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Latest News

Solace is recruiting a Clinical Trustee

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The Board of trustees is looking to recruit a talented new member to complement the skills and expertise of the existing Board. Strong candidates will be able to demonstrate knowledge of and expertise in the therapeutic field (counselling or psychotherapy). Candidates should have a deep understanding of the psychological impact of abuse and the challenges abuse represents to the designing and delivering effective therapeutic services.
Successful candidates will be required to attend 4 board meetings and two away days each year as well as participate on a board sub-committee. Trustees can claim reasonable out-of-pocket and travel expenses but are not otherwise remunerated.

Clinical- Trustee Application Pack FV

151001 Trustee Application Form

To apply please complete the attached application form quoting the reference number SWA25091 and return it to recruitment@solacewomensaid.org.   The closing date for applications is 12noon, Monday 21st March 2016.

Interviews will take place during the weeks commencing 4th and 11th of April.
Solace Women’s Aid values diversity, promotes equality and challenges discrimination. We encourage and welcome applications from women of all backgrounds. Applicants from BME groups are particularly encouraged to apply. The post is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, will be subject to an enhanced DBS check and open to women only (exempt under the Equality Act 2010).

Donate a gift today to support a woman and child fleeing violence this winter

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Around the festive period – when we see even more women fleeing abusive partners as the violence and threat escalates –  Solace needs your help to provide for the most basic of needs.

Many women and children will be arriving at our refuges this winter with nothing but the clothes they’re wearing; Alone, their confidence destroyed and traumatised from experiencing horrific abuse. Solace offers them a safe space, support and something of their own.

A gift of £14 could pay for an essentials welcome pack with food and toiletries for a mother and child arriving at one of our refuges this winter

For the same amount as a small present, making a donation of £14 could make those first steps to safety and recovery that little bit easier this winter.

Click HERE TO DONATE NOW or text SOLA07 with the amount (£4, £14, £40) to 70070 e.g. SOLA07£10


Milena’s Journey

Last year Milena found solace at one of our refuges. Read about her journey towards recovery:

Surviving abuse…

Milena’s husband was initially charming and confident, but he quickly became increasingly controlling and abusive. He decided what she could wear, what she could eat and who she could see. He would demand sex and rape her when she refused. Milena was abused physically, emotionally, financially and sexually for five years. The violence continued to escalate and on one occasion he violently pulled her around by her hair and tried to choke her.

The first steps to safety…

After several attempts to leave, which can often be the most dangerous time for women and children, she was finally able to escape.

But getting away, and finding solace at one of our refuges was just the first step towards safety and recovery. Over the next few months she got specialist help and access a range of our holistic services.

Rebuilding and recovering…

Attending the Solace ARISE domestic violence awareness program helped Milena understand the dynamics of abuse and rebuild her confidence and self-agency and build resilience to further abuse by recognising early abusive behaviours. Weekly 1-1 emotional and practical support meant she had consistent support to work through her experiences and also start to stabilise her financial situation. Participating in a Solace parenting programme vitally helped rebuild and improve her relationship with her daughter.

The journey continues…

Having accessed a foundation of specialist support through the refuge, Milena has now been referred to our counselling team to help work through more of the emotional scars inflicted by abuse and she will also get practical support and further independence through our Leap into Work scheme.


This International Women’s Day Solace launches urgent campaign to support 100s more women

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This International Women’s Day London charity launches urgent campaign to support 100s more women recover from sexual violence, as reported rapes in the capital increase by 20%


They might seem invisible but women in London are being raped and sexually assaulted right now.
In order to ensure every woman and girl that comes forward can recover from the trauma of sexual violence, Solace Women’s Aid is launching an urgent London-wide campaign, #StandTogether with Naomi, to raise £50,000 for life-saving rape counselling services.

Sadiq Khan, London Mayor, said:
“Keeping Londoners safe is my number-one priority but violence against women and girls is on the rise. I want to do everything I can to address this issue and ensure all women and girls in London feel safe – including funding Rape Crisis centres, Sexual Assault Referral Centres and other specialist services across the capital. As a long term supporter of the work of Solace Women’s Aid, I’m proud to support their #StandTogether campaign and the work they’re doing to support victims of rape and sexual assault.”


There have been over 8,000 rapes and 11,000 sexual assaults reported in London in the last year, a shocking increase of almost 20%.

Statistics are important but they don’t begin to tell you of the trauma, devastation and the psychological pain that rape and sexual assault victims experience. Without help some women end up self-harming and feel like ending it all.

Women like Naomi, who was raped by a colleague. Luckily Naomi found Solace and had life-saving counselling sessions to help her recover from the horrific attack. Another survivor said:

“In my final year of university my world stopped. I was brutally and horrifically sexually assaulted. Solace is a charity who helped save me from drowning in an unspoken world, a lonely dreadful place.”

But too many women don’t get the support they need, when they need it. Solace has been forced to close their counselling waiting lists and turn away women who bravely seek help. This can’t go on.


Mary Mason, CEO Solace Women’s Aid, said:
“Until violence against women and girls stops, Solace is appealing to London to stand together and support victims of rape and sexual assault; as we simply don’t have the means to help the rising number of women and girls seeking our help.”


The campaign will be launched at Solace Women’s Aid’s International Women’s’ Day event – 200 Women Stand Together. The event, in partnership with Mayer Brown International law firm, will encourage women across the city to come together, celebrate achievements, address the challenges women still face and pledge to make change happen so women can live safe lives and strong futures, free from harassment and abuse.


Sally Davies, Partner in Charge, Mayer Brown International LLB, said:
“Mayer Brown’s Corporate Social Responsibility team and London Women’s Network are delighted to host Solace Women’s Aid’s International Women’s Day event. We are committed to diversity and inclusion in all areas of our business and work hard to support the successful recruitment, retention and progression of our female talent. We also value the opportunity to work with organisations in our local community that are focused on improving the lives of vulnerable women. We are proud to support the work that Solace do.”

Volunteer Newsletter March 2018

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Happy International Women’s Day

I hope you enjoy the Internal Women’s Day celebrations throughout this month. This years International Women’s Day theme is #PressForProgress. Don’t forget to #solacevolunteers and #PressForProgress. We have many new exciting volunteer opportunities to get involved in this month, across many different London boroughs. We are especially looking for skilled and talented women who can facilitate groups for our service users. I hope you enjoy this edition of the Solace volunteer’s newsletter.

Volunteer Newsletter March 2018

Thank you
Volunteer Coordinator

Solace says #itsnotok to myths surrounding sexual violence

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Sexual Violence Awareness week is taking place from 5th – 12th February 2018. It aims to encourage the general public to join in the conversation about sexual abuse, by promoting the message that #ItsNotOk.

At Solace, our purpose is to make change happen – and so we’re joining in the conversation too, by addressing some of the biggest myths surrounding sexual violence . Myths are dangerous, born from a need to find sense in senseless situations, and in the context of sexual violence attempt to explain/justify violent or disturbing acts. This post hopes to help eradicate these myths, and the consequential prejudices and stereotypes that they strengthen.

MYTH 1: Women are most at risk when travelling at home late at night

No. In actual fact, the majority of rapes are committed by persons known to the victim (approximately 90% ). Date or acquaintance rape is very common, and assaults regularly take place in the victim’s home. The outdated notion of scary figures lurking in alleys is not only threatening, but misleading too – as it reinforces the message that home is safe, and rape can be prevented by avoiding certain places (putting blame on the victim). It also assumes a particular victim profile, i.e. women out in the evenings, further entrenching societal prejudices surrounding class and/or race.

MYTH 2: Women provoke rape by the way they act or dress

Let’s get this straight. Wearing a short skirt is not an invitation for unwanted attention. Only the rapist is responsible for rape. This attitude excuses sexual violence, seeks to blame the victim, and perpetuates attitudes like “she was asking for it”. Absolutely no assumptions can or should be made from a person’s dress or behaviour… yet a third of people in the UK believe women who flirt are partially responsible for being raped .

MYTH 3: Rape is a crime of passion
Perhaps the scariest myth for us, because the chilling facts indicate the very opposite. Research conducted with rapists indicates:
• Most rapes are premeditated and planned;
• Many rapists fail to get an erection or ejaculate;
• Perpetrators rape to feel powerful and in control, not for sexual pleasure.

In stark contrast, the above statement implies that sexual violence is impulsive – an uncontrollable lust, purely about sexual gratification, that perpetrators are incapable of controlling. It also serves to excuse, minimise and romanticise rape, whilst disregarding elements such as power, aggression, violence, control and humiliation. Not only that, but it paints an inaccurate victim profile, assuming that only ‘attractive’ women are raped.

MYTH 4: Women cry rape when they regret having sex, or want revenge

Behold the ‘vindictive woman’: viciously spiting an ex-partner, or perhaps lying to avoid owning up to a drunken mistake. This mythical figure accounts for an estimated 0.6% of rape allegations , whilst the associated stereotyping re-victimises and stigmatises the other 99.4%, undermining their support in seeking justice, and portraying women as altogether untrustworthy.

MYTH 5: You can’t rape a prostitute

The legal definition of rape in England and Wales, as defined in the Sexual Offences Act in 2003, is as follows:

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—

(a) he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis,

(b) B does not consent to the penetration, and

(c) A does not reasonably believe that B consents.

(2) Whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps A has taken to ascertain whether B consents.

The key word here: consent. Consent is not ongoing; it is something that has to be asked for every time any new form of sexual activity takes place, even it is with a previous sexual partners or a sex worker. Sex workers have the same rights regarding consent as anyone else, and as such the transactions that they negotiate are only for consensual activities. However, the viewpoint that rape somehow does not apply in this context serves to further disempower sex workers, by providing an excuse for abuse and discouraging sex workers to report sexual violence crimes.

MYTH 6: If she didn’t scream or fight, it can’t have been rape

The brain responds to threat in different ways, and in states of complete panic our responses are reflexive and under virtually no conscious control . In cases of sexual violence, we refer to the most common physiological responses as ‘the 4 Fs’: Fight, Flight, Freeze, and Flop.

As Freeze and Flop suggest, victims of rape will often appear to cooperate, so as to minimise the risk of harm or homicide. It is therefore extremely common for there to be no visible evidence of non-consensual evidence on the body, despite this myth’s assumption that rape is always a violent encounter. This stance discredits, doubts and re-traumatises the victim, invalidating her experience. Consequently, disbelief is one of the biggest barriers to speaking out against sexual violence – and you can understand why.

For more information and for other myths surrounding sexual violence, please visit the Rape Crisis England & Wales website

Spread the Word

If it’s safe for you to share this information, then please help spread the word that #ItsNotOk, in support of Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2018.

If you feel affected by anything you’ve read, please call our

North London Rape Crisis helpline on 0808 801 0305.

Out support line is open 21 hours a week.

Monday and Friday 10.00am – 2.00pm
Tuesday 10.00am – 1.00pm and 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Wednesday and Thursday 1.00pm – 5.00pm

“The first person I told changed everything”

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The moment when survivors choose to tell someone about what has happened is critical. The right response can give someone the courage to take the next steps towards recovery. Would you know what to do if someone told you they were experiencing domestic or sexual abuse?

Solace training is developed and delivered by practitioners who work on the front line, supporting survivors on a day to day basis, drawing on their up-to-date knowledge and experience to help people develop the skills they need to recognise and respond to domestic and sexual abuse.

Our next courses:
• Supporting Survivors of Sexual Abuse, 8th March, 2018
• Supporting Survivors of Domestic Abuse, 20th March, 2018

Both training days will run from 9.30 – 4.30, at The Cripplegate Foundation, 13 Elliott’s Place, London, N1 8HX. Join us and learn how you could be a vital source of support for someone who needs your help.

Our previous participants said:
“The very practical and immediately applicable content absolutely met my expectations”
“I feel more empowered to respond on an individual and professional level”
“Useful to have practical advice, and to be up to date. Very detailed and comprehensive training – thank you”

Volunteer Newsletter January 2018

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I hope you all had a great time over the holiday season. Solace has changed it’s look and we are really excited to be launching our new brand. The volunteer service has been busy reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure we provide an overall better experience for our volunteers. Further information will be out in the next few months. In this issue read about our volunteer celebration and awards ceremony that took place in December 2017 and much more.

Volunteer Newsletter March 2018

Thank you
Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteer Awards 2017

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In December we held the volunteer awards ceremony. We would like to say a huge congratulations to all those volunteers who received an award and a big thank you to those who attended the event. We do hope you enjoyed the event and especially the quiz.

Volunteer Empowerment Award – Camilla

Camilla has performed her role as NLRC helpline volunteer since February 2017. It has been an absolutely pleasure to work with Camilla as she is unfailingly enthusiastic and committed to our work in combating injustice and gender inequality. Camilla has contributed to empower survivors reaching the helpline by explaining their rights, recognizing the abuse and providing different alternatives. Camilla has been an inspiration for other members of the team and for the new volunteers whom she has been supporting. I feel that we have gained not only an excellent professional for our team but we have the pleasure of working with someone extremely kind, who genuinely inspired us all. She has a very approachable manner, is an excellent listener and genuinely cares about the well-being of others. Having witnessed Camilla’s dedication and commitment to her work with NLRC, I wish to recommend her for the Volunteer Empowerment Award.

Volunteer Empowerment Award – Nora

Nora has been providing weekly 1:1 support to a current service user for the past 6 months. She supports the service user in identifying her goals and taking small realistic steps to achieve them. Nora is calm and supportive yet has a positive, can do attitude which is truly empowering. The service user she is supporting has gone from strength to strength and is very grateful to Nora for the motivation, encouragement and belief she has in her.
Nora’s strength and courage is inspirational and she has truly made a difference to the woman’s lives she has touched and that is why we believe Nora deserves the Volunteer Empowerment Award.

Volunteer Commitment Award – Catherine

Catherine has been committed to delivering massage treatments for the WRAP Project at Hornsey Road. Catherine has provided numerous massage sessions over the past two years which have helped the women who attend to relax, take time out for themselves and be in a safe and supportive environment. Catherine has shown great generosity, commitment and care towards the women and her efforts have been much appreciated.

Volunteer Commitment Award – Emina

Emina is absolutely wonderful to work with. She is very committed to Solace and this shows in the quality of her work, her keenness in attending a number of training sessions and also volunteering for the Solace Advice Line.
Emina has undertaken a variety of tasks at Waltham Forest SASS including assisting with covering duty, admin, making initial contact with service users and completing risk assessments with them. Emina is very skilled in working with service users and has an understanding and empathetic approach towards them. The team at Waltham Forest have been very impressed with her ability to quickly understand the tasks and help us out during a consistently busy advocacy service.
We are thankful for Emina’s help, commitment and enthusiasm towards not just assisting service users but the team. Emina demonstrates initiative and has a wonderful sense of humour to match!
Emina is truly valued within the team and we wish her best in any roles she chooses to undertake in future – we know she will be an asset wherever she goes.

Volunteer of the Year Award – Jamie

In her role as NLRC helpline volunteer, Jamie has been providing emotional support over the phone to women and girls who have experienced sexual violence for more than 200 hours since February 2017. Jamie has conducted her role very effectively, showing excellent use of essential listening skills and an empathetic and truly approachable manner with survivors seeking support and with colleagues requiring assistance. As such, she is a well-respected and trusted member of our team who could be relied upon to provide support and complete work to the highest standards. Jamie has offered valuable assistance to the NLRC team during busy times and for the last months she has also been supporting the SWA Advice team volunteering simultaneously for both services. Her insight on improvements we can implement based on her experience of working in these two services has been invaluable. Jamie is an extremely kind, thoughtful, dedicated and committed person. Her work has been outstanding compared with other volunteers which is why I believe that she should be granted the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Volunteer Newcomer Award – Eve

Eve is passionate about supporting survivors of domestic violence and children who have fled their homes. This was immediately evident during Eve’s first few hours at the refuge as she confidently supported a new resident with attending a GP appointment. Eve’s warmth and empathy was so appreciated that the resident later reported to me that Eve was very caring and the support Eve provided was really helpful. Eve has been supporting mothers and children during key work sessions. Children look forward to having Eve present and really enjoy the activities she prepares for them. Eve has a proactive attitude when it comes to supporting the children at the refuges.
Eve played a strong part in a key work session where a mother was very nervous about accepting accommodation offered to her. Eve supported the mother by exploring the pros and cons of the accommodation, reassured the mother that there will be resettlement support and as a result, the service user decided to accept the accommodation and left the key work session feeling supported.

Volunteer Length of Service Award – Ida

Ida has been a volunteer with Solaces counselling service since November 2008. I was amazed when I looked through Ida’s file to see how long she has been giving her time and supporting to so many women. I met Ida when I joined in November 2014 when she came upstairs to see Roxana who was the Senior Counsellor at the time. I know Ida won’t mind me saying that IT was not her thing at the time but she has shown much perseverance in getting to know the new Oasis system and has cracked it!

Looking back at the records that were kept I am only able to go back to 2011 as prior to this my understanding is that everything was recorded on paper! Just going back and viewing the records we have I would say Ida has been allocated around 100 clients which is incredible.

During the time I have known Ida she regularly attends the clinical counselling meetings where she is always happy to explore her clients and share her knowledge with other counsellors in the team with whom she has developed a good relationship. It is always a pleasure to see Ida when she pops into the office as she has a great sense of humor and will always bring a smile to your day. I feel Ida should be given the Volunteer Length of Service Award as she really has been a fantastic volunteer and truly deserves this for all the help and support she has given to women and to the counselling team. Amazing dedication.

Royal Parks Half Marathon 2018

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Cropped Eva

Run for safe lives and strong futures. Violence against women and girls ends with you.

Join the Racing Against Violence team by taking part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon 2018 to help get closer to a future free from domestic abuse and sexual violence. Run through the beautiful parks of London this autumn, past Buckingham Palace and the other amazing sites and the atmosphere is incredible! Join our team today.

Date: 14th October 2018
Registration Fee: £35
Sponsorship: £225
To reserve your place today email: fundraising@solacewomensaid.org

Thank you for Supporting The Big Give

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Thank you to everyone who made a donation to our Big Give Christmas Campaign.

We received over 50 donations raising £10,243, then with gift aid and match funding from The Childhood Trust we raised an amazing £22346.25!

This donation will provide a play worker to work across our refuges, supporting 277 children for a year from April 2018. Play work is vital to helping a child reclaim their childhood, and be on their path to recovery. It is essential to be able to offer this is refuges as two thirds of the women living in refuge will have children. We support over 100 children refuge at any one time.

So thank you to everyone who got involved or made a donation to the Campaign. You have changed the future for these children.

16 days of action – Working with GPs to identify & respond to domestic abuse

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Domestic abuse and violence threatens women’s physical health, mental health, social functioning, and poses a serious public health problem with devastating health consequences. There are also enormous costs to the health services. As I write this, somewhere in an emergency department, GP surgery or at a dentist clinic, our medical professionals- doctors, nurses, midwives (to name a few) will be dealing with situations where women have been assaulted, injured or emotionally and psychologically abused. Primary care clinicians potentially have a key role in the identification of and provide initial professional response to domestic violence and abuse. Victims who are abused are more likely to be in touch with health services than any other professional or agencies.

GP surgery staff can play a crucial role, GPs are the only professionals that consistently and actively engage with both victims and perpetrators.

The IRIS Service has been rolled out in different boroughs in London and across some parts of England, Wales and Scotland. The service aims to train all staff within GP Practices on domestic violence and abuse (DVA), clinical enquiry, care pathways and an enhanced referral pathway to specialist domestic violence services. The training helps in enhancing knowledge on DVA as well as challenging pre-existing attitudes and beliefs of doctors and nurses. The training provides information on how to ask their patients whether they are experiencing domestic violence and abuse. A referral pathways is then set up and early intervention is provided to support and ensure the safety of women and their children.

The sad reality of many women who are abused is the fact that they are constantly monitored and controlled, therefore meeting patients face to face at the GP surgeries means that they are able to speak to the IRIS AEs safely and without arousing suspicion.

Many patients referred to IRIS go to their GP because they are reluctant and frightened to report to the police and feel more confident for their information to be recorded by their surgery. Some of these women have a long traumatic history of complex needs and can sometimes be hard to engage with. The advantage, however, in some cases is that IRIS AEs can quickly liaise with the victim’s GP in order to ensure that they are seen quickly and referrals are made to support any physical or mental health needs.

We have also noticed increased referrals from older women. Sometimes older women feel a sense of shame and are more hesitant to talk about their situation for many years and have been living in emotionally abusive and financially controlling relationships. Older women may feel reluctant to report incidents to the police but find it easier to approach their GP.

Solace IRIS in Islington has trained and are engaging with 80% of the surgeries within Islington. Our referrals have increased which means that GP staff are now more confident in enquiring and identifying DVA. This means that more victims of domestic abuse are getting the help and support they so desperately need, often at a time when their confidence, self-esteem and resilience is at an all-time low. Children in families where domestic abuse occurs are often traumatised even if the abuse is not directed at them and early identification and intervention can have a significant impact on a child’s development assisting with building up resilience and a positive outlook.

“ When you are alone your support can be the difference between wanting to end it or for me to carry on. I feel able to manage life with the support on my own.” Service User, Solace IRIS

16 days of action – Sexual Harassment – the last taboo at work?

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Sexual Harassment – the last taboo at work?

The subject of work place sexual harassment has exploded post Weinstein with a host of other men who have been named for what they are – sexual predators. Let’s not pretend that it has been easy to recall, relive and name perpetrators even though much of it has been done online. Many women have joined the #MeToo campaign, and whilst not all have named their perpetrator, they have all spoken about the experiences of sexual harassment they have endured; be it yesterday or years past.

To be clear the definition of sexual harassment in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involves the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks or put another way sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which;
• violates your dignity
• makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated
• creates a hostile or offensive environment

And you don’t need to have previously objected to someone’s behaviour for it to be considered unwanted.

What is plain, is that many companies, organisations and even government bodies have had the effectiveness of their workplace sexual harassment policy’s called-out as stacked against women being able to make a complaint in the first place, or complaints not being taken seriously, where both the culture and leadership have been complicit in ‘making complaints go away’.

How to change this and where to start?
It might not seem a selling-point in terms of staff recruitment, but all new staff must be told that sexual harassment is not tolerated. Safe recruitment practices are a vital step in creating safe places to work.

It has to be talked about and everyone has to be committed making sure everyone is safe at work as perpetrators rely on silence. Every workplace needs a sexual harassment and abuse policy. Effective ones define what sexual harassment is and clearly stated consequences. “It’s not okay” needs to be the mantra and the consequences must be clear and enforced with no exceptions for rank or seniority.

In fact, standards of professional conduct and behaviour should be in the contract of employment and made explicitly clear; and ‘how we work with each other’ should be on notice boards, on meeting agendas, in newsletters, on the intranet and even pinned up in the loo, so no place exists for a perpetrator to hide behind.

If someone needs to make a complaint they need to have more than a visit to HR and a formal complaint form. They may also need an advocate to support them as many employee’s feel that some HR departments are not there for them but work for the company. Irrespective of whether this is true or not, it takes a great deal of courage and resilience to make a complaint and see it through. A good employer will also make clear the limits of confidentiality that exist and whether or not a report about sexual harassment triggers notification to senior management.

To really show support for their staff, everyone should also have access to an external route to make a complaint and to receive support. To do this, companies should name and publicise their local rape crisis centre or domestic violence organisation giving their contact details.

No one is untouchable, no matter if they are talented high performers, because it is a fact that perpetrators target people they believe are vulnerable, less believable, or less powerful than them.