Nottinghamshire support service awarded £135,000 to help sex attack victims

Leonie Smith, left, Rape Project Manager and Karen Dawson
Leonie Smith, left, Rape Project Manager and Karen Dawson

A SUPPORT service for victims of rape and sexual abuse in Nottinghamshire has been awarded thousands of pounds of Government funding which will enable it to help more people in need.

The Ministry of Justice has given ISAS - Incest and Sexual Abuse Survivors - funding worth £45,000 a year for three years for its rape project and £58,000 a year for three years for its core service, which helps adults who were sexually abused during childhood.

The charity’s support and counselling service can be the difference between a victim getting back on track and leading a normal life again or staying trapped in a cycle of pain and despair.

And the team at ISAS hope that this cash will mean they can reach out to help even more people.

“The effect of rape and sexual assault is absolutely devastating,” said Leonie Smith, rape project manager.

“Sometimes we are working with an individual to save their life.

“We hope to increase their mental health and social functioning - their confidence, their self-worth.

“The difference from when they first come to when they leave is brilliant to see.”

After contacting ISAS’ rape and serious sexual assault service, a client will be contacted by a female counsellor within two working days and then an assessment appointment will be made at a safe location close to their home address.

Ongoing telephone support is provided from first contact and eight weeks’ counselling, starting immediately, will be arranged.

“We are trying to meet people more immediately so they can get their needs attended to straight away,” said Leonie.

The core service, which like the rape project is aimed at male and female victims aged 16 plus, offers longer term counselling with one of ISAS’ 63 volunteer counsellors.

Karen Dawson, volunteer service co-ordinator, said: “Our main focus is to support an individual in the way that they feel they need to be supported.

“They are never under any pressure - sometimes it can take months to speak about the abuse.

“We give them an hour each week and they can use that to talk about what they want.”

Karen also facilitates a therapeutic group in Mansfield for male survivors of childhood abuse, which complements the counselling as they also offer support to each other.

ISAS also wants to try and change public opinion of rape and sexual abuse, with ignorance about the subject often leading victims to fear being judged for being victims.

Said Leonie: “Victims feel extremely traumatised. They feel guilty, they feel ashamed, they always feel that it’s their fault and that’s not helped by the lack of public awareness.”

Contact the ISAS office on 01636 610314, its helpline on 01636 610313 or email enquiries@isas-notts.org.uk.