Family Matters first opened its doors in Milton Street, Gravesend in the beginning of 1990 by two survivors of sexual abuse who created a self help group meeting the needs of others that had suffered sexual violence and abuse.
The charity is now one of the largest providers of specialist therapy and support for children and adult victims of childhood sexual abuse and rape.
The head office is still based in Gravesend but offers therapy in various locations across Kent and the South East.
In 2014/15 Family Matters saw no fewer than 903 children and adults. A total of 735 of those for one to one therapy and the remainder were children and adults seen by their Independant Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA’s) for rape support. The Family Matters helpline assisted a further 2000 callers.
Over 200 of those seeking counselling in this time were children and young people and over 400 were residents of Kent. Of the 324 rape victims that were seen in this year, a shocking 33% were children.
In addition to the one to one therapy sessions, Family Matters also provides two Independant Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA’s) across the boroughs of Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Seveonaoks, Gravesham, Dartford and Medway and are funded for the next four years through the Home Office and local Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs).
An Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) is trained to look after a survivors needs, and to ensure that they receive care and understanding. They offer help in understanding how the criminal justice process works, and will explain things in simple terms, such as what will happen if a survivor chooses to report to the police, and the importance and process of forensic DNA retrieval. The Family Matters ISVA’s see nearly 200 men, women and children who have been raped each year.
The charity is in partnership with Kent Police and the Sexual Assault Referral Centre based in Beech House Maidstone to provide therapeutic support, ISVA AND CISVA support for victims of rape and sexual violence. They work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service, Kent Police, Witness Care and Victim Supoort to provide a seamless service for victims across Kent.
Their most frequent referrers are GP’s, Mental Health teams, CAMHS and community health teams. Self referrals are also common, many victims choosing not to report to police and health authorities. Police, SARS, schools and other therapists are next.
Funding comes from a mixture of Home Office, Lottery, CSP’s PCCs and other charitable grants.
Service users and those affected by sexual violence are represented at every level of the organisation including trustees and have influence on their policies, procedures and service design.
Prevalence of Sexual Abuse
- It is estimated that there are over 4.5 million adults in Great Britain, who were sexually abused as children
- “The connection between childhood sexual abuse and self harm is well documented”. (Herman 1992)
- “Studies indicate that 50% or more of women in touch with mental health services have experienced violence and abuse” (Womens Mental Health: Into the Mainstream 2002)
- As over 85% of childhood sexual abuse occurs in and around the home and is perpetrated in the main by family members or those closely associated wi the family, the sexual abuse of children is a domestic violence!
- A large percentage of young people rough sleeping in London are escaping sexual abuse (homeless Charity Worker)
- Victims of childhood sexual abuse are 27.7 times more likely to be arrested for prostitution (Wisdom 1995)
- Of the 324 rape referrals received last year 33% were from children
- The youngest rape referral client was four years old, the oldest eighty five.
Please click here to contact Family Matters or call (01474) 536661