What is an ISVA
Independent Sexual Violence Advisers are an important and often overlooked resource when supporting victims of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation. They are trained specialists who provide practical and emotional support and are independent from statutory agencies such as Police and Social Care. ISVAs are crucial in helping victims understand what their options are, their legal rights and what services are available to them. Victims of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation are entitled to an enhanced service from agencies within the Criminal Justice System (CJS) which includes the provision of an ISVA, should they wish to access one.
How can ISVAs help?
ISVAs provide support tailored to victims’ individual needs. The type of support available through an ISVA could include:
- Ensuring victims are aware of what their options are, including whether they want to make a formal complaint to the Police
- Explaining what services are available to them, including access to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), counselling and other therapies and health services
- Explaining the CJS including what agencies are involved and their roles, different processes and any outcomes or decisions made
- Supporting victims through the CJS, including pre, during and post-trial
- Providing practical support such as help with compensation claims, advocacy and liaison with agencies such as Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
- Help to appeal decisions and outcomes, including when CPS decide not to prosecute
- Providing emotional support
Why should ISVAs be used?
Research has shown that victims of sexual assault have identified wanting more flexible and practical forms of support highlighting the need for ongoing support, advocacy, information and pro-active communication. The provision of an ISVA service can help ensure that victims are given the best opportunity in order to move on positively with their lives. In addition to providing more positive outcomes for victims, the use of an ISVA can also increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for the CJS through improved and ongoing engagement with CJS agencies.
The ISVA service at Safe and Sound
The ISVA service we provide at Safe and Sound is available for young people up to the age of 18 who have been victims of child sexual exploitation, including both contact and non-contact abuse.
For information about other ISVA support services in Derby and Derbyshire, please see SV2 – Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence.
Who can refer?
Anyone can refer for ISVA support including victims of child sexual exploitation and violence, their parents or carers, statutory agencies and voluntary organisations. This is a voluntary service and therefore, it is up to the individual whether they choose to engage.
At what stage can I refer to an ISVA?
ISVA support should be considered at the earliest opportunity to ensure victims have enough support and information available to them to make informed decisions about what they feel is the right course of action. However, professionals can make referrals at any point following a disclosure, preferably with the individual’s consent or alternatively, victims or their parents or carers can self-refer at any time. Please contact us directly using the contact details below if you’re unsure about referring a young person.
How to refer
Victims, carers, parents and professionals can contact Safe and Sound by calling 01332 362120 or via email on [email protected].* Safe and Sound aim to make contact with the victim within 5 days of the referral being received.
*Please do not send confidential information of service users to these email addresses. Emails to be used for enquiries only.
Other useful links
For a list of current ISVAs working throughout the country please find info on The Survivor’s Trust website.