SAYIT provides young people with age appropriate information and an opportunity to explore issues relating to sexual violence in a safe environment with experienced facilitators. Sexual Violence is an issue that concerns everybody. Rape and Sexual Assault are seriously under-reported crimes. The secrecy and stigma that surround sexual violence prevent the victim from telling about their experience or looking for support. Statistics show that 33% of women and 25% of men have been affected by some type of sexual abuse in childhood, (SAVI Report 2002). Crisis intervention and support are vital but we also need to look towards education and prevention. Recent surveys, (Amnesty International and the IrishExaminer, Red C Poll) clearly show that a high percentage of people still completely or partially blame women in many instances of rape and sexual assault. We are always aware that sexual violence may be an issue for someone in every group that we work with. Bearing this in mind, we reassure participants that personal information is never part of our sessions.
Our focus and content varies according to the needs and maturity of each group so while we will cover similar information the time and focus will vary. Our format typically begins with an introduction outlining what participants can expect from the Programme stressing information like FREE Service, anonymous helpline, no personal information. We follow this with a brief PowerPoint presentation outlining the Centre location and Services offered; counselling is explained and the procedure around reporting to Gardai.
We move on to a Presentation about the Law and Sexual offences and a discussion around consent and the age of consent.
A group exercise looks at Who the victims are; Where these crimes happen; Why they happen; Who the perpetrators are. This generates a lot of discussion and highlights stereotypical views and myths and attitudes around Sexual Violence.
Throughout the feedback from this exercise we are giving information including client experiences; some clients have given us poems or stories to use. We present our most recent Statistics and some National Stats. We end Session One by giving each person a sheet of paper and inviting them to ask any question they want, we ask that they respect each other’s space and reassure that we will not read out sensitive questions but will cover all questions in Session Two.
The emphasis in Session Two is on the Effects of these crimes on people and on Supports. Questions from the Comment Box from Session One are answered throughout the session. After our introduction and brief recap on Session One we divide into small groups and using fictional case studies we draw on different scenarios to look at the impact of sexual violence and the short and long term effects on victims and also on family, friends and community.
Following this we look at How to Support Someone. With younger people we emphasise the need for adult support. We look at what supports and resources us personally when we need it and how we listen to someone else and what we might suggest to them.
We take time to look through the S.A.Y.I.T. Booklet and highlight the different information covered e.g. Services, The Law, Myths and Facts, Guilt, Shame, Depression, Self-Harm, How to get help, How to Cope, Impacts on Friendships and Relationships, Helplines and Websites, Tips on Staying Safe and F.A.Q’s
After a brief recap participants fill out the post-questionnaire.
We are aware of school students being more relaxed and open both with opinions and questions in recent years.
In the adult education and youthreach groups we have a mixture of older and younger participants which allows a great variety of views and discussion with much more life experience influencing this.
With the groups in Tralee IT there is a focus on possible scenarios that might be experienced in placements and how these may be dealt with personally and professionally.
Counselling provides you with a safe, confidential space to talk to a counsellor. (It is important that the counsellor is professionally qualified and accredited). It gives you an opportunity to look at difficulties that you are experiencing because of things that have happened in your life. With support you can explore thoughts and feelings and make changes that you wish to make.
Clients tell us that it is a huge relief to talk to someone, often for the first time. They are given time and space to talk about what has happened to them and the impact it has had on their lives. There is no pressure on the person to say or do anything. It is their choice how much they wish to talk and any changes they wish to make.
Each person’s experience and response to that experience is unique to them. No two people will react in exactly the same way. Some people come only once; others come for weeks or months. There is no limit; it is the client’s decision.
Yes people can and do recover from traumatic events and experiences. Over the past 17 years we have worked with many clients who have developed healthier and happier lives.