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Is vengeful rapist to blame for vandalism?

PUBLISHED: 10:09 20 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:59 23 August 2010

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THE director of a charity that supports victims of child abuse and rape fears its headquarters is being targeted by an angry rapist or abuser. Family Matters, based in Wrotham Road, Gravesend, has been hit by vandals twice in a month. In the latest inci

THE director of a charity that supports victims of child abuse and rape fears its headquarters is being targeted by an angry rapist or abuser.

Family Matters, based in Wrotham Road, Gravesend, has been hit by vandals twice in a month.

In the latest incident on Friday, the head of a statue outside the building was broken off, following a previous attack when double-glazed windows were damaged.

Operations director Malcolm Gilbert said the acts of vandalism were "extremely worrying" as the charity, launched almost 20 years ago, had never been targeted before.

He said: "This is the second time in a month we have been attacked. We have been here since 1990 and this has never happened before. So why now?

"At first we thought it was simple vandalism but now we're wondering if we have being singled out by an angry abuser or rapist for supporting their victim.

"When you think about the perpetrators of these sick crimes you can understand this could be a malicious and nasty attack directed at the charity. People who abuse and rape are vicious and nasty and can get very angry if their victims are supported to stop the abuse or bring a case to court.

"If it's just vandalism it is a particularly callous attack, indicating the indifference of people to the plight of our many service users."

He added: "The first could have just been a one-off, twice in a month has caused great concern. If this was to happen again you would have to start thinking this is a trend. It has made us feel very vulnerable and insecure."

The statue, called It's a Crying Shame, was unveiled in June last year to represent the thousands of victims across north Kent, south London and Surrey the charity helps.

Almost a month earlier, two holes were shot in double-glazing windows. Mr Gilbert said they first appeared as "bullet holes" but on closer inspection seemed to have been caused by a catapult. He added: "We are now considering security measures such as additional CCTV if this continues but we really don't want to do this. It would mean diverting money from our real job, helping victims of abuse."

Clinical director Mary Trevillion said: "If the attack is just vandalism then it is no more than an unnecessary expense to the charity to get repairs made, money which would be better used in helping survivors. If it's deliberate targeting by a disgruntled abuser, then I can tell them such actions will not silence us or their victims."

Family Matters is the UK's largest provider of specialist therapy and support of its kind. Last year it helped 650 people in 15 boroughs across three counties.

If you are a victim of abuse, call the charity hotline on 01474 537392. It accepts donations. Write or visit the head office at 13 Wrotham Road, Gravesend, Kent DA11 0PA, or call 01474 536661.

If you have information on the vandalism, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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