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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-victims-of-sexual-violence-and-abuse/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-victims-of-sexual-violence-and-abuse
Measures announced over recent weeks to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19) have seen people’s day-to-day life be drastically altered. These changes are essential to beat coronavirus and protect our NHS staff.
The government acknowledges that recent measures announced to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19), such as the order to stay at home, can cause anxiety and other mental health challenges for those who have experienced sexual violence and abuse, and worsen the suffering of those who are currently experiencing or feel at risk of sexual violence and abuse. Sexual violence and abuse is unacceptable in any situation, no matter what stresses an individual is under.
For anyone who feels they are at risk of sexual violence or abuse, or is experiencing heightened mental health issues because of having previously survived sexual violence and abuse in the past, it is important to remember that there is help and support available to you. Support is also available to help perpetrators change their behaviour.
The government supports and funds a number of charities who are able to provide support and advice and we are in regular contact with the charity sector and the police to ensure that these support services remain open during this challenging time.
What is sexual violence and abuse?
Sexual violence and abuse can also include, but is not limited to:
- Child sexual abuse
- Sexual assault
- Sexual abuse (this includes being pressurised or coerced into sexual activity you do not want to do)
- Sexual exploitation
- Image-based sexual abuse (non-consensual creation and/or distribution of private, sexual images and videos)
- Grooming for sexual purposes
- Female genital mutilation
- Sexual harassment, both online and offline
Where to get help
If you have suffered sexual abuse or sexual violence at any time and wish to seek help now, the following services offer free, independent and confidential support. You do not have to make a report to the police to receive help. If you suspect that your neighbours or those in your community are victims of current sexual violence and abuse, we encourage you to report it to the police.
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police - the police will continue to respond to emergency calls
If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then press 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will assist you without you having to speak.
Victim Support operates a free and confidential 24/7 Supportline and live chat service, every day of the year - offering specialist support to anyone who has been a victim of crime or a witness. If you’d prefer to access i interactive self-support guides, visit My Support Space.
Telephone: 0808 16 89 111
Live chat: victimsupport.org.uk/live-chat
My Support Space: mysupportspace.org.uk/MoJ
More information can be found at www.victimsupport.org.uk
Rape Crisis helpline and live chat
The Rape Crisis National Helpline offers confidential emotional support, information and referral details.
Telephone: 0808 802 9999
Every day of the year, 12:00-14:30 and 19:00-21:30
More information including opening hours and access to our live chat service can be found online at www.rapecrisis.org.uk.
The Survivors Trust
The Survivors Trust provides confidential information, advice and support for women, men and young people, their parents/carers or partners via a helpline or email.
Telephone: 08088 010818
More information including opening hours can be found at www.thesurvivorstrust.org
National Male Survivor Helpline and Online Service
The National Male Survivor Helpline is a confidential helpline for male victims of sexual violence and abuse. They also provide emotional support via telephone, SMS (text), live chat and email.
Telephone: 0808 800 5005 Email: email@example.com Text: 07860 065187
Please access our live chat service via our website at https://www.safeline.org.uk/contact-us/
Now open 7 days a week. For more information, including specific opening hours, visit www.safeline.org.uk
Galop - for members of the LGBT+ community
If you are a member of the LGBT+ community and experienced sexual assault, abuse, or violence, Galop runs a specialist helpline.
Telephone: 0800 999 5428
More information including opening hours can be found at Galop.
NAPAC (National Association for People Abused in Childhood)
NAPAC offers support to adult survivors of all types of childhood abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect. Information including opening hours can be found on NAPAC’s website which offers a large range of resources for survivors, as well as those who care for and work with them. NAPAC also offer a support email service for those who feel more comfortable seeking support in writing.
Private and confidential helpline: 0808 801 0331
Sexual Assault Referral Centres
Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) are specialist medical and forensic services providing free of charge, non-judgmental advice and support for anyone (women, men, young people and children) who has been raped or sexually assaulted.
SARCs are comfortable environments, providing a safe and private space for interviews and forensic examinations, and some may also offer sexual health and counselling services. Specialist staff are trained to help regardless of when or where the incident happened and will help the victim/ survivor make informed decisions about what they want to do next.
SARCs remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, with services provided in person or remotely (over the phone or via video conference) depending on a person’s needs. To find a SARC near you please visit the NHS website.
Support if you are worried about hurting someone
If you have concerns that you may commit sexual abuse or sexual violence yourself or are concerned about another person’s behaviour, or a child’s behaviour, you can contact the Stop It Now helpline.
Telephone: 0808 1000 900
More information including opening hours can be found online at Stop It Now.
If you are worried about domestic abuse and hurting the ones you love while staying at home, call the Respect Phoneline for support and help to manage your behaviour.
Telephone: 0808 8024040
More information including opening hours can be found online at Respect Phoneline.