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Community / Campaign to highlight sexual harassment receiving ‘high volume’ of submissions

Photo: The Compass Centre

AN AWARENESS-raising project focused on experiences of sexual harassment in public and intimate image abuse in Shetland is already attracting a “high volume” of submissions.

The Compass Centre, also known as Shetland Rape Crisis, will use the anonymous submissions to inspire the creation of a print campaign that will appear on busses across the isles.

A digital campaign will also be released on social media and on the Compass Centre’s website.

The charity’s sexual violence prevention and activism worker Ellie Ratter said the campaign gives people the chance to tell their story in a safe and anonymous way.

“We’ve received a high volume of anonymous submissions over the weekend after we launched the campaign to our social media,” she said.

“These submissions will continue to shape the campaign and allow us to highlight the prevalence of sexual harassment and intimate image abuse in Shetland.

“If anyone would like to submit their story anonymously or get more information on the campaign, please visit our website.”

A key aim of the campaign is to ensure it is informed by the voices of folk who have been affected by these kinds of sexual harm, “so that we are addressing realistic concerns in our community”.

It is not looking to replicate the #wistoo campaign, which was launched in 2020 and detailed stories of sexual harassment violence in Shetland, but it is providing inspiration.

The Compass Centre said sexual harassment is any words or actions of a sexual nature that are not wanted or agreed to. It may include, but is not limited to: cat-calling/wolf-whistling/other street harassment, unwanted comments of a sexual nature, unwelcome sexual advances, and unwelcome comments based on gender and/or sexuality.

Sexual harassment can occur in person, digitally, or even over the phone.

The charity added that intimate image abuse consists of intimate images (photos, video, and/or audio recordings) being shared without consent, or threats to share these.

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This may include, but is not limited to: intimate images that are originally sent with consent but then further shared and/or kept without consent, intimate images taken without knowledge or consent, and threats to create and/or share intimate images if the person does not comply with the perpetrator’s wishes.

The sharing of intimate images often forms a part of wider abuse and is sometimes known colloquially as “revenge porn”.

Service manager Lisa Ward said: “It is very important to us that the voices of survivors of sexual harm are heard and centred in any campaign work that we do, especially when there is so often a culture of silence around these issues in small communities where the stigma and social cost of speaking out is so high.

“When we identified sexual harassment and intimate image abuse as the focus of our next campaign, we were clear that we wanted this to be informed by the real-life experiences of survivors in Shetland.

“Before making a submission, we do want to urge folk to consider carefully if they feel ready and able to tell their story and have it included in a high-profile campaign, and to remind survivors that support and information is available from The Compass Centre if this coverage brings up any painful memories for them.”

There is a closing date of 30 September for submissions, and these can be removed or altered until 7 October.

After the closing date, the submissions will be reviewed to ensure that anonymity is upheld and that they contain no identifiable information. This means that certain words or phrases may be taken out or changed to allow the story to remain anonymous.

People can submit their stories via this link.

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