Our organisational member Break The Silence, which supports survivors of rape and childhood sexual abuse, is commemorating 15 years of changing lives.
The charity, which is based in Kilmarnock in Scotland, has helped 2,828 people since it was launched in 2004.
It was founded by Kate Short, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, who was unable to find the support she needed to work through her trauma.
Lesley Craig, co-chief executive, said: “Kate felt what was available was not suitable to meet her needs.
“Kate had a vision for a service that would offer a range of support in one place to address many issues, not just one. It would be welcoming, non-threatening and safe. It would be Break the Silence. Kate did a huge amount of research and met with other agencies across Scotland.
“We were founded in 2004. That was the start of the journey and we originally supported survivors aged 16 and over.”
Break The Silence now provides counselling to people aged 13 and above who are survivors of rape and childhood sexual abuse, as well as partners and family members.
Lesley said: “We have kept survivors at the heart of everything we do. We have survivor representation within our workforce, on our client-led advisory group and at board level.”
Demand for Break The Silence’s services continues to grow. Indeed, over the last four years male referrals across East and North Ayrshire have increased by 42%, with spikes around high-profile news stories and story-lines in television programmes.
Sharon Belshaw, Break The Silence’s clinical lead and BACP member, said that, for example, the bravery of former footballer Andy Woodhouse in speaking about how he was abused as a child by a coach encouraged many more people to come forward.
“His interview drove a massive increase in people coming forward to say that it had happened to them,” Sharon said.
“It led to a 50% increase in males coming forward to Break The Silence, which was incredible.”
Sharon said, there were also significant increases in people looking for help following storylines in Coronation Street, EastEnders and Hollyoaks.
“What’s happening in the news and on TV programmes will move more people to seek support,” she added.
Break The Silence has a number of events to mark their 15th birthday. The charity held a recent get-together for founder Kate Short, staff, trustees and volunteers and has an event planned for its client-led advisory group.
The community showed their support at a recent fundraising event organised by Killie Cares, an organisation which raises money for local charities, with Break The Silence one of three charities supported at the event.
Break The Silence will submit an application to the Survivors of Childhood Abuse Support Fund. It is a £10m fund set up by Scottish Government “to help organisations improve access to services which can reduce the impact of inequalities and disadvantage experienced as a result of childhood abuse”.
Lesley said: “It’s a great opportunity for Break The Silence to secure funds to enable us to manage the increase in demand and reduce waiting lists for support.”
“To assist survivors, we have put self-help resources online, posted information about crisis helplines, and we now post helpline details on our social media over the weekend when we are closed.
“We have worked hard on partnership development, brokering relationships with other crisis agencies so if someone is in crisis there is somewhere they can get immediate help.
“There are texting services, online services, phone services, and a range of self-help resources and these details are also on our website.”
She added: “Break The Silence is an inspiring place to work and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to be part of such an amazing team.”
“The work the team do in empowering survivors to transition beyond their trauma to live healthier better lives is so rewarding and is what makes us all so passionate about the work we do.”