A charity aiming to bring the “hidden issue” of rape into the open has launched a new, free service across Waveney.

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The Waveney Domestic Violence and Abuse Forum has unveiled a rape crisis counselling service for the district.

And, in an effort to highlight the new counselling service, the forum has published a new leaflet signposting locals to all the appropriate agencies as well as listing the new 24-hour confidential telephone number for victims.

Maureen Duckworth, the charity’s domestic violence co-ordinator, said: “We now have a rape crisis counselling service available in Waveney, provided by the forum, which has been set up with funding from Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore. With the low statistics nationally of rape prosecutions, we felt that people are not going to police and are suffering in silence.

“It’s a huge problem in Waveney and with there being no counselling service in the district for the past 18 months, and nowhere for people to go, it is important this rape crisis counselling service has returned to Waveney.”

Earlier this year, The Journal reported that services for the victims of domestic violence and abuse in Waveney had been boosted by new funding. Concerns had been voiced over the future of the forum, which supports hundreds of vulnerable people, after a major funding cut and the potential loss of Mrs Duckworth’s role.

The forum was established more than 30 years ago to prevent and tackle domestic abuse in Waveney. Working with statutory and voluntary agencies to raise awareness, it runs an information helpline which deals with 75 to 100 calls a month, offering support, advice and information.

And now, the rape crisis counselling service has been launched – with a confidential helpline available and trained advisor able to help via 07939 195 603. The new helpline is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 5pm, with an answerphone at all other times and calls answered within 24 hours.

With the service not just for women, but open to men as well, Mrs Duckworth said: “We spoke to Mr Passmore and said there was a great need.

“Rape is one of the worst crimes and this service is available to all. We are aware that there are a number of people in the community that may have issues that go back a number of years,” she added. “Please don’t think you can’t be helped, because you can.”

For more information visit www.openyourheart.org.uk

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