Victim Support is an Island-based charity who are launching their ‘Dress In Yellow Day’ to raise awareness during Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, which runs from 4th to 10th February.
The charity is led by Paula Gelling, who is the only qualified Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) in the Isle of Man. Their work focuses on a complete catalogue of victim support, including emotional support for victims of various offences ranging from thefts, burglaries and criminal damage, but the emphasis this week is on victims who have suffered at the hands of sexual crimes.
Over the course of the week, Gef will be covering a range of sexual abuse and violence-related topics to coincide with Victim Support’s objective and will raise awareness on topics such as revenge porn, sexual offence myths and consent, and male sexual assault.
Social media sites and communication apps, such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, have contributed to a rise in sexual abuse cases amongst teens and young adults, and it’s an issue that affects both men and women.
IoM Sexual Offences Legal Review Underway
April 2015 saw the introduction of new UK laws that officially recognised revenge porn (sharing intimate and explicit images of a person in order to cause intentional distress or embarrassment) as a punishable offence. According to the BBC, there were 1,160 reported incidents of revenge pornography in the first year of the law’s introduction, with 30% of offences involving children under the age of eleven, with an average victim age of 25.
Here on the Island, the Sexual Offences Bill public consultation on a new Sexual Offences Bill closed yesterday. Manx Sexual offence laws have not been updated for more than a decade, leading to gaps in protection for and services to victims. The consultation sought views and opinions on a number of areas including; consent, abuse of trust, image-based sexual abuse and the prohibition of up-skirting.
‘Locker room banter’
There been a worldwide shift in the treatment of women globally on both ends of the spectrum. The #metoo movement has given a voice to women in the wake of allegations against the sexual misconduct of film producer, Harvey Weinstein, and has sparked a conversation about the manifold issues of gender equality.
The tail end of 2018 saw the FBI arrest a man for groping a woman on a flight from Houston to Albuquerque, who defended his actions by telling the agents that Trump “says it’s OK.” The idiot in charge of the United States previously dismissed footage of him telling Access Hollywood host Billy Bush that “you can do anything” to women, including grabbing them “by the pussy” as just ‘locker room banter’ and it’s this mindset that charities such as Victim Support have to constantly battle.
Victim Support hopes that local companies and individuals will support their ‘Dress In Yellow Day’ this Friday, 8th February and to mark the day the charity has worked with the Department of Infrastructure to light the Tower of Refuge in yellow. The initiative is part of their #itsnotok campaign and aims to raise money for the refurbishment of their premises, which require extensive exterior work and improvements to victim interview rooms.
The charity currently receives an annual monetary contribution from the Isle of Man Department of Home Affairs but much more is needed in terms of financial aid to cope with the increasing demands of their service, relying heavily on donations from corporates and the general public.
“We hope that the dress down day we are organising for this Friday raises awareness of the charity and the important service we provide on the Island,” says Paula.