Free Online Counselling for Male Survivors

Ben’s Place - launches West Yorkshire wide Free online Counselling for Male Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Rape roadside billboard awareness campaign

Survivors West Yorkshire (www.survivorswestyorkshire.org.uk) West Yorkshire’s only online specialist support service for Male Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Rape - Ben’s Place - launches a West Yorkshire 
wide Free Counselling roadside billboard awareness campaign during August and September 2018.

Researchers have found that 1 in 6 men have experienced abusive sexual experiences before the age of 18. This is probably a low estimate, since it doesn’t include noncontact experiences, which can also have lasting negative effects. West Yorkshire has some of the highest rates of sexual crime in the UK.

On Bank Holiday Monday August 27th Survivors West Yorkshire’s dedicated specialist online counselling service for male survivors will launch a two-week roadside billboard campaign across West Yorkshire with a main focus in Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield advertising its free online counselling service Ben’s Place. Promoting the public awareness message “Sexual abuse is something I experienced IT'S NOT WHO I AM".

Survivors West Yorkshire is grateful for the public donations which are allowing us to raise public awareness of Ben’s Place. Ben’s Place is named after a Leeds male survivor who experienced childhood sexual abuse between the ages 10 and 13. Ben took his own life shortly after his 23rd birthday.

The mission of Ben’s Place is to deliver a specialist support and advice service to adult male survivors (currently aged 16 plus) who are ready to look for help with their experiences of sexual crimes committed against them. Simply knowing you’re not alone is powerful and healing for many male survivors, especially given societies denial of sexual violence- abuse often.

As evidenced by the latest reports from the Inquiry into Childhood Sexual Abuse (IICSA) led by Prof, Alex Jay. Ben’s Place is a pioneering and secure specialist sexual violence - abuse digital cloud based free counselling service. ** (It does not offer a crisis service but will offer emotional support and advice during its operating hours. Its counsellors are BACP registered and have undergone specialist training to work online). 

Ben’s mother said: “I am moved that the life and memory of my son will not be forgotten in Ben’s Place. I am also overwhelmed that Ben’s Place will be a free service to help, support and counsel male survivors of sexual abuse." Ben’s Place currently only offers online services.

However, as its virtual service develops and becomes sustainable its objective is to combine its virtual offerings with a range of off-line workshops and outreach to support male survivors to live a thriving and healthy life beyond their individual experiences of sexual violence-abuse. 

One of the first clients using the video platform commented: “This is so easy to use, I’m going to buy a better camera and set of head phones - thank you.” Mark Burns-Williamson West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said in 2016: “The needs of victims will always come first and I am delighted to have been able to support Ben’s Place and the work of Survivor’s West Yorkshire in providing this distinctive service.” 

The founder and CEO of Survivors West Yorkshire, Bob Balfour said: “My ambition for Ben’s Place is that any male survivor anywhere in West Yorkshire will be able to connect easily to counselling support using the internet and have a simple message spoken to them: “You’ve never been alone – we’ve been working hard for decades to create safe spaces and we’re pleased you’ve found us.”

Survivors West Yorkshire has for 20 years proactively lobbied to improve services. It believes that when society hears and listens to the stories of recovery and growth survivors experience when they able to access good practice specialist services. Society will want to support the amazing courage males show in breaking their silence to recover from the sexual crimes - done to them - as children or adults. 

Ben’s Place’s initial technology infrastructure development took place during 2016 and 2017 and was made possible with seed funding from the West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), supported by his team at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).