Many Rape Crisis member Centres are able to provide specialist advocacy services to survivors of sexual violence. The specially trained workers who deliver this service are sometimes referred to as ISVAs, which stands for Independent Sexual Violence Advisors or Advocates.
Sometimes there is a lower age limit for these services. Some Rape Crisis Centres only offer ISVA services to survivors aged 18+, for example. Some other Rape Crisis Centres provide a specialist children's advocacy service, and workers who deliver these services are sometimes referred to as CHISVAs.
A Rape Crisis advocacy worker's or ISVA's main role is to provide practical and emotional support and information to survivors who have reported to the police or are considering reporting to the police.
If you do choose to report, your Rape Crisis ISVA will work with other partners and agencies to try and keep you informed throughout the criminal justice process, supporting you to have your voice heard, helping you feel empowered to make the choices that feel right to you, and accompanying you to important appointments and court if that's what you want. An ISVA can support you with your next steps after the legal process is over, regardless of the outcome of your case, and will be there for you even if you choose to withdraw from the criminal justice process at any point.
You do not have to have reported to the police in order to access a Rape Crisis specialist advocacy service either. If you are at the point of considering your options and want more information, an ISVA might be able to help you. A Rape Crisis advocate can also support you with other practical issues that might have arisen as a result of the sexual violence you've experienced. For example, you might want support accessing statutory services like housing, education or health.
Like all Rape Crisis workers, a Rape Crisis advocate or (CH)ISVA will listen to and believe you and will not put pressure on you to make any decisions or take any action you're not comfortable with.
To find out about the specific services your nearest Rape Crisis Centre(s) offer, explore our membership directory by clicking here or on the orange button to the right of this page.
There are also many ISVAs based in organisations other than our Rape Crisis member Centres. You can find a list of these at The Survivors Trust website.