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The launch of the strategic direction for sexual assault and abuse services is a major and significant development in understanding sexual abuse and the ramifications that envelope it says Linda Dominguez.
We have needed to engage professionals and policy makers to develop their understanding of the impact of abuse, and to provide enhanced support for survivors, including recognising the life course impact that sexual abuse in childhood can have on an individual’s health and wellbeing for a very long time. This, new initiative, I hope, does all of that.
The voice of victims, survivors and thrivers, depending on where they are in their journey have been listened to with empathy and understanding during the consultative period and finally there is an outcome that we can all subscribe to.
The pervasive nature of child sex abuse is such that it does not just affect the child but has a ripple effect which impacts on families, friends and communities, and which has wider implications for society, the NHS and the criminal justice system. Sexual assault and abuse are two of the most serious and damaging crimes in our society; sexual abuse is not just about the sexual act, without proper support, for some it can become a life burden. This new exciting and much need initiative, will finally for many survivors, start to make them feel alive. As one client put it ‘asking someone to ‘put it behind them and forget about it’ is like asking them to obliterate the core of their being and sense of self’.
So today sees the launch of an incredibly important document, NHS England’s Strategic Direction for Sexual Assault and Abuse Services, ensuring that there is clear understanding between those that commission services and those that provide services.
I think this is one of the most important documents to have been developed in the field of sexual violence for a long time, in that it finally provides all stakeholders with absolute clarity in what everyone’s responsibility is. The six core priorities are very clear in what they aim to achieve ensuring that this awful crime is kept on the radar, there was and is a danger of empathy fatigue, but this will ensure that it is on the national agenda. What a great way to celebrate 70 years of the NHS – leading the way in the ‘minefield of sexual abuse’ and ensuring services are appropriate and proportionate for so many in need.