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I am a survivor or victim of abuse: Where can I access support?
If you have experienced abuse, however recently or long ago, there are a range of organisations who will listen to you and offer you support.
A range of such contacts are listed below.
Whether you feel able to report the abuse or would rather access support and talk through the options first, we encourage you to speak with someone. That could be someone you already know, your ministry team if you are part of a church, or a person at one of the organisations listed below.
If you are still unsure you are welcome to contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Team for advice. We do not have facilities for text communication but can receive emails at firstname.lastname@example.org
Safe Spaces is a free and independent support service, providing a confidential, personal and safe space for anyone who has been abused through their relationship with either the Church of England or the Catholic Church of England and Wales.
Safe Spaces comprises a team of trained support advocates who have undergone specialist training in supporting survivors of sexual violence and who have received additional specific training in how the churches respond to abuse cases, the way in which faith and church-related settings have been used to carry out abuse, and the particular issues affecting people who have had or still have, a relationship with the church.
- Phone us on 0300 303 1056 (a voicemail facility is available outside of opening times)
- Email us at email@example.com
- LiveChat with our team, or access service information, at www.SafeSpacesEnglandandWales.org.uk
First Light have provided posters and tear off sheet posters for parishes to access, print and display:
- The Safe Spaces for women poster can be accessed here.
- The Safe Spaces for men poster can be accessed here.
- The Safe Spaces QR poster can be accessed here.
Contacting the police
You can make a report to the police about abuse that you have experienced, we would especially encourage you to do this if there is any possibility that the person who harmed you may still be in a position to harm others. Police are contactable nationwide on telephone: 101 or in an emergency 999.
Each police force area has a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). These centres provide advice and support to anyone that has experience sexual assault or rape no matter how recently it happened, no matter what age you are and no matter what your gender. Most centres will enable you to speak confidentially about what happened and can provide support with reporting the event to police and with accessing counselling or other forms of support.
Local Sexual Assault Referral Centres
Bristol: Sexual Violence Survivors Pathway: http://www.survivorpathway.org.uk/bristol/
South Gloucestershire: Sexual Violence Survivors Pathway: http://www.survivorpathway.org.uk/south-gloucestershire/
Swindon & Wiltshire: Swindon Sanctuary 0808 168 0024 (24 Hour)
Support and advice about domestic abuse is available from a variety of organisations. Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVA’s) are people employed by a variety of organisations who are specialists that can help you to manage risk, decide what to do next and support you to access other forms of support.
- National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247 (24 Hour)
- Next Link www.nextlinkhousing.co.uk 0117 925 0680
- Nextlink https://www.nextlinkhousing.co.uk/southglos/ 0800 4700 280
- Women's Aid http://www.swindonwomensaid.org/ 01793 610610 (24 hours)
- Splitz www.splitz.org 01225 775276
You may wish to make contact with an organisation to share your experience, receive peer support or to talk about other types of support that are available. Some support groups are listed below.
- NAPAC – National Association for People Abused in Childhood www.napac.org.uk - Provide support to adults who have been abused in any way as children. Contactable on 0808 801 0331 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rape Crisis England & Wales www.rapecrisis.org.uk - Provide support to women and girls who have experienced sexual trauma. Contactable on 0808 802 9999 12am-2.30pm & 7pm-9.30pm
- The Survivors Trust www.thesurvivorstrust.org - Provide support to men who have experienced sexual abuse, adult sexual assault or rape. Contactable on 01788 550554 or email@example.com
- MACSAS – Minister & Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors www.macsas.org.uk - Provide support to both women and men who have been sexually abused, as children or adults, by ministers, clergy or others under the guise of the Church. Contactable on 08088 010340 Weds 7pm-9.30pm & Saturday 9am-11am
- The Lantern Project www.lanternproject.org.uk - Provide help and support for survivors of sexual abuse.
- MOSAC www.mosac.org.uk - Provide support for all non-abusing parents and carers whose children have been sexually abused. 0800 980 1958.
- Samaritans Helpline: 08457 90 90 90 (open 24 hours). Phone if you feel you are struggling to cope and need someone to talk to.
The above list is not exhaustive. If you would like to access support or advice but do not see an organisation listed that you feel could be right for you, please do get in touch with the Diocesan Safeguarding Team, who will aim to find you a contact that provides what you are looking for.
Understandably, many people find it difficult to tell anyone about the abuse they have suffered. It may be many years after the event before a disclosure is made, perhaps when the victim and/or survivor is an adult.
Even if the abuse occurred many years ago, the Church will still act. Tell someone about the abuse. You will be listened to and what you have to say will be taken seriously.
Whether you feel able to report the abuse or would rather access support and talk through the options first, we encourage you to speak with someone. You can choose who to talk with. That could be someone you already know, your ministry team if you are part of a church, or a person at one of the organisations listed above.
If you are still unsure you are welcome to contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Caseworker for advice.
It is the policy of the Church of England to inform statutory authorities (Police and Local Authority Social Services) that abuse has been alleged, if there is a risk that others may continue to be at risk of abuse and to make sure that past abuse is properly dealt with. We recognise that this may be difficult for survivors and victims of abuse and will do what we can to support you. However, we have a duty to ensure that we do all we can to prevent abuse from happening again and we need to work alongside statutory agencies to achieve this.