Whether you have chosen to contact a SARC , report to the police, or not, everyone is able to access support from an ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Advocate). The role of the ISVA is to provide ongoing support for any client who has experinced sexual assault or abuse. This may include support with any pending or potential court cases. This support includes liaising with others on your behalf and keeping you regularly updated of any developments. This can include speaking to the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, health professionals, housing associations, employers etc. The aim of doing this is to take as much pressure as possible off a client’s shoulders and enable them to concentrate on feeling better. You will be contacted by an ISVA within five days of us receiving your referral. However, if you would prefer to contact us prior to this you are welcome to do so.
Even if you have not attended a SARC, or you do not wish to report what has happended to you to the police, you are still able to access support from our ISVAs. Our ISVAs are entirely independent of any other organisation or agency, including the police and other criminal justice agencies, and will work with you to determine your support needs. Your ISVA will encourage you to identify any ongoing needs and to develop a support plan which helps to meet these needs. All clients will receive the same level of support, however they choose to proceed.
ISVAs are able to accompany you to appointments, if you wish, and will offer support to you during any court case. If there is a court case they will also arrange a pre-court visit so that you are able to have a look at the court room before the case and get an understanding of what will happen and where you will have to sit to give evidence etc. Clients find that this helps them to reduce their anxiety prior to the court hearing.
Our ISVAs are not counsellors. However, they are highly competent and skilled support workers. All of our ISVAs complete specialist training and ongoing professional development. Evidence of ISVA qualifications is displayed in each of our premises. ISVAs are able to talk to you about your emotional wellbeing, provide you with positive coping strategies and allow you a safe and confidential space where you can talk about how you are feeling. Support is provided either face to face or by telephone (or usually both) and it will be at a level and frequency that is appropriate for your needs. ISVAs are flexible and the nature and frequency of support may change throughout the time you are receiving support in response to your changing requirements.
Copies of all of our ISVA policies and procedures are available in each of our premises. If you would like to see them please speak to your ISVA or email us on email@example.com.
Once the court case has ended, regardless of the outcome, or if the Crown Prosecution Service decides that there is insufficient evidence to proceed to court you will be offered the opportunity to speak to one of our counsellors. Quite often clients find that the support they have received from the ISVA is sufficient and they decline this offer. However we know that some clients suffer high levels of trauma as a result of their experiences and require ongoing specialist counselling. If you are interested in finding out more about our counselling please click here. If you have not been involved with the crown prosecution service your ISVA will talk to you about whether counselling may be beneficial and, if appopriate, will be able to make the referral for you.
We value feedback from all of our clients, whatever their age, and throughout the time they are receiving support from us. Even if you decide that you do not want any further support from us, we value your feedback. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us in one of our offices and ask to speak to a manager.
We also encourage our clients to participate in our client focus groups. These are opportunities to help to refine and develop our services for clients in the future. Your ISVA will talk to you about our client groups but if this is something you are particularly interested in please ask us.