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Live Chat Helpline

Our one-to-one Live Chat Helpline is a free, confidential emotional support service for women and girls aged 16 and over who have experienced any form of sexual violence or abuse.

About the Live Chat Helpline

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

The Live Chat Helpline is a text-based chat service that you can access through the Rape Crisis England & Wales website. You can have up to 45 minutes to chat with one of our specialist operators.

When is the Live Chat Helpline open?

The Live Chat Helpline is open during the following times:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 2pm-4.30pm, 6pm-8.30pm
  • Friday: 2pm-4.30pm

What will happen during a session?

Our operators are here to listen and offer you emotional support. You can talk about what happened to you, how you feel and any difficulties you are facing.

Our operators can also give you information and let you know about different services.

You can always take the chat at your pace. You don’t need to tell us anything that you’re not comfortable sharing. You can end the chat at any time.

We won’t tell you what to do or give advice. Instead, we can let you know about what options are available and help you think about what you want to do next. It’s also fine if you aren’t sure or if you just want to talk.

As it’s an anonymous service, we can’t refer you to a Rape Crisis centre. Instead, if you think you might want to get ongoing support, you can contact them directly. Find your local Rape Crisis centre

We know that lots of people find the idea of contacting us daunting. But our operators are trained to support you and will never blame or judge you. It doesn’t matter whether it happened recently or a long time ago, we are here for you.

Who can access the Live Chat Helpline?

Our Live Chat Helpline is for women and girls aged 16 and over whose lives have been affected by rape, sexual abuse or any type of sexual violence. 

The Live Chat Helpline is not available for men and boys, or children under 16. If you do not meet our criteria, you may be able to get more information or support by visiting:

Support for men and boys

Support for children and young people

Support for survivors living outside of England

Supporting a survivor

If you are a professional, researcher, journalist or student, please look at our information pages or contact us.

How long do we have to chat?

You have up to 45 minutes to chat.

You may have less time if the session or the operator’s shift is ending soon.

Is it a private conversation?

The Live Chat Helpline is an anonymous and confidential service. This means that we do not take any contact details before you start 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.

We have more information about privacy and confidentiality when using the Live Chat Helpline.

Privacy and confidentiality

How often can I access the Live Chat Helpline?

It’s fine if you’d like to use the Live Chat Helpline more than once.

But we ask that you don’t have more than one chat during each session (we run two Live Chat Helpline sessions per day, Monday to Thursday, and one session every Friday).

Unless you become disconnected during your conversation, we ask that you do not access the helpline again during the session to give as many survivors as possible the opportunity to chat.

We don’t keep a record of who you are or what you talk about during a chat. So, if you visit the Live Chat Helpline again, the person you speak to won’t have a record of what you talked about in your previous chat.

If you want free ongoing support or counselling, you can contact your local Rape Crisis centre.

You should only chat with one operator at a time.

Who will I chat with?

All our operators are women from our network of member Rape Crisis centres.

They have training and experience in providing emotional support to people who have been affected by sexual violence.

Will I always speak to the same person?

We have a team of trained operators who provide support on the Live Chat Helpline.

During a Live Chat Helpline session, you will chat one-to-one with one of these operators.

Our operators do not give their name during a chat.

If you visit again after your session is finished, you may speak to a different person who will not have access to any details of your previous chat.

What can I do if the Helpline is busy?

We regularly face very high demand on our Live Chat Helpline. As our operators only chat to one survivor at a time, and chats may last up to 45 minutes, you may sometimes find that you are unable to chat with an operator straight away.

Please be patient and try again.

Is the Live Chat Helpline a referral line?

The Live Chat Helpline can provide one-off sessions of emotional support. Operators can provide you with information on how to contact our member Rape Crisis centres, but they will not be able to make referrals to them or other services.

Prank and abusive users

If an operator believes that she is dealing with a prank or abusive user, she has the right to end the chat.

Telling us what you think

When your Live Chat session has ended, you will be given the opportunity to leave feedback about your experience of the service.

We hope that you can take a few moments to do this as it helps us to ensure that we are offering a service that best fits the needs of survivors. You can share as much or as little feedback as you wish.

Complaints

If you would like to make a complaint about the Live Chat 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

Your personal details

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

During a chat, we do have access to 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 the chats recorded?

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

We occasionally review these chat transcripts. This will only happen as part of checking the quality of the service being delivered, including as part of responding to any complaints we receive.

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

Operators 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.

You can also tell us what you think about the service. We will use this to make sure we are delivery a good quality service, and to make sure that the Live Chat 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.

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. If this happens, we may ask you for your name, contact details or location. Even if you do not give us this information during the chat, we do have access to your device’s IP address.

Breaking confidentiality without consent

In extremely rare cases, the Live Chat Helpline 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 Live Chat operators or other Rape Crisis 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 do have access to your device’s IP address.