This is Tayo, and she is a BAME ISVA at Yellow Door!
What does BAME mean?
To better explain what “BAME” means, it would be nice to delve a little into how why the acronym has been widely adopted. Previously, many adjectives and acronyms were adopted to classify people of colour and minority ethnic communities; some were positive, while others were quite the opposite. From “people of colour”, “Black”, “Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Groups” to the current “BAME” acronym, meaning “Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic Groups” the list goes on.
Recently, the BAME acronym has been adopted by many to represent the Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Communities. The usage has been and is still much debated within the community. However, for the moment, we’ll use the acronym BAME to represent the Black community.
What is an ISVA?
ISVAs are Independent Sexual Violence Advisors. They are specialist advisors who provide emotional and practical support to people who have experienced any unwanted sexual experience regardless of age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or when it happened.
ISVAs provide independent advice and support to help people make informed choices about their next steps. Including reporting to the Police (or not), pursuing investigations (or not), and practical and emotional support throughout the Criminal Justice process. ISVAs also educate clients about their health care options, liaise with other agencies, and signpost clients to other services.
The ISVA service within Yellow Door works closely with the Police, the Criminal Justice System, and other services to provide emotional and practical support.
Why is a specialist BAME ISVA needed?
The BAME ISVA Service within Yellow Door is tailored to the needs of the BAME community. This begs the question of why a specialist service is dedicated to a specific community. Research has shown that the needs and circumstances of the BAME community are often slightly different from other communities. A research paper which looks at the role of psychologists in providing support in rape cases states that BAME people who have been impacted by rape “are less likely to see their case lead to prosecution or convictions.” At Yellow Door, our ISVA service are here to listen to these concerns and support clients within the Criminal Justice System.
Some internal and external factors are instrumental to underreporting sexual violence within the BAME community. Internal factors impeding reporting include religion, the fear of being ostracised from the community, or the pressure to keep or protect the honour of the family.
External factors affecting reporting include lack of awareness of services, immigration status, distrust in services and systems based on past experiences, and the speed of the justice system are some of the barriers to reporting within this community. We wanted to raise awareness of this important role at Yellow Door, especially during Black History Month.
Why are BAME roles important?
To address under-reporting and similar challenges it is important to establish BAME-focussed roles, like the role at Yellow Door. These specialist roles are critical to understanding and addressing cultural, social, and emotional needs of BAME community members.
BAME specialists may also speak the same language, breaking the language barriers which some BAME group members face. There has also been a lack of policy to support BAME victims, despite there being evidence that BAME women and Refugees are being let down by the CPS (Thiara & Roy, 2020)
BAME specialists also help raise awareness within their own communities. This enables more people from that community to access BAME specialist services. Through their cultural awareness, they can dispel fears and earn the trust of community members, which can increase access to specialist resources.
Why do you enjoy your job as a BAME ISVA?
I am passionate about helping people, and working as a BAME ISVA has allowed me to support vulnerable people from marginalised communities. I enjoy my role as I am present to hold client’s hands throughout the whole process. The most satisfying part of the role is observing the transition from the traumatised client to the empowered client.
What I enjoy most about my job as a BAME ISVA is that it is supportive, collaborative, and challenging at the same time as no two days are the same. I also get to work with a supportive team, a win-win situation for me.