Earlier this month, many of us were lucky enough to stand in the Pride in London parade which saw thousands of the LGBTQ+ community and allies alike, come together and celebrate the undeniable milestones the community and its supporters have made over the last 50 years.
Since the Stonewall Riots 50 years ago, communities have come together, embraced each other for their differences and welcomed those who, in many circumstances, may not have the help and support they need and deserve.
As a gay woman, I was unbelievably proud to be part of the parade. Standing alongside so many of the LGBTQ+ community who were equally as proud (albeit, far more fabulous) as me. Not only that, but also standing with Stay Brave in their first year of having a presence in the Pride in London parade. Having worked alongside them for over a year, seeing the hard work of all members of the charity - all volunteers - celebrated during the parade, was something truly special.
Along the way, I chatted to many of those who had come to see the parade. When explaining what we do, what we work towards and how we work to help those who are survivors of rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse to get the help they may need and respect they deserve, I often got a similar reaction. A simple smile and an understanding nod. Something which, as a survivor of sexual assault myself, meant more than anyone could know.
Telling others about being a survivor of sexual assault, for me, often feels like ‘coming out’. It is one of the hardest things for me to talk about and telling someone new can be one of the most daunting of experiences - no matter how supportive or qualified they are to help and support me.
I know that I am not alone in this fear. The statistics show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experience some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime. These numbers, which are already shocking, are higher for those in the LGBTQ+ community. As well as this, another statistic states that 31% of adults who experience interpersonal abuse will not tell anyone of their experience - with a large proportion only telling partners, family or friends.
Our Speaking Out survey aims to help us, other organisations and survivors across the UK, understand why survivors speak out, and why they don’t.
Having that understanding smile and nod from Pride parade supporters made me feel that I was accepted, not alone and that I was understood. Something so important to everyone and why we were all marching in the parade and celebrating our differences.
Stay Brave works alongside those who may not have access to the services they need when it comes to coming forward and seeking help about their experiences. Many have been turned away from services due to being male or for a number of other reasons. Like Finn, who tried to contact services to ask for help, and was turned away.
The importance of Stay Brave existing and having a place in the Pride in London parade, walking alongside those in the LGBTQ+ community, and supporting survivors, no matter their experiences or their circumstances, is immeasurable. Stay Brave will continue to support survivors in getting the help they need and the respect they deserve.
To those who need us, we are here. For those who support us, we couldn’t do it without you. For those who see us and understand, thank you. To fellow survivors, you are not alone.
Sophie Mills is the Digital & Engagement Manager at Stay Brave and a freelance copywriter and digital wizard.
You can check out her work on her website: www.copytothewriter.co.uk