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VIDEO - United approach is key to tackling male abuse

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: February 10, 2014

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A NEW bid to encourage men and boys to come forward when they have experienced sexual and physical abuse is being rolled out across areas of Burton, South Derbyshire and Northh West Leicestershire.

Police forces, councils and specialist services have seen a big rise in the number of men coming forward to report cases of abuse since the revelations emerged about Jimmy Savile.

Calls to the likes of Staffordshire Police and the NSPCC have jumped at least 20 per cent as people report current and historic allegations.

Now, several organisations have joined forces in a bid to urge victims to come forward and get help.

First Step is a charity which works with male survivors and their supporters.

Cas Beckett from the charity said: “We help survivors to make the ‘first step’ towards feeling less isolated through making their own choices.

“Everyone has the right to be respected, to be believed, and to live in a safe environment, and we can help individuals to achieve that.”

Jon, from Staffordshire, was physically and sexually abused from the age of three to 16 by his older brother. He decided to get help and worked with the likes of First Step to help reveal what happened to him.

Jon said: “He controlled my whole childhood, and has stolen that part of my life away from me. I felt in constant fear. For years and years I had hidden everything I went through, I didn’t tell anybody at all.

“When he got convicted of it, it gave me a lot of closure.

“Find somebody to talk to because you are not alone.”

In Staffordshire, a joint project runs called Breaking the Cycle. It aims to tackle domestic abuse in an effort to raise awareness on what domestic abuse is, how a respectful relationship is vital and how it is important to work with perpetrators at the earliest stage.

Staffordshire Police are among the organisations who form part of the project.

Detective Chief Inspector Helen Jones, of Staffordshire Police, said: “Staffordshire Police treats all reports of sexual abuse against male children or adults extremely seriously no matter how long ago the offence happened and we will carry out a thorough and sensitive investigation into such reports.”

Derbyshire Police and several partner agencies have teamed up to create a DVD highlighting how domestic violence can escalate quickly.

It is set to be distributed to councils and health services and will be shown in public areas such as GPs’ surgeries and police enquiry offices.

Detective Inspector Hayley Barnett, from the force’s public protection department, said: “It is really important that victims of domestic abuse realise that there is help for them and that the police and other partner agencies are supportive.

“This DVD also appeals to the friends and family of victims of this type of crime to speak out and report the abuse.”

Domestic violence accounts for 18 per cent of all violent crime in England and Wales and the level of violence used against partners and family members increases over time.

During recent years, the force has worked to improve its standard of investigation and victim care.

DI Barnett added: “Officers who are called to domestic violence incidents are trained to reduce the risk to victims.

“They will give advice and help victims seek refuge from their abuser if necessary.

“It is the officers’ responsibility to act immediately.”

Sally Goodwin, chairman of the Domestic Abuse and Serious Sexual Violence Governance Board, said: “There are specialist support services available for victims of domestic abuse across all three areas , with professionals committed to helping victims to do what’s right for them in order to stop the cycle of abuse and protect them from harm.”

Safe and Sound provides support to children and young people who are being, or a risk of being sexually exploited in South Derbyshire.

The charity is urging more people to ‘come forward and get help for themselves’.

A spokesman for the charity said: “Our organisation was established in 2002, so we’ve built up substantial experience of supporting victims of sexual exploitation and helping them to escape from this violence and abuse.

“We also work to prevent young men and from becoming victims of this crime in the first place.

“Our work to raise awareness and speak on behalf of victims nationally benefits children and young people in South Derbyshire, the Midlands and right across the UK.

“Safe and Sound Derby provides support to people who are being sexually exploited.”

Linda Slawson manages the sexual assault referral centre Juniper Lodge, which helps people in North West Leicestershire.

She said: “We offer a comprehensive service to male and female victims, and give them the opportunity to make informed choices about what is right for them. That includes whether they report the crime to the police. We can also arrange forensic examinations, screening for infections, and counselling.”

Anyone who is a victim of domestic violence can call 101.

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