Call for support for sexual violence survivors

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and each one of us is encouraged to look out for different ways of support for sexual violence survivors. The support provided can be multifaceted and take different forms but it can be instrumental on the road to recovery and healing.

The Central Australia Health Service’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and other community organisations would like to encourage everyone to cast a caring eye over survivors. While SAAM can bring up painful memories it is also a crucial time to extend your voice in line with this year’s theme Embrace your Voice to support survivors and for survivors to be heard.

“If a person shares their story with you make them feel comfortable, make it clear that you believe them and re-assure them what happened is not their fault,” said Amelia Turner, Angkwerre-Iweme Coordinator at the Akeyulerre Healing Centre.

“Providing information about choices regarding reporting, medical assessment, healing and support is important. For survivors to take control about their informed decisions is important as control was taken away from them during the assault. Survivors may need support with this rather than being told what to do next,” said Di Sandford, Reconnect Coordinator at the Gap Youth and Community Centre Aboriginal Corporation.

“It is important to remember that the responses to a Sexual assault can be multi-fold and survivors should not be judged based on their responses as they can range from crying, being angry to being stoic or self -harming. Avoiding judgement and labelling and being there regardless of the reaction is pivotal,” said Stella Hayes, Counsellor at SARC.

The Central Australia Aboriginal Congress wants people to know that support on a community scale can be provided by responding to victim-blaming comments on social media, radio or the newspapers.

“Advocating against sexual assault in this way promotes a culture that condemns sexual violence in any form and will contribute to a shift in attitudes, values and norms. Victim blaming is counterproductive as it takes the focus off both the perpetrators and the social determinants of the problem,” said Donna Ah Chee, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress.

As part of SAAM there will be a few more events happening in April and May:

  • Two-day seminar training for SARC and stakeholders
  • Community education in the Alice Springs Correctional Centre
  • Workshop regarding children and young people’s Online Safety
  • eSafety Women empowering women to take control online

For further details about these events please contact Jessica Gunner at the Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 8955 4500.

If you are a survivor and this is creating stressful reactions for you, support is available through the nationwide 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732 or your local Alice Springs SARC service on 08 8955 4500.

Media contact: Gail Liston – 08 89512 5111 or 0476 839 383.

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