Why is the Community Safety Partnership running this campaign?
Torbay’s Community Safety Partnership has two key priorities. The first is to tackle domestic abuse and sexual violence, and the second is to tackle alcohol related violent crime.
The purpose of the artwork in this campaign is to challenge views associated with sexual violence and a night out.
The campaign is being run to bring the subject of rape firmly into the forefront of the public’s mind and to say that we will not tolerate rape or sexual assault in Torbay. The campaign also aims to show that there is never any excuse for rape or sexual assault and that a victim is never to blame. Ultimately we would like to encourage anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault or rape to have the confidence to report and/or access the support services that they might need.
It is also hoped that perpetrators of sexual offences may look at the artwork and think about their own actions.
What is the Community Safety Partnership doing to tackle this issue, other than just putting up posters?
The posters are just a small part of a wider campaign. Plasma screen messages in GP surgeries and Paignton library are worded to highlight the issue of rape or sexual violence within marriage or a relationship. Statistically, someone is more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted by someone they know and trust. Social media is also being used to raise awareness that rape and sexual violence is not ok and to provide relevant links to support services.
As a pre-cursor to the campaign, training sessions have been delivered by the police and the Sexual Assault Referral Centre, to bar staff and door staff working in Torquay’s night time economy. The aim of this training was to educate staff to be able to identify predatory sexual behaviours and individuals (female and male) who may potentially find themselves vulnerable on a night out; and to know how to intervene safely to prevent a sexual assault or rape. This work has been supported by Torquay’s Best Bar None Scheme, a trade led national initiative which aims to improve standards and safety in licensed premises.
The Community Safety Partnership has also worked with Devon and Cornwall Police to provide Taxi Marshals and improve lighting within the Night Time Economy, as well as supporting the work of the Torbay Street Pastors. The partnership also helped to provide ID scanners in a number of premises, and introduced an ID seizure scheme which ensures that fraudulently used IDs are sent back to the issuing authority.
Is a night out in Torbay safe?
Torbay is no different to any other town or city in the country that has a lively and vibrant night life. Torbay has a Purple Flag which is awarded to areas that can demonstrate a well managed and diverse night time experience.
A night out in Torbay is relatively safe with a network of safety and support existing in the form of CCTV, bar staff, security staff, the police and the Street Pastors.
Unfortunately crimes do happen within the night time economy just as they do elsewhere, but there are many staff and volunteers working to reduce the risk of crime on a weekly basis.
Who’s involved in the campaign?
The campaign has been generated by Safer Communities Torbay (the name of Torbay’s Community Safety Partnership) under its “Are You OK” branding, and is supported by the partners who sit on the Torbay Domestic Abuse Steering Group, including Torbay Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, the Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services, Torbay and South Devon Foundation NHS Trust, South Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, Dorset Devon and Cornwall Community Rehabilitation Company, Intercom Trust and Victim Support. Particular support was provided by Devon Rape Crisis and Support Services and the Sexual Assault Referral Centre.
Is this campaign telling people that if they drink alcohol or dress in a certain way that they’re at a greater risk of rape?
No. The aim of this campaign is to highlight that there is absolutely no excuse for rape. None whatsoever. The amount someone may have had to drink is not an excuse. The clothes that someone chooses to wear, is not an excuse. Throughout the campaign plasma screens in GP surgeries and Paignton library will also give the message that being married or in a relationship does not give someone an automatic right to have sex with their partner. Marital rape became a crime in the UK in 1991.
Where did the campaign artwork come from?
The artwork came from a campaign run by Safer Bristol called “This is not an excuse to rape me” and which was adapted from a Rape Crisis Scotland campaign called “This is not an invitation to rape me”. We are grateful to both bodies for allowing us to use the artwork. Safer Bristol is re-launching their campaign this year with the aim of highlighting the issue of male rape and rape within minority communities.
Why is this type of artwork being used for this campaign?
We wanted to avoid stereotypical images depicting violence because such images can be distressing for victims of sexual violence. We also wanted to use images to provoke conversation and debate about this issue. The images don’t suggest a victim is to blame, particularly as the message on the artwork states that ‘this is not an excuse to rape me’. A victim of rape or sexual assault is never to blame. Without any text, these images convey no particular message.
Why doesn’t the campaign make any reference to male victims of rape or sexual assault?
We are very aware that there are many male victims of rape and sexual assault and messages forming part of the wider campaign provide signposting to appropriate support services.
The majority of incidents of sexual violence are carried out against women and girls by male perpetrators. The artwork for this specific campaign was chosen to target and challenge the views of male perpetrators and to encourage victims to seek help and support.
We recognise and understand that anyone can experience sexual violence regardless of their age, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, or disability.
The areyouok.co.uk directory of services can be used by anyone to find the type of service they need.
The campaign uses the word “rape”. Does the Community Safety Partnership think that’s an appropriate word for children to see?
Whilst the word rape may generate some challenging conversations with children and young people, we make no apologies for using the word and believe that more needs to be done to raise awareness of healthy relationships, and consent. Rape is a difficult issue to explain to children, particularly younger ones, but it can be done in an age appropriate way, and it’s very important that all children understand that their body belongs only to them, and that nobody has the right to do things that make them feel embarrassed, uncomfortable or frightened.
How can I help keep my child safe from sexual abuse in a way that’s appropriate for their age?
It is a sensitive subject to tackle requiring gradual conversations until you introduce the actual term rape, but the NSPCC have suggestions for some good resources to help you, including downloadable guides you can read with your children at various ages. There is also a guide to read with children who have special educational needs. It is important to have these conversations with girls and boys. The guides start for the under 5’s and cover defining private body parts, what may make them feel uncomfortable, how to say no and the importance of telling someone and not keeping secrets. The guides support PANTS – the ‘Underwear Rule’ and can be found at https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/underwear-rule/ which also has suggestions for parents and carers on how to talk about the NSPCC PANTS Underwear Rule.