Campaign to encourage sexual violence victims to seek help

The Ministry of Justice and Security launched a campaign to prompt victims of sexual violence to seek help. 22 percent of women and 6 percent of men in the Netherlands have been forced to perform sexual acts at least once, but many victims don't dare to talk about it, NOS reports.

According to the designers of the campaign, seeking help quickly after a sexual assault is of great importance. Not only can doing so prevent unwanted pregnancy and STDs, but talking to a psychologist quickly also reduces the chance of post-traumatic stress disorder. It also makes it more likely that DNA traces of the perpetrator can be secured, to use as evidence later. 

"Victims do not seek help quickly because they are ashamed or feel guilty", Iva Bicanic of the Center for Sexual Violence said to NOS. "For example, because they cooperated during sex or did nothing, while we know that this is normal victim behavior. 70 percent of victims do nothing or cooperate."

Minister Sander Dekker for Legal Protection hopes that this campaign will encourage victims to seek help. "That applies not only to people who this just happened to, but also to those who suffered from a radical sexual experience a longer time ago", he said. 

The campaign, titled 'What can help me', includes posters and billboards at schools and places of entertainment, and a website on which victims tell their story and explain how seeking aid helped them. The campaign was developed by the Ministries of Justice and Security and Public Health, Welfare and Sports, the Center for Sexual Violence, Victim Support Netherlands, police, Public Prosecution Service, Rutgers, and foundation Slachtofferhulp.