The 25th of November marked White Ribbon Day and the start of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, both of which I am proud to support.

I am committed to creating an environment where women and girls are both safe and feel safe from violence, intimidation and harassment through influencing and supporting change within our communities, and in policing.

Through the 16 days of activism, I hope we can raise awareness of the support out there for victims and educate the public on how they can help when they witness such harassment. As part of this awareness raising, I’d like to invite Becky from Victim Support Dorset, a service my office commission, to share with you a bit about the brilliant work they are doing to support victims of sexual violence and help women and girls to feel safer across the county.

“My name’s Becky and I work for Victim Support in Dorset. We give emotional and practical help to people who have been affected by crime in Dorset. We support all victims of any crime, from crimes like homicide or VAWG to criminal damage, burglary and ASB.

Our caseworkers offer one-to-one tailored support. This support often includes a number of different things. With VAWG cases we might help with safety planning or target hardening, we can commission things like a ring doorbell. We also might support a victim in obtaining a non-molestation order or we might simply help a victim to build up their resilience to help them cope.

We often find when people call us, they will downplay what has happened to them. Saying things like: ‘I shouldn’t have done this’ or ‘worn that’. I think part of our job is reassuring them that what has happened to them is not ok and that no one has the right to do it, no matter where they were, what they were wearing or if they drank alcohol or not.

Although we often get referrals from the Police, we are a completely independent service and victims are not required to be supporting a conviction to access our service, they can self-refer for support. We will support anyone, regardless of if they are willing or feel safe enough to engage with the criminal justice system. 

We don’t push victims into going for a conviction, it’s about doing what they are comfortable with. We often go through the pros and cons with them and explain what the process of getting a conviction might look like, so that they can make an informed decision. I think often people are concerned about what the criminal justice process will be like and it’s only fair that they can make an informed decision. We are on the side of the victim, and we just want to get them whatever help is right for them.

One thing we’d like to champion at Victim Support is also offering support to children and young people. Under the new Domestic Abuse Act, they are now seen as victims in their own right, rather than observers, and it is important that they get the right support too.”

I hope you have found it informative hearing more about the support Victim Support offers here in Dorset. You can find out more about their service on their website here. I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind you that this is just one service from an array of options available across the county. Support is also available from STARS DorsetBCHA and Paragon (part of The You Trust).

David SidwickDorset Police and Crime Commissioner