Sexual Abuse Centre.
Developing a website has brought many unexpected benefits for the Sexual Abuse Centre in Christchurch and has made them part of a global network of service providers to survivors of sexual abuse.
Approximately two years ago (2003) the Sexual Abuse Centre Board and Staff entered onto a journey to develop a website for the centre. This came about through the widening use of the Internet as a more mainstream tool to access information by people and for the centre a quick, efficient and effective tool in which we were able to disseminate our written material quickly and to a wider audience.
We started working with a website designer who was community focused and who was given the brief of “clean, concise, quick, non fussy and easy to download with the use of bright colours” so that the site was not instantly depressing as is often the case with sexual abuse information. The Sexual Abuse Centre is a place of counseling and support with a focus on healing and thriving and we wanted our website to reflect this.
Working with our website designer was a good experience and from the outset became a ‘global experience’ for the centre as Cass our website designer moved to the United Kingdom to undertake some work – our website was designed purely via email contacts and attachments which required clear communication from us and her – it worked well even with different time zonings.
As part of the website design, we had decided that we wanted a feedback page to ascertain whether we were providing useful information or not to people – this has been well utilized, not only by New Zealanders but by survivors and other allied professionals throughout the world.
We learned very quickly that we needed to establish relationships with other professionals throughout the world as the queries from survivors come through thick and fast and were not limited to New Zealand based questions that we could readily answer.
We now liaise closely with the FBI in the States around child protection and child abuse issues and have had a number of US survivor’s cases resolved by the FBI’s intervention. We have worked with a number of people around legal issues pertinent to their country, particularly in the UK, and have contacts to help us do that. We have also helped and assisted allied professionals with information and support in setting up survivor based programmes / groups in such areas of the world as Indonesia, Africa and Europe.
The website has become an incredibly useful tool for the centre, and one that none of us thought would take on such an important role for our centre – it has made our small world here in Christchurch truly part of a global community providing the highest quality services to survivors of sexual abuse and rape no matter what part of the world they are in.