King's to adopt new Charter for survivors of sexual assault

The Havens will engage sexual assault survivors in service development

King's sign

King’s College Hospital will incorporate the views of assault victims when carrying out research and developing the services provided at the Havens, the sexual assault referral centres run by the Trust.

The announcement came as the peer-led organisation Survivors' Voices and researchers from King’s College London’s School of Life Course Sciences launched a charter to guide organisations and individuals to safely and meaningfully engage abuse survivors in health and social care research.

The Charter is aimed at any individual or organisation interacting with survivors of abuse, including those who may not have disclosed their experiences or do not feel safe enough yet to do so.

Launching the Charter at the Haven’s Sexual Violence Research Day, Concetta Perôt, Co-founder & Director of Survivors’ Voices and Associate Researcher at King’s College London said, “Genuine patient and public involvement in research that engages people who have experienced abuse is in its infancy. It is rarely survivor-led or co-produced. What little research there is that directly consults survivors can be ineffective at engaging and eliciting data due to the way it is conducted and it can even cause harm, despite good intentions. We aim to address this through our partnership with King’s and support from the Wellcome Trust.”

The Charter has been designed and implemented entirely by survivors of abuse. It guides researchers and organisations through the principles and practicalities of good survivor engagement. The authors aim to enable active, safe and meaningful involvement of abuse survivors in: research, service development, projects, policy and practice standards, events, training and conferences.

Dr Sophie Khdhr, Clinical Lead at the Havens, added, “Survivors of abuse face unique health and social care challenges. These are impossible to address without proper consultation and genuine engagement. Too often their voices are ignored so changes in policy and support services do not effectively meet their needs. This Charter marks a shift toward co-produced research and collaborative service development. We will be adopting it at The Havens, and I encourage all my colleagues to use it.”

People are being invited to download the charter for free and consider how they can use it to increase meaningful engagement and involvement of abuse survivors in their work.

One in 10 women and one in 70 men report that someone has made them have sex against their will - in most cases a known individual - and less than half told anyone about it. Nearly one in five women and nearly one in 20 men reporting experience of attempted non-consensual sex.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) estimates that one in 20 children experience sexual abuse and one in 14 experience physical abuse. Childhood abuse is a recognised risk factor in the causes of many common mental health conditions.

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