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Older victims urged to speak out during Sexual Violence and Sexual Abuse Awareness Week

“It has been a life sentence.” These are the words of an older woman living with the scars of sexual abuse. 

Women over the age of 55 are less likely to speak openly about their experiences of sexual violence or seek help and support.   

That’s according to a report by the South West Rape Crisis Centre Partnership, which includes the Women’s Centre Cornwall, entitled the Chilling Silence, which found that some victims did not report abuse because “it appeared to be the way of the world then”. Others said as you get older you are expected to “get over it”.   

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During Sexual Violence and Sexual Abuse Awareness Week, Cornwall Council and Safer Cornwall are urging victims of all ages to speak out and say, ‘It’s Not Ok’.    

Anna MacGregor, domestic abuse co-ordinator at Cornwall Council said: “Anyone can be a victim of sexual abuse. It doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s not okay for someone to hurt you and violate your body.   

“Many older women who are experiencing abuse or have experienced abuse in the past feel they can’t talk about it or that the services available are for younger people. We want everyone that has being the victim of sexual abuse or violence to know that you will be listened to, believed and supported.  

“Some people may be feeling trapped, especially during lockdown, but our teams can still help and if you need to access safety or support you are allowed to leave your home.”  

Rob Nolan, Cornwall’s portfolio holder for Public Protection and Environment, said: “Our services tailor support for victims of all ages, backgrounds and genders.   

“We urge those who are suffering from sexual abuse and or violence, or the effects of historic abuse, to come forward and get the support they need. We want to keep you safe and support you in any way we can.”  

The Women’s Centre Cornwall, which contributed towards the Chilling Silence report, provides specialist support to older women who have been victims of sexual abuse.  

You can contact them by emailing 

To contact the Rape and Sexual Abuse and Domestic Abuse Helpline call 01208 77099. 

You can also contact Safer Futures 0300 777 4 777 or visit their website 

Story created on 5 February 2021