Sexual assault and abuse survivor journey research

Snell, Laura ORCID logo ORCID: , Goodwin, Victoria ORCID logo ORCID: and Grimwood, Tom ORCID logo ORCID: (2022) Sexual assault and abuse survivor journey research. HASKE. (Unpublished) Item availability may be restricted.

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HASKE (Health and Society Knowledge Exchange), based at the University of Cumbria, was commissioned to investigate the experiences of survivors of sexual assault and abuse in accessing services across Cumbria. This research was commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and led by Safety Net on behalf of The Bridgeway agencies, with funding from NHS England. The Bridgeway is a dedicated service that aims to help men, women and children who have experienced sexual assault and/or sexual abuse, either recently or in the past. It is a multi-partnered agency that involves G4S, Victim Support, Safety Net and The Birchall Trust.

This project involved four stages of data collection:
• A short online survey to gather contextual information from The Bridgeway partners about the enablers and disablers relating to the service user journey.
• Structured interviews with 10 service users to explore their journeys and experiences of accessing services. These were collected and represented using a ‘journey map’ methodology developed for the purpose of this study.
• An online survey of service users to capture higher level data about their experiences of accessing support across Cumbria.
• Structured interviews with four service users with disabilities to explore their journeys and experiences of accessing services.

The interviews and survey collected data from service users across a broad age range (from 18 to over 66 years), and from all six districts of Cumbria. In total, 78 females, 16 males and one non-binary individual participated in the research. The service users accessed support in relation to both historic and more recent experiences of sexual assault or abuse.

Overall, this research shows that survivors of sexual assault or abuse have accessed a range of services throughout their journeys and that those services have been made available to them in an appropriate and timely way. Although some individuals experienced delays in accessing support at different stages of their journeys, the findings indicate that the majority of service users involved in this study received the support they needed.

The journey mapping methodology enabled the uniqueness of each service user’s journey to be shown, and to highlight that there is no one ‘typical’ pathway to accessing support and services. Rather, what the data reinforces is the need to appreciate the nuance in every individual’s experience whilst also working to understand the common overarching needs. The data shows differences in terms of which services have been accessed and how individuals were referred to, or became aware of, the various services they engaged with.

In addition, the process of transitioning between services appeared to vary with some service users being referred directly from one service to another, whereas others referred themselves for support. It should also be noted that some of the research participants could not recall exactly how they were signposted to services or the specific order of engaging with services throughout their journey. However, for those who reported to Cumbria Police, the findings suggest that it is common practice to be referred to Victim Support and/or specialist therapeutic services (specifically, Safety Net or The Birchall Trust).

The data illustrates that some individuals were unclear about the processes involved with reporting sexual assault or abuse, and accessing services for support, including potential timelines, what might be asked of them, police investigations and court-related activities.

Item Type: Report
Publisher: HASKE
Departments: Health and Society Knowledge Exchange (HASKE)
Depositing User: Laura Snell
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2022 10:23
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 13:17
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