Sexual assault reports in Greater Manchester have increased by more than a FIFTH in the last year, according to shocking new figures from the Office for National Statistics.
There were 3,532 reported sexual offences in Greater Manchester in the year to June 2014, a 21.1% rise from the 2,940 sexual offences in the year to June 2013.
The figures also show that Manchester residents are more than 1.67 times more likely to suffer a sexual offence than those in London districts.
Duncan Craig, CEO of Manchester-based sexual assault organisation, Survivor, believes the number of victims that choose to remain silent is far higher than those that do decide to come forward.
He said: “It’s frightening to think the number of people that don’t disclose. There’s a whole host of people that have never found the ability to be able to speak out and ask for help.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in people coming to us asking for support. The world is viewing sexual assault in a completely different way now.
“It seems that people are able to talk about it more. There’s more permission that’s been given by society to talk about this.”
Dr. Catherine White, Clinical Director at St. Mary’s Assault Referral Centre, is concerned by the strain that victims will be under if they don’t tell anyone.
She said: “For some people, they box it off and move on. But we get a lot of people where they’ve not been able to box it off and so it does have an effect down the line, which is so sad.
“Some people become self-destructive, there might be alcohol issues or rebelling and the people around them don’t know, so can’t help.
“Sometimes people don’t say because they’re trying to protect the feelings of others, but perhaps we’re dispelling some of the myths and people are feeling a bit more able to come forward sooner.”
It’s also been found that there are more sexual assaults per Greater Manchester resident than there are for residents in Merseyside and Yorkshire and Humber.
Mr. Craig added: “I’m not surprised at all. Maybe that’s something to do with the fact that Greater Manchester has probably had more than its fair share of big, high profile cases.
“Maybe because there’s been more of a news appetite for it, there have been more cases reported.”
It’s also been revealed there are more sexual assaults per Manchester resident than there are for the whole of England and Wales.
Officers from the ONS say the rapid increase in sexual offences could be due to victims feeling more comfortable about reporting a crime.
Anyone can call Survivors on 0161 236 2182, while St. Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre is contactable via 0161 276 6515.
Image courtesy of Luis Sarabia, with thanks.