Warwick charity is struggling with rise in sex abuse victims due to cutbacks

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A charity that helps victims of sexual abuse says it has seen a 25 per cent increase in the number of people it has helped in the past year.

But Safeline, a Warwick-based organisation that helps people across the district, said the dramatic increase has also coincided with recent cutbacks to its funding.

This has prompted the charity to launch its SOS appeal (Supporters of Safeline) to raise £200,000 in its 20th year and has appealed to businesses and individuals to help.

Safeline said the increase has been fuelled in part by the Savile scandal and high-profile cases involving celebrities.

The charity’s chief executive Lindsey Lavender said the charity is having to deal with more people than ever partly because of council cutbacks.

And she added: “When this happens there is always a ripple effect across charities like ours and we are struggling to both raise funds and cope with increasing demand.

“We know that people dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse and rape desperately need our help but our funding has been reduced.”

Lydia Ward was abused separately by “trusted members” of her wider family when aged six to seven and aged 11.

Now aged 36 and living in Warwick, it was only in 2008 after years of torment that she plucked up the courage to contact Safeline.

She said: “I went for about 10 years trying to block the abuse and coping with depression. “I got very low and certainly questioned life. It was absolute despair – I could not cope with everyday life.”

Now a Safeline trustee, she said it was because of the charity’s help that she was able to tell her family. “They were devastated. If the perpetrators were still alive they would have wanted them prosecuted.

“For years as a child I was told by the abusers that ‘It’s our secret’ and I thought that I would not be believed if I reported it.

“Many survivors like me wouldn’t think of going to the authorities to begin with. The thought of going to the police or social services seems just too big to deal with but I needed someone to talk to and Safeline was there to help me.”

Lydia, who has gained a psychology degree and diplomas in counselling and has had meaningful relationships since abuse, has set up a coaching and counselling service called Velvet Evolution.

She added: “I was a victim of sexual abuse once – but now I’m a survivor.”

Home Office statistics show that 85,000 women were raped in England and Wales last year, and 400,000 women were the victims of sexual abuse, but it is thought thousands of attacks are not reported to police.

To contact Safeline or raise funds for it phone 402498 or go to www.safeline.org.uk