sexual violence image
sexual violence image

We welcome the decision by the cabinet member for Community Safety to give extra funding to this vital local service.

Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity including, but not restricted to: rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape within marriage or relationships, trafficking, sexual exploitation and ritual abuse.

Although there is no legal requirement to provide ISVAs (Independent Sexual Violence Advisors), supporting victims of sexual violence is considered good practice and a priority for the Safer Portsmouth Partnership. Community safety was once home to the early intervention project, a valuable service in our city that worked with and supported survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence. It was well staffed and well funded, but that service has experienced harsh cuts in the nine years since the Tory/ Lib Dem coalition government and the number of IDVAs and ISVAs has been dramatically reduced.

There are still other providers in the city, for example Aurora New Dawn – a charity started by a group of women who had expertise in the area of domestic abuse and sexual violence – but like every other service they’re facing catastrophic cuts. Such providers are struggling to get the funding they need to reach out to victims in our city at a time when a report by Portsmouth City Council found that: “there has been an increase in police recordings of sexual offences and rape” but a “decrease in the proportion resulting in a formal outcome” with police analysis finding the main driver here was victim disengagement, particularly for victims who were reluctant to report in the first place.

Local campaigner Kirsty Mellor gave a deputation to the Community Safety Cabinet meeting and said: “Sexual violence can be committed by someone known to us and even trusted as a friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner as well as by strangers and acquaintances. Portsmouth City Council has cut funding for IDVAs, ISVAs and refuge provision in the city when these services can save victims’ lives. This puts them, and survivors, at greater risk leaving them vulnerable to further abuse, PTSD and long term physical and mental illness.

“About 15 years ago I needed support from an IDVA and an ISVA, which lasted for nearly 7 years until I was empowered enough to leave my abusive partner. Domestic abuse and sexual violence is an incredibly complex issue, one that’s often extremely hard to admit you’re a victim of. It isn’t as simple as: ‘why doesn’t she just leave’, or ‘did you see the way she was dressed, she was asking for it’.

“From the moment I disclosed the abuse, I was treated with dignity and respect, believed and no longer suffering in silence. I was empowered to make choices that supported and protected me and my children and might not have been standing here today without it.”

Kirsty’s powerful testimony successfully gained the approval of the cabinet member for Community Safety and £10,000 will now go towards supporting this much needed service.


Link to Instagram Link to Twitter Link to YouTube Link to Facebook Link to LinkedIn Link to Snapchat Close Fax Website Location Phone Email Calendar Building Search