Sexual violence victims speak up

Last updated 05:00 06/05/2014

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More sexual violence survivors are breaking their silence in the south, support workers say.

Invercargill Rape and Abuse Support Centre manager Susana Lepoamo said demand at the centre had continued to increase because more victims were coming forward.

The Southland Sexual Violence Awareness Week starts today.

The increase in demand was not because there were more sexual assaults but because more people were breaking their silence , Lepoamo said.

She attributed that to people having more confidence in the services the centre provided, the organisation's co-operation with police and other agencies, and more support within the community.

The message "it's okay to talk about it" was getting out. There were also more national campaigns about sexual violence, she said.

The number of clients at the centre had increased - there were 154 between July 2012 and June 2013, and already 143 people had been through the centre between June and the end of March.

The organisation was raising awareness around healthy sexuality and young people and would host several events throughout the city this week.

Education co-ordinator Natalie Bennie said every young person needed to have helpful information, good skills and open communication to empower them to build healthy relationships and a healthy future.

Invercargill Rape and Abuse Support Centre events this week are:

May 4-11: A display and information stall has been set up at the Invercargill City Library.

Friday at 9pm: Auction at the Kiln.

Saturday 10am-2pm: Street appeal.

Saturday 1pm: Internet health and safety consultant John Parsons talks about the links between digital technology usage and the development of young people's healthy relationships, identity and boundaries at the Invercargill City Library conference room.

Saturday 9pm: Concert at Players Entertainment Centre including musicians Daniel Monteath and Michelle Lange. Tickets will be on sale at the door and cost $10 per person or $5 a student.

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- The Southland Times

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