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Community / ‘Small bump’ in referrals at sexual violence charity after ‘Wis Too’ document

SHETLAND Rape Crisis says it has experienced an increase people getting in touch with the charity following the publication of a report featuring accounts of sexual harassment and violence in the isles.

Service manager Lisa Ward said a number of people have been getting in touch purely to share their own stories – something which she said has been cathartic for them.

The report was the work of Anderson High School pupil Rhea. Photo: Shetland News

Over 60 anonymous first-hand accounts of sexual harassment and violence featured in the report by 16-year-old Rhea from Scalloway.

They ranged from inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, parties and pubs to rape.

Ward confirmed that there has been a “small bump” in referrals since Towards a Safer Shetland – which ran with the theme #wistoo  – was published in early August.

“We’re now operating a small waiting list, but we have a new member of staff starting mid-September so we will be able to address some of this need fairly quickly,” she said.

“But primarily we have mostly received contacts sharing their stories but not following up for further support – it seems that for a lot of people just hearing the stories and having a chance to share their own has been enough and provided a catharsis. 

“We’re very grateful to Rhea for providing this opportunity to folk, and humbled to hear those stories and be able to provide that outlet for people.”

Shetland Women’s Aid, meanwhile, says it experienced more demand during lockdown.

Manager Laura Stronach said after initially being relatively quiet things turned “extremely busy” for the domestic abuse organisation.

The charity is currently recruiting an extra service support worker thanks to funding from Shetland Charitable Trust.

It has also welcomed news that a new piece of legislation aimed at making family court proceedings more child friendly has been passed into law.

The Children (Scotland) Bill removes a presumption that only children aged 12 and over are mature enough to be heard in court.

There will also be increased confidentiality for children in the court process and more protection for vulnerable witnesses.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021