Sexual assault, sexual harassment or gender discrimination can be difficult to navigate.
Saver Waves was set up in 2019 to provide support to merchant seafarers who have experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment or gender discrimination on board. These experiences can be hard to navigate, even within the supportive environment provided by existing seafarer welfare and support organizations.
New in 2021, Safer Waves created an anonymous email service for emotional support. Below, the Safer Waves’ team answered some questions about the email service, explaining who it is for and what to expect.
Q: Who is the email support service for?
Safer Waves: “The service is available to anyone who has experienced sexual harassment, gender discrimination or sexual assault while working at sea on merchant vessels. It is available to all seafarers regardless of nationality, gender or job role. You can contact us if your experience happened many years ago, or is happening right now.”
Q: Who will answer my email?
Safer Waves: “We have a team of volunteers from the UK who answer emails. Our volunteers come from a variety of professional backgrounds and have a wide range of experience between them.”
Q: What training have they had?
Safer Waves: “Our volunteers have had training in understanding the maritime industry, suicide prevention, and sexual violence.”
Q: When can I expect a reply?
Safer Waves: “We aim to answer emails within 3 working days.”
Q: How anonymous is the service?
Safer Waves: “Our service uses a software that anonymizes incoming emails and assigns each email address a unique number. Your email address will not be available to the volunteers. However, your email address will exist in our handling system. Your address will be stored for 5 days on an account that can only be accessed by senior management. Rest assured that we will only access this information if we have serious concerns about your safety. If you are concerned about your email address being available in this way, you can set up an anonymous email address using a service such as Proton Mail, Yahoo or Hotmail, and use this to contact us. We recommend that you do not use work email addresses to access this service, as they can often automatically send identifying information in the form of a signature, corporate branding etc.”
Q: Can you trace service users?
Safer Waves: “The only information we will hold about you is your email address, so we will not be able to trace you unless you provide us with identifying information such as your address, or the name of your ship. If these details are provided and we have serious concerns about your safety or the safety of a child, we are obliged to take further action. Please see our Confidentiality Policy and our Safeguarding Policies on our website for more details.”
Q: What can I expect from this service?
Safer Waves: “This service provides a listening ear and emotional support. If you have experienced sexual harassment, discrimination based on your gender, or sexual assault while working in the maritime industry, you can share that with us. In providing emotional support we aim to help service users gain a fresh perspective on what they have experienced, with the ultimate goal of reducing trauma, reducing feelings of isolation and aiding the healing process. Due to the anonymous nature of the service, this is not a counselling service. We are also unable to provide medical or legal advice but we can signpost to resources and organisations that may be able to assist you with this.”
The Women Offshore Foundation is an online organization and resource center for a diverse workforce on the water. Its mission is to propel women into meaningful careers through access to a worldwide community and professional development resources, while raising awareness amongst industry leaders and decision makers about issues affecting women on the water. Contact Women Offshore today: firstname.lastname@example.org.