I met Jess through my dissertation being based on her work regarding victim blaming in sexual violence, and after I met her I knew I just wanted to spend more time with her because she had so many interesting things to say and I realized how important her work was. She is passionate about feminism, victim blaming, child sexual abuse, mental health and trauma, which makes her engaging when she speaks. I now keep in touch with her, mainly to pester her to take me to all her events she speaks at but equally because she is lovely to talk to; she is so down to earth. For example, since delving into the world of feminism I have realized it’s not easy when you are faced with people who don’t necessarily see the need for the movement and people are not receptive at all in many cases, and very rude- this can be really upsetting when you are so passionate about something and truly believe in it and she talks me through how to handle my rage, distress and disappointment when this happens.
When I shadowed Jess at a social work conference, there were around 200 people in attendance and I remember just looking around at everyone who was there and you could see everyone was fixated on every word Jess said. I could write pages and pages about how awesome I think this woman is and how important her work is! But to sum up, she is one of the most hardworking, dedicated and passionate people I have ever met and she has such important messages to spread about mental health and so much more. She will inspire a better generation of people alongside some of the other leading campaigners in her field, and I can’t wait to join the movement!
Emily Anne Thomas, Psychology Student, December 2017
I just watched (and shared!) your new film and want to thank you for vocalising so many frustrations. I deliver training, support and outreach work for the CSE team in XXX and drove home on Tuesday in tears after spending the day training a team of police officers. This was not the first time that this has happened after training police teams and I reached the point on Tuesday where I wrote a full and frank complaint outlining these frustrations and that I am reluctant to even attempt to train police again. The arrogance, language, victim blame and just utter contempt for children who were "vile", "placing themselves in risky situations", "choosing to spend time with risky people" and "knowing that if you put your hand in a flame you will get burned" (my personal favourite from an officer who told me she had had 15 years experience on the Child Protection team) was beyond comprehension at times. I want you to know that you are not alone and I am glad to hear that I am not alone and that there are many others out there who want to move forward and make changes. My experiences in my role have been devastating, disheartening, exhausting and upsetting and Tuesday was the lowest point I think. Thank you for your new film; it is going to help inform more of the training I do and one day we might get to the point where we don't have to argue with other professionals about the clothes a child was wearing, how 'mature' they are or whether or not they 'know the risks they are taking'.
Thanks to you, all of our CSE training is now 'CSE film-free' and we no longer promote the use of the films with children. Your platform has it's massive benefits and massive pitfalls so you will get some flack for being 'mouthy' ...but the evidence backs it up and this is what we are using to make changes behind the scenes. Working within organisations, charities and in partnership with police, etc... can be challenging as we have to maintain corporate image but with evidence and critical thinking we are starting to change things from the inside. Because of you, I have brought forward trauma informed interventions, victim blaming and the non-use of CSE films in our training and will continue to use evidence informed practice and promote it.
Your voice and work is important as we don't all have your platform but there are lots of us out in the field who agree, understand and are working for change. There are people out here who are using your evidence and the evidence of others to enforce change and unfortunately we just don't (or can't) shout as loud!
Keep at it and keep fighting x
Anonymous professional, UK, November 2017
Really enjoyed the debate and discussion format of the training. All participated and voiced their opinions which were broadly similar which was good to see as we have a strong child centred culture. Hugely informative and inspiring, Jessica has really made me want to study further.
Annie Westbrook, CEO of One to One Group, August 2017
My confidence has grown and I will therefore doubt myself less and have much more conviction. What will I change? EVERYTHING! I will look at the child and their strengths rather than focussing on the CSE. This week has been amazing! Jess is incredibly knowledgeable and confident in her area of expertise. Her style of training is engaging and ensures all participants remain focussed! Thank you!!
Carys Flain, Manager of One to One Group, August 2017
Jessica has an outstanding portfolio of achievements. She is dedicated, highly specialised and educated in the arena of victim blaming and sexual assault & violence. Jessica is a leading researcher and academic.
Catherine Knibbs, Child/Adult Trauma Therapist UKCP MBACP (Accred) CSA/CSE, CyberTrauma Researcher, Clinical Supervisor, Tutor/Consultant
Jessica is an inspirational colleague with a wealth of knowledge in areas of psychology, trauma, sexual violence and child sexual exploitation. Developing national training programmes as well as bespoke training, she empowers professionals to develop their practice. Jessica has the ability to transform academia into fascinating courses that are accessible and relevant to any professional. Her practical experience in the sector combined with her academic rigour and research makes her a powerful advocate for improving responses to child sexual exploitation and abuse . She is also a genuine pleasure to work with which is always a bonus!
Danielle McLeod, National Domestic Violence Consultant
Jessica is a knolwedgeable, passionate and committed professional. She has an objective and evidence based approach to her subject area. I would highly recommend her.
Yassir Mahmood, HR, OD, Change Specialist, Head of Workforce Development for Coventry City Council