We were pleased on World Mental Health Day to see the momentum gathering for a different conversation around mental health. There’s been a growing number of people talking about trauma informed support, as opposed to medical model based support. The latter labels people, puts a diagnosis on them and asks ‘what’s wrong with you?’
In cases of sexual trauma a survivor can be invited to feel that they are the problem, and are powerless, disordered and broken, further exacerbating feelings of shame and blame they might feel. They can think that their only answer is medication and to understand ‘what’s wrong with them’ by using a medical label.
A trauma informed approach sees people’s struggles as understandable responses to the trauma and/or adversity they’ve faced, as ways to cope with the overwhelming, distressing nature of trauma.
In cases of sexual trauma the question considered would be ‘what’s happened?’ A survivor would be invited to make their own connections between then and now, to value their resilience in coping with abuse and to see their feelings and behaviors as natural and understandable responses to an unnatural situation. This empowering and compassionate approach would build on the resourcefulness of survivors and give them the power to understand and change, dismantling feelings of powerlessness, shame and blame.
At RSVP we are part of the movement to create a more trauma informed world. We deliver training which encourages professionals to respond to survivors of sexual abuse with belief, compassion, kindness and warmth. We provide frameworks so that professionals see survivors struggles and despair, not through the lens of stigma, shame or labels, but through the lens of humanity, as natural reactions to extreme distress. Our training uses the voices and experiences of survivors at the centre of what we do, as they are the experts of their experiences. If more people avoided giving labels and instead took the time to listen, hear and understand the stories of survivors we’d give hope and provide the compassionate support for them to thrive.
If you’d like to know more about our trauma informed training, please contact us on: email@example.com or 0121 643 0301
On Thursday 28th September LimeCulture will be revealing the winners from their shortlisted nominations for the 2017 LimeLight Awards.
We are absolutely delighted and so proud that one of our ISVAs (advocates) has been nominated for the Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement by an ISVA Supporting Adults.’
Our team member Lisa Monks has done exceptionally well to be selected as one of only three nominees across the U.K.. The award she’s nominated for celebrates excellent practice and the achievements of an individual ISVA who supports adults. All nominees have demonstrated commitment, passion and exceptional encouragement and support for their adult clients.
Lisa has been nominated alongside Yvonne Raybone from Amethyst SARC and Barbara Pawson from Arch North East. We wish them all well but obviously hope that Lisa wins for us, although in our eyes Lisa is already outstanding with or without an award.
Last year you might remember that firstly, our entire ISVA Team won the “ISVA Exceptional Team” award, for leading the way in the provision of ISVA services and for making a significant contribution to supporting survivors. Secondly that a LimeLight Award was named in honour and memory of our beloved colleague and friend Vicky Bardsley who we still miss so much. Vicky supported children and young people at RSVP and sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2015. The award is one of the many ways that Vicky is leaving a positive legacy for the many sexually abused children and young people she supported.
For the ISVAs nominated for the “Vicky Bardsley Prize: Oustanding Achievement by an ISVA Supporting Children & Young People” and for the “ISVA Exceptional Team” Award we wish you well.
We’d like to congratulate RSVP’s Lisa Monks and every other nominee shortlisted as we know that it is a fantastic achievement to get this far.
A final message to our Lisa though, we genuinely appreciate you, this award is a testament to your skill, dedication and professionalism, and we hope you win!
Santa Cause is our annual Christmas fundraising event, an opportunity to really shout about the important work that we do, celebrate the year’s achievements and raise some extra funds to support survivors.
This year is the 4th edition and will be the biggest yet. We’ll be at Hawker Yard in Birmingham city centre on Friday 17th November from 6pm. The theme this year Christmas past, present and future, explored through delicious street food and exciting cocktails. There’ll be live performances too from Marty Elliott – performing Christmas ballads from the past, Dry Rain – performing upbeat Christmas covers and DJ Silence who will bring the party to a climax.
Fancy dress is optional – but you could win a prize!
Why not kick off the party season for charity and make it a great social occasion, network with lots of great people and make it a friend or colleagues office night out
Tickets are priced at £25.00 per person and include food and drink options.
Early Bird tickets are available until 17th October at £22.50
Group booking discount – Book 10 places and pay for 9!
The power of language or: Why I’m never angry.
By Wendy, who supports survivors
I never get angry. True story. I am frequently cross or irritated (occasionally even annoyed) but never angry. The reason for this is that I don’t feel comfortable with the way the word angry sounds, feels or makes me look- so I substitute it with something softer.
This is the power of language and sometimes it can be fun. (I’m almost never drunk either by the way, but have frequently been known to be merry). Language is powerful; if it weren’t advertising executives wouldn’t be driving around in flash cars.
The problem, though, is when the power of language is used to belittle something or diminish an act of importance. It is essential that we get it right when we talk about survivors of rape and sexual assault and their experiences.
In the past few weeks we have seen news coverage of the trial of a man who “groped” Taylor Swift. She was not groped, she was sexually assaulted. Time and again we read in news and magazine articles that a man has “had sex” with an unconscious woman. This is not sex it is rape. The use of a softer word allows the perpetrator a measure of permissiveness.
Words such as “fondle” and even “caress” have been used to describe sexual assaults and this muddies the waters. These are words more associated with acts of love or tenderness- the antithesis of sexual assault.
Using words that are “nicer” versions of the true word diminishes the experience of the survivor and the severity of the crime. The pervasive use of the incorrect and offensive term “child pornography” is a case in point. Pornography has connotations with legality, consent and adulthood. What is referred to as child pornography is actually images of child sexual abuse or exposure.
Words used around the abuse of children are often wilfully softer, almost playful or childlike in themselves. Consider the term (and I apologise in advance) “kiddie fiddling”. Child abuse is a brutal term and the urge not to use it is understandable. But child abuse is brutal and nothing is gained from pretending otherwise.
Who is anyone to fear the words when survivors have lived the experience?
Using language to water down sexual violence makes it appear that the survivor is “making a mountain out of a molehill”; exaggerating or whingeing. It moves the focus away from the act and onto other matters. It helps to sweep the action under the carpet.
This is especially true when the substituted word has another meaning; to fumble is to stagger around in the dark trying not to fall over. It is not to assault someone.
Sadly, survivors are used to having their experiences questioned and belittled. Using inaccurate language is a primary way of doing this. To insist that words are used correctly is not pedantry. To use words correctly is giving the survivor the power and the perpetrator the responsibility.
To be honest, not doing so makes me really…angry.
Exciting news! Our Chief Exec Lisa Thompson has completed the 200 mile GB Ultra run. She started running on Saturday at 6am and completed the run across the Penines (from Southport to Hornsea!) on Tuesday evening. Incredible stuff. She smashed the 100 hour target.
Watch this space for a debrief from Lisa. For now, we wish her a well deserved, carb-filled- rest!
Over £3000 has already been raised for RSVP, and there’s still time to donate and show your support both to Lisa and to the work of RSVP supporting survivors of sexual abuse. https://localgiving.org/fundraising/only-200-miles/
From April 2017 there have been changes in bail following a suspect being arrested – Yvonne Langham, Head of our ISVA Service has written this blog to explain what these changes could mean for you.
What is bail?
For many years most people who were arrested were given bail, written permission from the court for the suspect to be out of police custody. Bail often had very strict conditions attached. The bail was given while the investigation continued, and a decision made whether there was enough evidence for a formal charge to be made and a case prepared for trial. This resulted in huge amounts of people being on bail for months or even longer, when many of these cases did not lead to a formal charge being made or a court case.
What are the changes?
From April 2017 there will be a ‘presumption to release without bail’ anyone who is arrested. This however will not apply if it is ‘necessary and proportionate’ to place the suspect on bail. Necessary in relation to all the facts known about the suspect and the offence, and proportionate in relation to the seriousness of the offence under investigation.
What does this mean for you?
If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault recently, domestic violence or recent child abuse, it is likely that the suspect will be placed on bail with conditions, as before April 2017. The only difference is that the bail is now time limited. A Police Inspector can authorize a period of 28 days bail and its conditions. Once the 28 days are up and if the investigation is still ongoing, a Superintendent will review the facts of the case and may decide to extend the bail period for up to three months. At the end of that time, if the investigation is still not complete, the police may apply to Magistrates court to extend the bail and its conditions. The Magistrates court must review the facts and agree it is still ‘necessary and proportionate’ for the bail period to be extended.
What if bail with conditions are not given in your case?
If the suspect in your case is released without bail, there are still things the police can do to protect you. The suspect could face further charges, such as witness intimidation or harassment, if they threaten or harass you during the investigation period. This means that they could face being arrested again and further charges being brought against them in court. If the suspect bothers you, tell the police about it straight away! You can do this yourself, or by telling an ISVA at RSVP who can make that call for you.
Unsure if the suspect in your case is on bail or not?
Ask an ISVA at RSVP to find out. We would be happy to contact the police for you.
Contact the ISVA Team by calling 0121 643 0301 and selecting option 2, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expert sexual abuse lawyers from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors http://www.irwinmitchell.com/personal/personal-injury-compensation/abuse-and-criminal-injury-claims/physical-and-sexual-abuse-claims have teamed up with RSVP to provide free legal advice for survivors we have supported in the past and those currently using our services too. The clinic has now been running for a year and during this time legal support and advice has been provided to a number of survivors.
The aim of the clinics is to offer free legal advice to survivors across a broad range of legal topics, including family law matters, Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority claims and civil claims. Civil claims could be made against an individual who has committed abuse, an organisation responsible for that person (usually an employer) or an organisation that should have taken steps to prevent abuse, but failed – such as social services.
Raman Dhillon (pictured above) provides free advice alongside emotional and practical support from Yvonne Langham, Head of ISVA Services and our advocacy team.
The legal clinic takes place on the last Friday of every month and it proves to be extremely useful to those who require legal advice, but may not be able to afford it or know where to access this information.
If for any reason you are unable to attend the legal clinic on the last Friday of the month please let Yvonne know on 0121 643 0301 option 2 or email@example.com and Raman will look into accommodating your enquiry at a more convenient time for you.
The next legal clinic will be on Friday 30 June 2017 between 11:00am and 1:00pm at RSVP offices in central Birmingham. We look forward to seeing you there, no appointment is necessary, just drop in!
RSVP’s specialist LGBT ISVAs Bev & Mark were at Birmingham Pride 26-27 May and had a lovely time embracing diversity & equality while promoting our specialist service for survivors within the LGBT community. Bev & Mark had a stall set up in the marquee with our Umbrella partners sexual health testing team, Birmingham LGBT centre and Swanswell.
We enjoyed watching the parade, celebrating 50 yers since decriminalisation of homeosexuality and seeing all the community groups taking part with the colourful fun spirit of the event.; dancing along to the musical floats as they went passed.
We watched Zara Sykes perform her latest single The Right which is about violence and sexual abuse.
Bev was in the women’s arena promoting our services to LBT women, who are currently underrepresented. We hope we reached out to some of the women present, and that people know our services are there for them if ever they need them.
The increased security were a comforting reassurance following the terrorist attacks in Manchester & London. The silence in honour of those lives lost was a sombre moment yet the LGBT community continued to celebrate acceptance and diversity against the adversity.
We hope that everyone had a safe & happy pride, and have reached some of the LGBT community who may now feel more comfortable in accessing support following any sexual violence/abuse.
We’re having a recruitment frenzy! As well as some exciting new staff vacancies and a number of opportunities to support RSVP as a trustee we are seeking volunteers to support survivors on our telephone helpline.
The helpline is a vital service, providing compassionate and sensitive support to survivors. We ask that all volunteers commit to a regular shift each week for at least 6 months. The helpline is open 7 days a week and is based in central Birmingham. You could make a real difference to the lives of survivors.
Full training will be provided and you’ll be supported by a our experienced and professional team.
Please download and read the following documents
Please complete and return the application form to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm Monday 31st July. If you have any questions about the role, please contact Katie Simpson on 0121 643 0301.
We support and inspire people affected by sexual violence and abuse live a future with hope and confidence. If you would like to use your skills and experience at Board level to support our work with survivors, we would love to hear from you.
There are a number of trustee vacancies open, including the important roles of Treasurer, Secretary and Vice Chair.
We are looking for women including those from BME backgrounds as these groups are under represented on our Board. We want active and committed individuals to bolster the skills and experience of the Board, ensuring good governance, strategic planning and financial scrutiny.
Recruitment documents are below, including specific information for the Treasurer, Secretary and Vice Chair roles.
Completed applications forms should be returned by email email@example.com by 5pm on Monday 31st July 2017. If you would like to discuss the roles advertised, please contact RSVP’s Chief Exec Lisa Thompson 0121 643 0301 option 3 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Please download and read the following documents:
Nolan Principles (ethical standards for public life)
And please download, complete and return the following document: