Community Action Network (CAN) has chosen Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service (STARS) as its Community Hero in the Spotlight for February, to mark the importance of raising awareness of sexual violence which is, for many, a difficult subject to talk or even think about.

STARS offers one-to-one support, free of charge, to anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse and lives in Dorset. The charity provides several different types of support including an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor Service, Counselling, a Children and Young People’s Service and Support Line.

In 2021, STARS supported over 2000 people across the county through its vital services.

A beneficiary said: “Words cannot express how amazing you are and how thankful I am for all of your support. I honestly believe if it wasn’t for you, I would never have got to this point.”

Another sexual abuse survivor revealed that STARS “never puts any pressure on you like others do, they made me feel like I had a voice when I was at my lowest.”

The amazing work the charity does has caught the attention of actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, who became the first STARS Dorset Patron; she said: “I have seen for myself the huge amounts of women, men and children that you help every single day and am so proud to be a small part of the work that you do by calling myself your Patron.”

STARS-Dorset works with well-trained counsellors who help clients through psycho-education to understand the impact of their trauma on their brain and body, giving them control and choice.

This week, STARS is proudly launching its merchandise collection around the theme of ‘consent’ hoping that the designs will provoke conversation and help raise important funds for the charity and those it supports.

Kate McMullen, Arts University Bournemouth student, who created some of the visuals said about her work: “I decided to include nudity from classical art as it tows an interesting line between obscene and academically accepted. The writing is an empowering message about knowing you are beautiful and setting your own boundaries. Just because a body is beautiful it does not mean anybody has the right to touch it.”

All the merchandise are available to view and buy now, please follow the link: