Posted on 7th February 2019

Sexual abuse is not ok. That’s the message for Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, a campaign supported by leading charities working in the field.

From 4-10 February organisations across the UK, including Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner, are supporting the week’s message that all forms of sexual abuse and sexual violence are unacceptable and victims and survivors should not have to tolerate it. It’s an all-inclusive campaign supporting anyone who has experienced sexual abuse or sexual violence, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, identity, age, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or religion.

From April 2017 to March 2018 there were 5,414 sexual crimes, including rape, recorded across Cheshire.

David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, said: “We know that rape and sexual abuse are particularly distressing crimes for the victim. The effects can be long-lasting and require specialised support to help victims to be able to cope and to work through to recovery.

“I am committed to supporting organisations throughout Cheshire that help victims of sexual abuse and since becoming commissioner in 2016, I have allocated funding to many organisations that support victims of sexual crimes including RASASC – Cheshire’s Rape and Sexual Assault Support Centre. They provide free community based support that is tailored towards the needs of people affected by sexual violence.

“We need to work together with local residents, statutory bodies and third sector organisations to send out the message that sexual abuse and sexual violence is not ok.”

Detective inspector Sean Lonergan, from Cheshire Constabulary’s dedicated rape unit, added: “Rape and sexual assault are two of the most serious of all criminal offences. They can inflict lasting trauma on victims and have a devastating effect on their families.

“There is a general perception that most rapes and sexual assaults are committed by men against women and they are not known to each other. In fact, the majority of rape victims know their offender, and rape is an offence committed against men and women.

“Cheshire Constabulary understands what really matters is how victims are treated, focusing on their immediate needs, medical or otherwise, dealing with victims properly and sensitively and ensuring they know they have been believed.

Additionally, we will follow every possible line of enquiry in an attempt to bring any perpetrator to justice.”

Cheshire police offers the following advice for keeping safe:

• Arrange your transport to and from home before you go out for the night
• Make sure someone knows where you are going and what time you will be home
• Don't let friends go off alone with someone, or do something they wouldn't normally do
• Don't get yourself into a situation where you are isolated away from other people. Stay in a group
• Although drink spiking is extremely rare, don't leave your drink unattended at any time and never accept a drink from someone you do not completely trust
• If someone attempts to engage you in sexual activity that is unwanted, say no and make it clear that you do not give your consent. Get away from the situation as soon as possible and tell someone about it
• If you or someone you know has been raped, it’s best to report it to police straight away. Make sure to keep any clothing and to not interfere with where the offence took place. Make sure you/they do not wash yourself/themselves or any clothing to maintain any vital forensic evidence