A SEXUAL trauma charity is aiming to remove the barriers in accessing support after a successful week of action.

STARS Dorset (Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service) brought educational discussions into the community as part of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week on February 5. 

Stephanie Lee, STARS engagement officer, said the action began with ‘street chalking’ in Poole town centre, where members of Youth Parliament shared their experiences of sexual harassment.

Bournemouth Echo: Residents chalking experiences of sexual abuse in Poole

Students were also encouraged to ask sexual, shame-free questions in events held at Bournemouth University.

“We predominantly focused on what the students asked for, which was more education and understanding around sexual choking and asphyxiation and the issues around kink and BDSM,” said Steph.

She added that games were used to encourage honest and open discussions with students.

“We had quite a few international students that are really curious and open to understanding our culture and our education system and how we can help them understand more about how we do things here in our country.”

STARS also hosted the Let’s Talk Pants campaign in The Dolphin Poole to teach children how to stay safe.

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Steph said: “I’d love to do more events based in the community.

“It takes away the barrier of making that phone call or sending that email, doing that referral.

“We're just there and we are open and available to have a discussion.”

STARS aims to encourage ‘healthy curiosity’ through question-and-answer sessions on social media and honest conversations through its podcast.

Steph said: “People want to anonymously ask questions and get information, but factual and from specialists rather than from Google it or on explicit sites.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Adults were asked to share what advice they would give to their younger self, so STARS can bring further support to the community.

STARS said it will be returning to The Dolphin Poole for future events.

John Grinnell, centre manager at The Dolphin Poole, said: “Welcoming STARS for Sexual Violence Awareness Week was a fantastic opportunity to bring free, educational and interactive activities on an important subject to The Dolphin Poole.

“We are proud to be able to support local charities by offering GATHER to host community events and ensure these organisations have a presence in the heart of Poole during these key social awareness weeks.”