National Hate Crime Awareness Week runs from 10-17 October 2015. To mark the start of the campaign, Victim Support shines a light on hate crime and the support available for victims.

Hate crime can take many forms, such as assault, harassment or abuse, but all incidents share one thing in common – victims are targeted for simply being who they are. Tragically, people can be targeted because of hostility or prejudice towards their race, sexuality, religion, disability or transgender identity, amongst other examples.

As a charity that supports thousands of victims of hate crime every year, we know that these offences can have a devastating and long-lasting effect on victims, especially if they have suffered repeated attacks or abuse. Hate crime often impacts on a victim’s self-esteem as well as their physical and mental wellbeing, and victims can be unsure or scared about telling anyone, or seeking the support they deserve.

At Victim Support, we are here to help all those that have been affected by hate crime, whether victims have reported the crime to the police or not, and we are on hand to help immediately after the incident, or at any time afterwards. Our staff and volunteers can offer information, practical help and emotional support, so no one needs to suffer in silence.

Our specially-trained hate crime volunteers offer support tailored to the individual needs of victims of hate crime and the list of services we can offer is far-reaching. For example, we can help people cope with the emotional effects of hate crime, deal with employers, police and housing departments on a victim’s behalf, advise on home security and safety, organise practical help after a break-in at victims’ homes (such as repairs to broken locks), inform victims about police and court procedures, escort victims to the police station and to court, and simply be a shoulder to cry on.

Someone who has used these services is Issy, a former nurse from Bewdley, Worcestershire. Issy was beaten up by her neighbour in 2013 and suffered whiplash as a result, for simply being lesbian. While Issy lay helpless on the floor, her neighbour screamed a torrent of abuse at her and branded Issy a “queer”. The attack left Issy and her partner feeling petrified in their own building.

“We tried to avoid my neighbour at all costs and instead of using the front door of our building, we would go out on the patio, walk down an embankment and round to the front, which was hard for me.”

Issy and her partner moved to a different address but unfortunately they were targeted again. Not only was her partner called “scum” while walking down the street, but a brick was thrown though their window and a neighbour even assaulted Issy, hurting her hand in the process which required hospital treatment.

After the couple reported these incidents to the police, Victim Support got in touch and provided emotional support through face to face visits and checked in with them regularly by phone. We also helped Issy get rehoused by writing letters to the local housing association to back up her application to move, detailing the trauma she had been through and the risk to the couple’s safety at their flat. Thanks to Victim Support, the couple now live in a home where they feel comfortable and safe.

“It was Victim Support that kept me sane by being there for us and helping. I don’t have family down here, so I think we would have cracked up if it hadn’t been for Victim Support. I get flashbacks about what we have been through but thanks to Victim Support, me and my wifey are moving on from what has happened to us.”

Over the past year, we have offered support to over 18,750 victims of hate crime. If you have been a victim of hate crime and need confidential advice or support, find out how to contact Victim Support now.

Hate Crime Awareness Week runs from 10-17 October 2015. You can help raise awareness of hate crime by joining the conversation on social media using the hashtags #NHCAW and #WeStandTogether.