A SUPPORT group for parents whose children have been victims of sexual abuse is being launched in Dorset.

The pioneering group ACTS FAST will be offering help and guidance to parents and carers of victims who are often left struggling to cope with the fall-out from the abuse.

Mandy Gulliver, service director of ACTS FAST, which stands for Abused Children Trauma Support Family Advice and Strategy Team, said following high profile cases, such as the Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris investigations, more children are speaking out about abuse than ever before.

But parents of victims say there is a “chronic” lack of support for families after a disclosure is made and a lack of understanding of how best to support families torn apart by abuse.

“This needs to be highlighted and we have decided to face it head on, as opposed to burying our heads in the sand and hoping it will go away, which sadly it won’t,” she said.

Mandy said Children and Adolescent and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Dorset, which is funded by Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, is failing to provide adequate support to young victims of abuse, with many having to wait months before receiving any professional help.

And the lack of support places additional strain on parents and carers who say they are left with no one to turn to.

“This [initial disclosure of abuse] has been described as akin to a bomb going off which can destroy families, communities and without doubt puts massive pressure on families,” Mandy said.

“Early intervention is key.”

The group is being championed by Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Under-hill, who has been made patron of ACTS FAST, and is calling for more funds to be assigned to mental health services in Dorset.

ACTS FAST has launched a helpline for parents to call for advice and will be holding group support sessions for parents and carers.

It has also established a support directory for victims and their families to provide guidance immediately after the abuse has come to light.

Mandy said: “We ultimately want people to know where they can come for non-judgmental support and understanding at a time when nothing in their life makes sense.”

For details visit actsfast.org.uk


More spent on offenders than victims

MORE money is spent putting sex offenders through therapy than providing counselling to victims of abuse, figures show.

According to a report published by the National Audit Office, its costs around £5,500 to put a sex offender through a treatment programme and around £40,000 to keep an offender in prison each year.

An NHS report on mental health care puts the cost of providing children and teenage victims with individual counselling for a year at just over £4, 700.

Sarah, who shared her story in yesterday’s Daily Echo, says her world was torn apart after it emerged her daughter had been sexually abused by her husband.

She said: “The difference of course as well is that he chose to commit the crimes, the girls did not choose to be victims, yet the amount spent on him is vastly higher.

“The children have their whole lives ahead of them for which they need to be equipped to deal with the damage done to them and find a way to minimise its impact on them going forward, particularly with their mental state.

“Without this, they will continue to be a “drain” on the NHS system, not to mention those that turn to drugs, alcohol or crime and the costs involved there.”

Drop in sessions for parents

ACTS FAST is holding a series of drop-in sessions for parents of sexual abuse victims in Bournemouth.
Parents and carers are invited to attend sessions at Castlepoint Library on Friday mornings between 9.30am and 12.30pm.

The group is also launching a 16-week support programme for parents and carers at Swans Therapy in Queens Park. The group will meet once a week. 

To find out more call 01202 309 930 or email support@actsfast.co.uk