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Helping Survivors of Sexual Violence


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The SVPSP will:

  • Improve the way health services support people affected by sexual violence
  • Transform the future of UK health care

What is the problem?

Approximately 1 in 10 people in the UK have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16, for example rape, sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact. This means that over four million people in the UK have been affected by these experiences. It has also been estimated that one in 20 children in the UK have suffered from some form of childhood sexual abuse. Living with the consequences of sexual violence can have a significant physical and emotional impact on survivors, including post-traumatic stress and other mental health difficulties, inability to work or study, sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. Despite this wide range of impact, there are several fundamental uncertainties around the best way to support people who have experienced sexual violence and we simply don’t know if available services fully meet their recovery needs.

What are we doing about it?

We are working with an organisation called the James Lind Alliance to establish a ‘Priority Setting Partnership’ (PSP). We are bringing together survivors and clinicians together to identify and agree on the unanswered questions that they consider the most urgent and important for future research to address.

The James Lind Alliance has already conducted similar projects to identify the most important priorities of people affected by a range of conditions, such as chronic pain or different kinds of cancer. In many cases, the work of PSPs has led to new cutting-edge research that has improved the lives of countless people in the UK. This will be the first PSP that will be focusing on the needs of survivors of sexual violence and abuse.

Our PSP includes both ‘experts by experience’, meaning sexual violence survivors, and ‘experts by profession’, such as doctors and psychological therapists who work with survivors of sexual violence.

Using social media and online surveys, we will reach out to survivors and relevant professionals throughout the UK to identify important unanswered questions about the best way to support people who have experienced sexual violence, and whether survivors feel that any of their needs are currently not met by health services. This information will then be used to prioritise a Top 10 list of most important unanswered questions that should be examined by research in the future. These priorities will be published in medical journals and will directly influence the decisions of major funders of clinical research studies in the UK, such as the National Institute of Health Research.

For more information about JLA and PSPs please visit: http://www.jla.nihr.ac.uk/

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What have we done so far?

  • Thanks to your help, we successfully raised the funds needed for the SVPSP

  • We have set up a diverse Steering Group made up of survivor and clinical representatives from across the UK.

  • Our first SG meeting will take place in March.

What can you do to help?

If you want to be involved in this project, you can follow us on our social media and raise awareness of the SVPSP. Once the survey is live we will need help publicising it, as well as the results once published.

Stay up to date:

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with the SVPSP!

Together we will improve the way UK health services support people affected by sexual violence.

Together we will understand what survivors need to support their recovery.

And together we will identify important unanswered questions about the best way we can care for survivors.