Who Commissions Support for Survivors?
Like many who have been sexually abused as children I suppressed the memories of the abuse for many years as a self-protective mechanism. It was only in the last couple of years that I have found those memories and feeling beginning to surface despite my best efforts to keep them down.
As they did my own mental health deteriorated and I began looking for support and help only to find that there seemed to be no help tailored to Adult survivors of abuse available in Somerset. Even that provided by charities was sparse and focused in the bigger cities.
This prompted me to begin asking questions believing that either the NHS or Local Authority would be responsible for the recognition of the need for such support and its provision. After finding little or no information on the web sites of wither the Clinical Commissioning Group or the local authority I decided to ask, via a freedom of information request, what provision they had in place and what their planed provision was.
I was amazed that the organisation responsible for commissioning health services, the Clinical Commissioning group, did not, and had no plans to, commission the sort of support adult survivors need, instead seeming to think that ‘general’ mental health support was enough.
Equally the local authority has no plans to commission support services for adults, despite seeming recognising the same need in children, and committing £50,000 per year.
Perhaps what surprised me most was the suggestion from the local authority that provision of mental health support being the responsibility of the police via the Police and crime commissioners. While any support would be welcome, and there is obviously a policing interest in historic child abuse and supporting victims who may wish to disclose to the police, can it be right for the responsibility for supporting adults who have been abused as children be left to them?
I had thought that such support is a health issue and rightly the province of the NHS and local authority provision.
It seems absurd that the provision of mental health support and treatment is being off loaded to the criminal justice system.