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About the helpline

Our helpline is a free, confidential emotional support service for anyone aged 16 and over who has experienced any form of sexual violence or abuse.

Call 0808 802 9999 or chat to us online.

About the helpline

This is not an emergency or crisis service. If you are in immediate danger or need urgent medical attention, please call 999.


Who can access the helpline?

Our helpline is for anybody aged 16 or over who has been affected by rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault, or any other type of sexual violence.

It doesn’t matter whether it happened recently or a long time ago, we are here for you.

It also doesn’t matter if you have or haven’t told the police about what happened.

We can also give information and support to friends and family, as well as professionals supporting victims and survivors.

ℹ If you are a researcher, journalist, or student, please look at our information pages or email Rape Crisis England & Wales instead.

What will happen during a call or chat?

During a call or a chat, we are here to listen and support you.

You don’t need to tell us anything that you’re not comfortable sharing. But if you do want to talk about what happened, we will always listen and never judge.

We won’t tell you what to do or give you advice. Instead, we’ll tell you what options are available, and help you think about what you’d like to do next (if anything). It’s also fine if you aren’t sure or if you just want to talk.

You can take the conversation at your pace, and you can end the call or chat at any time.

Is it a private conversation?

The Helpline is an anonymous and confidential service.

This means that we do not take any contact details before you start a call or a chat. We also do not share any of your information with anyone else, except in rare circumstances where a child or vulnerable adult may be at risk of serious harm.

📞 If you speak on the phone, the other person won’t be able to see your phone number.

💬 If you contact us by webchat, the other person will be able to see your IP address [link].

We have more information about privacy and confidentiality below.

Find out more


How long do we have to talk?

You will have:

  • Up to 40 minutes to talk on the phone.
  • Up to 45 minutes to chat online.

How often can I access the helpline?

It’s fine if you’d like to use the helpline more than once.

But we ask that you don’t contact us more than once a day, unless you become disconnected during your call or chat.

You should only chat with one person at a time.

Will I always speak to the same person?

When you call or start a chat, you will be connected to one of our trained operators that is available to talk.

If you visit again and start a new call or chat, you may speak to a different person. And, whoever you speak to won’t have a record of what you talked about in your previous call or chat.

If you want free ongoing support from a named person, we will be able to give you details of your local specialist service who may be able to help.

What can I do if the helpline is busy?

At times, we may receive more calls or chats than we have operators available to answer. This might mean that you are unable to chat to someone straight away.

If this happens, please be patient and try again.

Is the helpline a referral line?

We don’t ask for contact details during a call. This means we can’t directly send your details (refer you) to another service.

We can give you information on how to contact services near you so you can get in touch yourself, if that is something you want to do.

For professionals, we can also provide information about support services but we do not make direct referrals.

Telling us what you think

📞 If you have contacted us by phone, we may ask you at the end of the call if you would like to give anonymous feedback. This is optional, and you can share as much or as little feedback as you wish.

💬 If you have contacted us by webchat, we will give you the opportunity to leave anonymous feedback at the end of the chat. This is optional, and you can share as much or as little feedback as you wish.

Complaints

If you would like to make a complaint about the helpline, please visit our complaints page.

If you make a complaint, we will need to collect some personal data (for example, your name and email address). This will only be used to let us respond to your complaint and we won’t use it for anything else.

Privacy and confidentiality

The Helpline is an anonymous service. This means that you do not need to give us your name, location or contact details to start a call or chat.

We won’t share your information or what you tell us with anyone else, except for in the rare event that we believe a child or vulnerable adult is at risk of serious or immediate harm, or if we are instructed to by a court of law.

We have more information about how we use, store and share anything you tell us during a call or chat below.

Phone

Can you see who I am?

During a call, the person you speak to won’t be able to see your phone number.

In the rare event that we believe a child or vulnerable adult is at risk of serious or immediate harm, or if we are instructed to by a court of law, we may be able to retrieve your phone number from our phone provider.

Are calls recorded?

We never record calls.

However, sometimes another person from the service might listen in to your call while it happens. We will only do this for training purposes or to help us make sure we are delivering a good service.

We also keep some information about what happened during the call. This includes the type of support provided and how long the call lasted for. This information will not identify you personally, and is only collected for monitoring and reporting purposes.

At the end of a call

At the end of each session, you may be asked to provide basic information, such as your age, gender and ethnicity.

This anonymous information is requested for monitoring and reporting purposes, and you do not have to provide it if you do not want to.

You can also tell us what you think about the service. We will use this to make sure we are delivering a good quality service.

Webchat

Can you see who I am?

During a chat, the person you speak to can see the IP address of the device you are using.

An IP address is a number that can be used to identify a device – for example, to locate your computer or phone.

Are chats recorded?

What you discuss during a webchat session is captured as a written record (a ‘chat transcript’).

We occasionally review these chat transcripts. We will only do this to enable us to manage and monitor the service - for example, to help us make sure we are delivering a good service, or when we need to respond to complaints.

We do not store chat transcripts on an ongoing basis. We either delete them soon after your chat has ended or within 28 days if there are any issues that need to be resolved.

We also record some information about what happened during the chat. This includes the type of support provided and how long the chat lasted for. This information will not identify you personally, and is only collected for monitoring and reporting purposes.

At the end of a chat

At the end of each session, you will be asked to provide basic information, such as your age, gender and ethnicity.

This anonymous information is requested for monitoring and reporting purposes, and you do not have to provide it if you do not want to. If you do provide this information, we will use it to help us make sure we are meeting the needs of all victims and survivors.

You can also tell us what you think about the service. We will use this to make sure we are delivering a good quality service, and to make sure that the helpline and other Rape Crisis services are meeting your needs.

Sharing information with other agencies

Most of the time, whatever you tell us will stay confidential. This means we don’t share it with anyone outside of the helpline service.

However, we may need to share information with other agencies or organisations if we believe a child or vulnerable adult is at risk of serious or immediate harm, or if we are instructed to by a court of law.

If this is the case, we will always try to get your permission to share this information.

We can only help in these situations if we have information that identifies you. Even if you do not give us this information during a call or chat, we may have access to your device’s IP address or your phone number.

Breaking confidentiality without consent

In extremely rare cases, the we may need to share personal information without getting your consent. This could be in situations where:

  • You share information that identifies a child or vulnerable adult who is at risk of serious harm.
  • You appear to be unable to give consent or become unconscious during the chat.
  • You threaten the safety of our staff, or make specific threats of harm towards anyone else.
  • There is a legal requirement to provide information following receipt of a court order that requires us to share information.
  • We receive information about an imminent act of terrorism or similar risk to life.

Even if you do not give us your name, contact details or location during the chat, we may have access to your device’s IP address or your phone number.

Thinking about getting in touch?

We know that getting in touch for the first time can feel like a very big step - but we are here for you.

Whether you contact our helpline or one of our member Rape Crisis Centres, we will always listen to you, believe you and support you.

Find out more
woman on phone