West Yorkshire based sexual violence charity research shows its men’s teletherapy service works well
Survivors West Yorkshire, the Yorkshire region’s ONLY online specialist support service for male survivors of child sexual abuse, publishes independent evaluation of Ben’s Place.
The organisation, which promotes the public awareness message, “sexual abuse is something I experienced, it’s not who I am!”, said it was keen to share the positive findings of the evaluation so that those who may need to access such provision can be reassured of its credibility. Researchers have found that 1 in 6 men have experienced abusive sexual experiences before the age of 18. This is probably a low estimate, since it doesn’t include non-contact experiences, which can also have lasting negative effects. West Yorkshire has some of the highest rates of sexual crime in the UK. In 2017, the charity secured funding from the National Lottery Awards for All programme to run a one-year pilot project delivering ‘virtual’ (cloud-based) counselling for male survivors of sexual violence. The free counselling service – Ben’s Place – is available to all males (aged 16 years plus) throughout the whole of West Yorkshire.
Ben’s Place is named after a West Yorkshire male survivor who experienced childhood sexual abuse between the ages of 10 and 13. Ben took his own life shortly after his 23rd birthday. The mission of Ben’s Place is to deliver a professionally qualified and informed specialist support, counselling and advice service to adult male survivors (currently aged 16 plus) who are ready to look for help with their experiences of sexual crimes committed against them. Simply knowing they’re not alone is powerful and healing for many male survivors, especially given society’s denial of sexual violence-abuse, as evidenced by the latest reports from the Inquiry into Childhood Sexual Abuse (IICSA) led by Prof, Alex Jay.
Ben’s Place is a pioneering and secure specialist digital cloud based free counselling service. It currently provides professional counselling, emotional support and advice during its operating hours. Its counsellors are BACP registered and have undergone specialist training to work online. An independent evaluation study of the pilot, which aims to assess how effective Survivors West Yorkshire has been in achieving its stated outcomes, has now been published.
The key findings of this study are:
1. Virtual counselling is an effective way for most male survivors of sexual violence to enable them to develop better coping skills and to build their resilience and self-confidence.
2. 67% of the clients supported via this pilot project sought out/took up opportunities which they previously felt unable to do as a result of this intervention. This figure rose to 80% for those clients with more sustained engagement (average 13 sessions) with the counselling.
3. The intervention has had a significant positive effect on clients’ mental health. Survivors West Yorkshire has, for 20 years, proactively lobbied to improve services. It believes that when society listens to the stories of recovery and growth that survivors experience when they are able to access good practice specialist services, it will want to support the amazing courage males show by breaking their silence to recover from the sexual crimes – done to them – as children or adults.