Camilla and May back NHS campaign to help victims and survivors of abuse

It is hoped campaign will encourage those affected by sexual and domestic abuse to visit a referral centre

Theresa May and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are among figures backing a campaign to encourage survivors of sexual and domestic abuse to come forward for help through the NHS.

The campaign, backed by a £20m boost to specialist services, comes on the first day of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

NHS England (NHSE) said the campaign was intended to highlight the support offered at dozens of sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) in England. The service is also creating two new clinical lead roles for domestic violence and sexual assault.

NHSE said the 24-hour centres offered confidential specialist, practical, medical and emotional support to anyone who has been raped, sexually assaulted or abused, no matter when it happened.

May, whose government introduced the domestic abuse bill that finally passed into legislation last year, said survivors needed to know “the NHS is there for them”.

“Sadly incidents of domestic abuse and sexual assault increased during lockdown and the extra funding for services for victims of abuse and sexual violence is much needed,” the former prime minister said.

“Dedicated domestic violence support for the NHS and integrated care systems is particularly welcome as local medical care plays an important role in identifying abuse and supporting victims.”

Camilla has highlighted the issue of domestic abuse for a number of years and NHSE said she would visit a centre this week to meet survivors of sexual assault to hear more about their experiences and the care they receive through SARCs.

A short video raising awareness of the help offered by specialist centres has been released as part of the campaign, which is supported by organisations and charities including the Survivors Trust, SafeLives and the Male Survivors Partnership, a

NHSE said that despite official figures showing that domestic abuse and sexual assault had increased in the pandemic, the number of people receiving help from SARCs halved after the first lockdown compared with 2019.

Laura Currer, the chair of the national NHS England sexual abuse and assault services lived experience group, said: “I know from experience how hard it can be to seek help in these situations, but after I was assaulted I will never forget the kind, caring and compassionate staff at SARCs who were there to hold my hand during one of the worst moments of my life.

“They explained the whole process to me, and gave me the space and autonomy over my body that my attackers had taken away, and I will be forever grateful.

“I urge anyone who needs support, no matter when it took place, to come forward – you are not alone, and the wonderful teams at SARCs are there to help 24/7.”


Jamie Grierson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Camilla condemns ‘global pandemic’ of violence against women
The Queen Consort said two of the most powerful ways in which to make a difference were ‘to remember and to listen’

Caroline Davies

29, Nov, 2022 @5:02 PM

Article image
Domestic abuse should no longer be 'taboo' subject, says Camilla
Campaign needs voices of men as well as women, duchess tells Women of the World festival

Lucy Campbell

06, Mar, 2020 @1:35 PM

Article image
'Reach in' to help victims of domestic violence, urges Duchess of Cornwall
Camilla says Covid pandemic may make it impossible for some victims to reach out

Alexandra Topping

03, Sep, 2020 @6:00 PM

Article image
Britain to open refuges to support child victims of sexual abuse
Child houses inspired by Icelandic scheme will tackle ‘public health emergency’ of abuse and offer young people expert care

Sandra Laville

22, Jun, 2016 @1:37 PM

Article image
MPs call for inquiry into how family courts treat rape and abuse survivors
Letter to justice secretary calls for men who father through rape to be denied access rights

Owen Bowcott Legal affairs correspondent and Peter Walker

15, May, 2019 @12:37 PM

Article image
Police treatment of domestic abuse victims to be investigated
Theresa May says too many victims being let down by ‘shameful attitudes’ of some officers and orders major inquiry

Alan Travis Home affairs editor

17, May, 2016 @1:21 PM

Article image
Thousands of domestic abuse survivors denied help after legal aid cuts, study finds
Exclusive: Research calculates proportion of domestic abuse cases funded by legal aid has fallen from 75% to 47% in 10 years

Aubrey Allegretti Political correspondent

29, Apr, 2022 @1:00 PM

Article image
Labour pledges to place specialists in 999 call centres to help rape victims
Yvette Cooper says party would also ensure police forces have dedicated units amid shockingly low conviction rates

Rajeev Syal Home affairs editor

26, Sep, 2022 @7:53 AM

Article image
Boots to provide help for domestic abuse victims
Pharmacies to provide safe spaces during coronavirus lockdown after rise in calls

Jamie Grierson Home affairs correspondent

30, Apr, 2020 @11:01 PM

Article image
A strategy for women’s health in England: six areas of focus
From gynaecological conditions to healthy ageing, these are expected to be the priorities of the final plan

Andrew Gregory Health editor

23, Dec, 2021 @12:01 AM