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Community / Sexual violence charity increasingly busy in ‘challenging’ year

NEARLY 70 survivors of sexual violence were supported by local charity Shetland Rape Crisis in the last financial year, according to new figures.

This represents an increase of 17 on the previous year.

The 2020/21 figure equates to 62 women and six men.

Shetland Rape Crisis service manager Lisa Ward.

Shetland Rape Crisis service manager Lisa Ward said there were a few reasons which could be behind the rise.

This includes more people feeling confident in coming to Shetland Rape Crisis as it becomes better known in the community, as well as the charity’s awareness raising through projects like the #wistoo campaign.

“In addition we did actually get some funding for another support worker throughout the year, so it meant we were able to take more people on rather than having them wait to access the service,” Ward said.

The charity’s annual report shows that rape is the most common form of sexual violence raised by people accessing the service.

There were nearly 40 instances of this raised with staff during the year.

Other common types included sexual assault, intimidation, psychological abuse and childhood sexual abuse.

The most common age when people were first affected is 13 to 19.

The annual report also reiterated that in most instances the perpetrator of sexual violence is someone known to them.

People reported a wide variety of effects from sexual violence, from lack of confidence and relationship problems to suicide thoughts, panic attacks, isolation and depression.

Despite the limitations of the pandemic, Shetland Rape Crisis delivered 14 workshops with young people in 2020/21.

It also facilitated 11 young ‘BEE’ [Bold, Equal and Empowered] volunteers aged between 13 and 25, while four adult volunteers also contributed.

Shetland Rape Crisis board chair Siún Carden said the last year had been a challenging one due to the impact of the Covid pandemic.

“Shetland Rape Crisis has risen to the occasion, finding new ways of working to support survivors through this time and continuing to provide an excellent service despite unpredictable restrictions, periods of working from home and the extra pressures we have all experienced,” she said.

“We are very grateful to Rape Crisis Scotland for their continued expert support, helping us to meet each challenge the year has presented.

“The board would also like to say a massive thank you to the staff of Shetland Rape Crisis who have battled through the ever-changing circumstances with the needs of survivors always at the forefront of their work.”