A petition is calling for Brookes wellbeing team to get a therapist specialised in sexual trauma

This support group is petitioning to make it happen

Say it Loud, a sexual violence support group started by Brookes student Meredith Graham, are petitioning for Oxford Brookes to hire a therapist for their wellbeing team that is specialised in sexual trauma – which they currently don’t have.

We spoke to Say it Loud founder Meredith Graham to find out more about what Say it Loud does and why the petition is important.

Why did you set up the petition?

I set up the petition as from my own experience and from students’ feedback; I felt that having someone who is specialised in sexual trauma would be beneficial to the wellbeing team and students due to the fact that sexual trauma and trauma in general has very specific needs and goals that need to be seen to. These specific needs are issues such as: having the support on how to disclose sexual trauma to other professionals as well as loved ones, being aware of the implications sexual violence has on someone (e.g. PTSD) and knowing how to cope with new anxieties and distresses such as distress around intimacy, finding it difficult to trust people around you, feeling like you have little control, issues with body image etc.

Why is this important?

It is incredibly important that the wellbeing team are equipped and resourceful in helping support those who are victims of sexual violence due to the unfortunate fact that majority of university students experience sexual violence or a form of sexual assault at some point in their university experience.

What sort of support is there in place at the moment?

Currently, I am working alongside the student union and the wellbeing team as women’s officer to make sure there is support in place. The welfare team at Brookes are incredibly knowledgable on appropriate services and crisis teams, specifically for sexual trauma. There is also Say it Loud – a listening service founded by myself which is ideal if you would like to vent about what has happened to you and are needing support on which service may best fit your needs.

What do Say it Loud do?

Say it Loud has a team of 17 people. We have 12 support mentors that have either experience in working in the mental health field, have training in supporting those who have experienced sexual trauma or have experience a form of sexual violence themselves. The team is split up into parts:

  • Two LGBTQ officers: Meriel and Zoe
  • Ethnic minority officer: Lauren Jones
  • Journalist: Eleanor Russel,
  • Head of social media: Ellen Williams
  • Head of campaigns: Leanne Hey
  • Videographer: Harriet Staniland 
  • Mental health officer: Jessica Kalirai
  • Graphic designer: Dimple 

The team is split into specialities so we can cater towards those needs when posting informative and educating posts on our Instagram.

Say it Loud will be opening up the listening services and support group to male victims of sexual violence in 2021 and we are looking for male support mentors. We are currently working on producing podcasts as well as working on different campaigns such as our goal of getting consent to be a mandatory lesson in primary schools and will be working on this in the new year. We are also going to be working with the Mental Wealth Academy who work with 16-25 year olds across Oxfordshire and provide a friendly, safe and non-judgemental space to talk. 

Why did the group begin?

I made the group after feeling that with my own experience that I was not encouraged to speak out about what had happened to me. I am incredibly passionate about making sure topics such as mental health and sexual trauma are not seen as taboo. We started gaining more followers and members once we started talking about topics that are often not spoken about such as coercion sexual violence and sexual violence within the LGBTQ community. 

We are always looking for more team members and I am more than happy to help the best I can, please do contact myself on [email protected] about any queries within Brookes and how I can help or [email protected] if you’d like to join the team.

You can find Say it Loud on Instagram here and their Facebook page here and their Facebook group here.

A spokesperson from Oxford Brookes University said: “The welfare of our students is of the utmost importance to Oxford Brookes and the university provides a range of support and advice including confidential counselling, access to specialist advisors, a range of self-help resources and links to local networks and resources. We meet regularly with Students Union Welfare Officers and the Women’s Officer to address any concerns and issues, and liaise closely with specialist services including the Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre.”

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