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  1. ITV Report

Hampshire charity promotes discussion about sexual abuse and sexual violence

  • Watch Emma Wilkinson's report, which features three abuse survivors whose identities have been protected.

It is a subject that is still often seen as taboo - one people do not always feel comfortable talking about.

But an organisation in Hampshire is determined to bring the conversation about sexual abuse and sexual violence out into the open.

As part of a nationwide awareness week, Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service (PARCS) has held a series of events to try to dispel many of the myths and misconceptions that exist around rape and sexual abuse, as well as spread the message that support for survivors is out there.

The organisation has been providing support services since 1981

The UK Office of National Statistics estimates there are 97,000 rapes in England and Wales every year, while last year, 1 in 14 adults told the annual Crime Survey of England and Wales that they had been sexually abused as a child.

Eve Davenport, who works in Prevention and Outreach at PARCS, says the charity is seeing an increasing demand for its range of free services:

Eve says sexual abuse is too often seen as the 'elephant in the room'. At an event in Guildhall Square, the team used a large elephant to try to promote more discussion about the issue and screened a film made with production students at the University of Portsmouth.

Many survivors of rape and sexual abuse never report what has happened to them and most do not go through the criminal justice process. Of the clients at PARCS who have, less than 10% saw a guilty verdict at the end of the process.

But campaigners say that does not mean sexual violence and abuse is rare - they say the problem is in fact much more widespread than many people think it is. PARCS psychotherapist, Chloe West, says it is time society faced up to that fact.

349
The number of adult survivors of rape and sexual abuse PARCS worked with from Apr 2015 - Mar 2016
4280
The number of hours of adult counselling provided from Apr 2015 - Mar 2016

People sometimes say to me 'it's only a few people isn't it?' or 'don't people sometimes bring cases because they want compensation?' or 'isn't there something called False Memory Syndrome where people make up what happened to them?'

Honestly, if you sat in a room with our clients here, you would know in your heart that they are telling the truth. So it makes me angry when people try to belittle the issue.

– Chloe West
  • You can find out more about PARCS by visiting their website.