Suggestion box at Chin Up Cardiff's launch event

Support group launched to provide a community for survivors of sexual assault

‘It’s not therapy – it’s just that you’re in a space where everyone understands’

A SUPPORT group to help survivors of sexual assault fight isolation has been launched in Roath.

Chin Up Cardiff will be running a variety of activities such as yoga, book clubs, or board games every month with the aim to create a safe space and inclusive community.

Founder and chief executive Ella Dewhurst said: “It’s about making sure that there’s a space for people to come and just not feel alone and isolated.”

Ella has a degree in psychology and has been working in well-being and mental health services for the last five years.

She said: “If you’ve been sexually assaulted and choose to prosecute, you are limited in the counselling you can receive. 

“The notes are brought forward as evidence in the court which can often be damaging and traumatic for the survivor.”

According to Rape Crisis England and Wales, police routinely try to access the counselling notes of rape victims.

It shared the story of one survivor who said: “It was like a physical punch because I wasn’t expecting it … My most intimate sexual details shared with my abuser. Not just the defence and the court, but my abuser. It is so sick, invasive and perverse.”

Ella said: “I think there’s a lot of people being let down.

“If you think of sexual assault in its purest form, it’s an invasion of privacy. 

“Then to have that invaded upon multiple situations – not only do you have to repeat the story and, if it’s a recent thing, go to a SARC … have rape kits done on you …

“All those things are really hard, to then have your mental privacy invaded and your digital privacy invaded – it’s just wrong.”

The group will not be based in one location, but instead rotate round different spaces in Roath and Cathays.

Some of the volunteers who work at Chin Up Cardiff. Ella Dewhurst ( left) and co-founder Beth Ford (to her right). Credit: Ella Dewhurst

Ella said: “You don’t get too stuck to one place, so you can do more.

“We’d love to run sessions in gyms and things like that. It’s kind of just taking back spaces which everyone has the right to.

“We’re aware as a team that we have to earn people’s trust, I don’t think that we have the right to assume that people are just going to be okay with this, and trust us.

“We want to be as careful with that as we can be.”

Currently made up of 10 volunteers, the team is raising money on Go Fund Me to cover venue hire, insurance and other costs for setting up the charity.

Their first session will be on the March 7 in Cathays at a venue and time to be confirmed.

  • You can find out more information or donate here.