A new campaign called 'Challenging Rape' is being launched by Torbay’s Community Safety Partnership on Monday 21 November 2016.

The campaign will be raising the profile of the subject of rape and sexual violence and challenge people’s stereotypical views on the issue.

It will not only highlight rape and sexual violence within an intimate relationship but that which may be perpetrated by a stranger. This is because an individual is more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted by someone they know more than by a stranger.

It is hoped that this campaign will encourage victims to seek the help and support they might need.

To raise awareness of this campaign on social media the hashtag #ChallengeRape has been set up and will be used to spread the campaign message.

Councillor Robert Excell, Executive Lead for Community Services said: “We want those who commit sexual violence, or who believe there are sometimes a justification for rape and sexual assault to see the campaign messages and understand that it’s not ok, ever. It is extraordinary that in a modern society there are still some perceptions that in certain circumstances sexual violence is excusable. Effecting behaviour change is not easy and will not be achieved through campaign words alone. This is why we hope that by putting the #ChallengeRape message firmly out in the public domain this will start open conversations and let those who have been directly affected know that what has happened to them is wrong. It is a crime and there are organisations who can provide non judgemental sensitive help and support”.

The artwork used in the campaign was chosen to target and challenge the views of male perpetrators. One of the posters is set in the night time economy and was chosen to highlight the fact that no matter how much someone has drunk, or what they are wearing, it is never an excuse for rape.

Another poster features a woman sat in her home and aims to raise awareness of rape and sexual violence within relationships. These posters will be accompanied by specifically designed artwork for use on plasma screens in Doctors’ surgeries across Torbay. They reinforce the message that your partner doesn’t own your body and that sex should always be your choice.

The artwork chosen on this occasion is female focused, but whilst appreciating that there are many male victims of rape and sexual assault, by far the highest number are women and girls. Wider campaign messages on social media signpost men and boys who may need support around sexual violence to specific services where help is available.

Fee Scott, Chief Executive Officer of Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services said “We are really pleased to be working with the Community Safety Partnership in Torbay on this vital campaign. Rape and sexual violence are devastating crimes that affect many people across the Bay every year. The views that some people hold about the amount that a woman has drunk or what she is wearing can lead to her somehow being blamed for the sexual violence she has experienced. We are clear that the responsibility for rape and sexual assault always lies with the perpetrators and we are glad that this campaign is so focused on making this point. Fear of being blamed in some way for what has happened is a big barrier preventing people to coming forward to seek support.

"Our organisation doesn’t blame or judge anyone and we encourage anyone who has been affected to contact us. We work with women aged 13 and over and young men aged 13-25 and our role is to provide information, help people to explore options and provide specialist trauma and emotional support. We welcome the focus the Community Safety Partnership is placing on the area of sexual violence and hope that the clarity of the campaign material will assist in changing attitudes and behaviour across the bay”

Superintendent Jacqui Hawley, South Devon Commander for Devon and Cornwall Police and Chair of Torbay’s Community Safety Partnership, said “Some good work has been done over recent years to challenge the behaviours of people on a night out to make sure others are kept safe. For example, Taxi Marshals are employed to safeguard individuals whilst they wait for a taxi, and to discourage taxi sharing between strangers. Additional lighting has also been implemented within Torquay’s night time economy and in September this year, training was delivered to bar staff and door staff to help them to be more confident in assessing who may potentially be vulnerable on a night out and empowering them to take appropriate action, in conjunction with other staff, Torbay Street Pastors and, where necessary, the police.

“To follow up on existing work, the #ChallengeRape campaign has now been launched to show people that we are not prepared to tolerate rape and sexual assault in Torbay, not only in our night time economy but also in the wider context of sexual violence in intimate relationships”.

Any individual who has been directly affected by rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse regardless of their age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, race or disability can access a directory of services on the Are You OK?  Opens in a new window website including the Sexual Assault Referral Centre and Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services, among others.

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