A spike in reported cases of sexual abuse in the past five years is being seen as a positive sign of courage by victims brave enough to speak out.
‘People are starting to get their head around that it’s not a crime of shame’
Sexual assault victim advocate Louise Nicholas says more historic sex abuse survivors are coming forward now.
Victim advocates claim it shows more people are speaking out about the issue as the stigma around it disappears.
“Through talking to other sexual abuse survivors it became very clear to me that people didn’t talk about this and it needed to be spoken about.”
Crime statistics show victims are beginning to agree with Ms Sloane.
In 2001, there were 2,334 sexual assaults reported which increased in 2006 (2,838 reported) and again in 2011 (3,466) - and last year alone the numbers soared to 5,232.
Victim advocate Louise Nicholas says she doubts this is down to a rise in sex attacks.
She says more historic sex abuse survivors are coming forward – including a huge increase in men speaking out, as well as children.
“People are starting to get their heads around that it’s not a crime of shame,” she said
“It’s that a crime has been committed and I need support and help to be able to move forward.”
Ms Nicholas says she’s seen a shift in the way police deal with assault victims too and says they’re now more empathetic.
Police say they have changed the way they do things, including increased training for new recruits and say they’re now working better with associated agencies.
Detective Inspector David Kirby says there’s more trust from victims that police will believe their cases.
“I think there’s an increased level of confidence to come to us that we will believe them and we will treat them with respect and investigate their complaints.”