A CHARITY which helps rape and sex assault victims has seen the number of people asking for help rocket since accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and Westminster politicians hit the headlines.

Cara, the Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse, which cares for victims across mid and north Essex, marked the beginning of a 16-day campaign against sex abuse today by stating more than 30 new victims every week are seeking help, an increase of about 25 per cent since July.

Bosses there also said social media campaigns, such as #metoo have played a part in raising the profile of reporting sexual abuse or violence.

Helen Parr, director at the Colchester-based Cara, said: “We see the increased demand as a positive step showing that victims and survivors of sexual violence are feeling more confident in seeking support.

“They are starting to believe they can take action to address what has happened to them.

“But we are acutely aware a rise in demand requires a rise in funding.

“We want to encourage victims to come forward and seek support.

“Recent press coverage has helped to do that but there is much more that needs to be done to fully address the huge problem of sexual violence.

“Sexual violence has a devastating and often lifelong impact and victims need long-term, specialist support.

“The most important messages we want to get across to victims are to tell them that sexual violence is never the victim’s fault, that they are not alone and that Cara is there to help.”

Mrs Parr added 44 per cent of victims who are coming forward are reporting historic sexual abuse or violence.

She said: “These are people who were abused as children and they are only now having the courage to report it because they know they are going to be believed and there is going to be something done about it.

“We have been seeing that since the Jimmy Savile case really.

“People had bottled up an awful lot for a long time but suddenly people felt they would be believed.”

Although the centre helps people of all genders and ages, 90 per cent of new referrals are female.

Mrs Parr added often the victims who seek help from the centre have not, nor do they ever have the intention of, reporting their experience to the police.

Official Ministry of Justice statistics state between 80 and 85 per cent of sex abuse or violence still goes unreported.

The director added: “The rate of reporting is increasing and we are seeing a change, but the fact is the vast majority of crimes still go unreported to the police.”

For more information on Cara, go to caraessex.org.uk.