A centre for victims of rape and sexual assault across Coventry and Warwickshire has received backing from Wasps to raise awareness and empower more victims, particularly men, to have the confidence to seek support.
The Blue Sky Centre at George Eliot Hospital is the region’s dedicated Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), which has been supporting around 35 victims a month since formation in 2013.
The centre is a base where forensic medical examinations of victims of rape or sexual assault take place, both from victims who have reported incidents to police as well as those who have referred themselves.
Centre manager Antony Mumford revealed that only ten per cent of their clients are male, and in light of recent media reports highlighting alleged historical sexual abuse in junior-level boys sport, he is keen to raise awareness amongst men that support is readily available to them.
This has resulted in Wasps creating a video featuring a mixture of first-team rugby players and first-team netball players to empower all victims of sexual assault or rape to seek support – the video will be screened for the first time at the club’s Gallagher Premiership clash with Worcester Warriors at Ricoh Arena on Saturday 6 April.
“The majority of people automatically associate sexual assault or rape with female victims, but that isn’t always the case, as has been seen with various media reports over the past year,” said Mumford.
“Nobody truly knows how they would react to being sexually assaulted – it isn’t always the case of fighting somebody off, the reaction may well be to simply freeze.
“Having some of Wasps’ rugby players on board to echo our message is extremely powerful, because having big, physically strong men talking about the topic reinforces the message that anybody can be a victim of sexual assault or rape.”
The Blue Sky Centre is a 24-hour, 365-days-a-year operation managed by G4S Health Services, and is commissioned by NHS England in partnership with Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council, Warwickshire Police and West Midlands Police.
Aimee Richardson from Wasps Community, added: “Both Wasps’ rugby and netball players are role models and they recognised the important difference that they could make to this campaign, so when we told them about the idea, it was a no-brainer for them.
“People don’t necessarily associate powerful athletes, rugby players in particular, with being victims of sexual assault, and the aim of this video is to remind anybody suffering in silence that they are not alone and that there is somewhere where they can go to speak out.
“This is just the start of our relationship with the Blue Sky Centre, and we look forward to supporting them in the future.”
For more information about the Blue Sky Centre visit www.blueskycentre.org.uk or call 01926 507805.