More than half of female survivors of sexual violence in Greater Manchester have not been able to access the support they need, new research reported by Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) revealed.
The stark findings are revealed in a new report, ‘Voices of Survivors: Hearing Women for Change’; a collaborative research project by Manchester Metropolitan University, MASH (Manchester Action on Street Health), Manchester Rape Crisis and Trafford Rape Crisis.
The team, which included Senior Lecturers Dr Kate Cook and Becky Clarke from Manchester Metropolitan, spoke to nearly 400 female survivors of sexual violence in Greater Manchester via focus groups, roadshows and online questionnaires about their experiences.
They found that where people live, women’s perceptions of their experience and inconsistent support were the main barriers women faced in accessing vital support to help them in their recovery.
One woman quoted in the report said: “I have never told anyone about it for fear of being judged… I have not told anyone before now.”
Another woman revealed she had not accessed support because “there was nothing in my area.”
The Voices of Survivors (VOS) partnership commissioned the research, funded by the Lloyds Bank Foundation, to influence long-term change in Greater Manchester.
It found that location affects the likelihood of accessing support. In total, 56% of the women who took part in the research in Manchester and Salford had accessed support. However this fell to just below one third for women living in Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside.
The research also revealed that specialist charities are the most helpful source of support, closely followed by friends, for many female survivors in Greater Manchester.
Dr Kate Cook, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Sylvia Pankhurst Gender Research Centre at MMU, said: “What we have found is a shocking lack of adequate provision. We need urgent action to begin to remedy this.”
The VOS partnership is calling for long-term commitment to change through the establishment of a Greater Manchester-wide network of survivors, third sector organisations and statutory partners.