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Wall of Silence: Breaking the silence on child abuse

In July, Bournemouth University and Acts Fast will be presenting Southmead Project’s ‘Wall of Silence’, a display of images and stories that share the experience and impact of child abuse. The exhibition has already been shown across other towns and cities, including Bristol and Northampton (see http://southmeadproject.org.uk/wall-of-silence/). The exhibition will be accompanied by a conference.

Child abuse leaves a trail of destruction that pervades entire families, the impact of which lasts a lifetime. Yet, victims and survivors find it hard to talk for fear of judgement and disbelief. This powerful conference and exhibition will teach us how we can encourage victims and survivors that it’s OK to talk, and explore how victims and survivors can be supported.

Among the conference speakers will be Mike Peirce, MBE (CEO, Southmead Project, the creator of the Wall of Silence), Martyn Underhill (Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner) and Angus Campbell (Lord Lieutenant of Dorset). Other speakers will include survivors, parents, and support groups.

The exhibition takes place July 11th and 12th, 10.00-20.00, at Bournemouth University’s Talbot Campus. The conference takes place on July 11th 9.30-16.30 (on the same site).

Dr Mike Peirce, said “The exhibition not only highlights child abuse, its impact and the suffering this causes, but also the sheer determination and doggedness of those affected in trying to overcome the aftermath of that abuse: self-harming, substance misuse and sadly, attempts - sometimes successful, to take one’s life. The display has appeared at many venues across England and Wales and whilst raising awareness of the problems encountered by survivors and victims, it has crucially given them a voice. By bringing the exhibition to Bournemouth, the organising team are being entirely open in how they view child abuse and they are clearly demonstrating their belief and desire to help those who have this experience. Being believed means so much to so many; by their actions in staging this exhibition, the team is giving voice to victims and survivors and are a credit to themselves, Acts Fast, Bournemouth University and the concept of an inclusive, caring society”.

Mandy Gulliver, Acts Fast CEO said "I attended the exhibition at Bristol, and was keen to bring the ‘Wall of Silence’ to display in the South. I approached Bournemouth University, whowere more than happy to accommodate such important work. Acts Fast is passionate to keep highlighting the huge impact child abuse has on an individual, and their families.”“The conference will highlight the ongoing impact all family members have, following an earth-shattering disclosure of sexual abuse from their child/children. The need for ongoing support for the child/children and their families is paramount and need addressing, the trauma the family endures is wholly underestimated” Dr Andrew Mayers, Principal Academic at Bournemouth University, is Chair of Trustees at Acts Fast. He said “We know that child abuse has a huge impact on the victims and their families. Most children who are abused go on to experience a lifetime of mental health problems. Abuse is one of the biggest predictors of acute mental illness.” “We need to raise more awareness to prevent abuse and grooming (that precedes abuse). We also need more support services like Acts Fast to tackle the impact and reduce the devastation of abuse. However, we cannot do that without funding. This is our biggest challenge at Acts Fast.”

One speaker, Dorset-based campaigner Sue Crocombe, has been involved in several presentations of the Wall of Silence. Abused as a child, her story appears on the Wall. She said “I understand that people will feel uncomfortable about the idea of viewing an exhibition on the impact of child abuse. But, as survivors, we want others see it. We want them to hear our voices speaking out, breaking the silence of this taboo subject (at last). This exhibition isnot just about our pain, losses and confusion. It's also about our strength, resilience and pride in having survived such a terrible crime.”To book (free) tickets to attend the conference, go to https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/festival-of-learning/events/wall-of-silence-victims-of-child-sexual-abuse/.

Tickets are likely to go quickly. To read more about the exhibition, go to https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/festival-of-learning/events/exhibition-wall-of-silence-victims-of-child-sexual-abuse/. There is no need to book; just turn up. For more information on Acts Fast, please call 01202 797 217 or visit www.actsfast.org.uk. Donations, to support the work at Acts Fast can be made at http://www.actsfast.org.uk/donate/

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