‘Invaluable’ service for sexual assault victims

1/5/13   Det Insp Karen Warner from the Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit (centre)  with Sarah Murphy Manager at  the new  seuxal assault referral centre in York.
1/5/13 Det Insp Karen Warner from the Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit (centre) with Sarah Murphy Manager at the new seuxal assault referral centre in York.
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Since opening just over six months ago, North Yorkshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) has seen 22 victims of sexual crime contact the centre directly.

The York facility, known as Bridge House provides victims of sexual crime with help and support rather than victims reporting to the Police.

The service has been described as ‘invaluable’ by victims. SARC manager Sarah Murphy, said: “It’s important that victims know we are not police officers and that they can contact us directly. All you have to do is phone or email Bridge House and we will take everything at your pace.

“Victims will not be pressurised or forced to do anything they don’t feel ready to do. We provide a neutral, yet homely environment where victims can seek the specialist advice, support and help they require without entering a police environment. Our medical facilities also mean that any early evidence can be secured without victims having to go direct to the police.”

Ms Murphy added: “There is no historical cut off point for reporting sexual abuse – whether it happened yesterday or 50 years ago – you can still come to us for help.”

One rape victim said: “I have found the service to be invaluable. I have managed to pluck up the courage to start taking the baby steps I have always wanted to take, but previously felt too pressurised to take via a police investigation.

“There was a point after the incident when I just needed to take a step back and assess my life. I knew my life would never be the same, but it was up to me to claw back as much as I could.”

To date, four out of the 22 victims who have contacted the SARC have gone on to make a formal complaint to the police.

Det Insp Karen Warner who oversees the management of the SARC said: “This is a really good reflection for the service that victims feel they have the support and confidence to take the step to make a formal complaint to the Police.”

The SARC centre, known as Bridge House is in York and victims are encouraged to call 01904 669339 or visit www.turntobridgehouse.org.