TWO new part-time posts aimed at supporting survivors of childhood sexual abuse are set to be created at Shetland Rape Crisis after the charity was awarded new funding from the Scottish Government.
The money from the Survivors of Childhood Abuse Support fund is designated for 2020/21, but there is potentially four years of funding subject to yearly budgets and approval by Scottish ministers.
The funding will initially go towards a 10-hour trauma psychotherapist post and a 15-hour therapeutic support worker.
Shetland Rape Crisis service manager Lisa Ward said: “We are incredibly grateful that the Scottish Government has recognised the need for this addition to our service.
“Our experience is that this issue is disproportionate in our community, with around 40 per cent of our service users stating that they were first affected by sexual violence below the age of 16.
“This funding will enable us to deliver crucial specialist trauma psychotherapy and emotional support to existing service users affected by CSA, those waiting to access support, and those looking to seek support in the future.”
Awards from the £10 million fund has been distributed to 29 organisations across Scotland working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA).
The fund replaces the Survivor Support Innovation and Development Fund, which ended on 31 March, and it aims to address waiting lists for support, improve quality standards, and encourage partnership working amongst third sector providers and statutory services.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Childhood abuse devastates lives and this fund will help charities and support organisations to continue to offer high quality care to those who need it most.
“As we continue to take measures to deal with the spread of COVID-19, it is vital that survivors do not feel they have to struggle on their own.”
Shetland Rape Crisis plans to advertise for these posts immediately and hopes to appoint the trauma psychotherapist in June or July this year, and the therapeutic support worker after summer. Both workers would have to be able to work remotely as required.
Ward added: “Due to our rural, island location, sexual violence in Shetland tends even more towards the domestic, the private, and unseen violence in families and close relationships, including CSA.
“Our experience as a service is that CSA remains a very pressing issue in Shetland, and an issue that many are still unable to talk about due to shame and stigma.”
She also highlighted that the service remains open throughout the coronavirus pandemic to provide support to all survivors of sexual violence (aged 13-plus) in Shetland.
Ward added: “The vast majority of people who experience sexual violence are affected by someone known to them, often within their own family or by their own partner/spouse. This means that some people in Shetland, including children and young people, are currently stuck at home with their perpetrators for a prolonged and indefinite time and therefore may be experiencing increased ongoing abuse.
“In addition, even for survivors whose immediate home situation is safe, the lack of access to normal coping mechanisms and stabilising factors such as spending time with friends and family, working alongside others, working out at the gym, and other group hobbies and clubs, means that people are struggling with their mental health and experiencing more symptoms of trauma such as flashbacks, anxiety, and dissociation.
“We are still here for you and can support you remotely over VC, phone, message, and email.”
Shetland Rape Crisis can be contacted between 9am and 1.30pm Monday to Thursday via 01595 747 174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rape Crisis Scotland helpline is available via 08088 01 03 02 from 6pm to midnight.
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