Sexual Violence Advisors are working with police to support victims of rape and sexual assault | Latest updates

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Film crew with Angela Hillery

Sexual Violence Advisors are working with police to support victims of rape and sexual assault

Nicky Mawer (left) and Maria Hutchinson (right)

Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) are using their expertise to help the police in Northamptonshire support victims of rape and sexual assault by providing emotional and practical support and information.

Detective Chief Inspector Nickie Deeks said: “Sexual violence is traumatic and can have a massive impact on the victim. Having the expertise of these skilled professionals working in partnership with us to help people through what can be a very distressing and frightening time, is hugely beneficial to both the victim and to the police.

“At a time of crisis, we know that it’s sometimes difficult for victims to share their experience and open up about what has happened to them. The ISVA provides support and a listening ear at an upsetting and stressful time.

“Our joint primary aim is to ensure the safety of the victim and to get access to any help and support they may need, at the earliest opportunity.”

The ISVA provision is independent of the police, their primary role is to support the victim. ISVAs provide confidential support and do not discuss details of cases with police officers, remaining independent through the whole process.

ISVAs are specially trained to deal with victims in crisis. As well as offering practical advice they also risk assess and provide personalised emotional support.  They can also help victims to better understand criminal justice proceedings, and support them through the process.

In Northamptonshire, ISVAs work from a number of bases including Serenity – the Sexual Assault Referral Centre, delivered by NHFT which is a discreet, confidential 24-hour support service.

They work with adults and children who have experienced sexual violence, to get them access to the services they need - whether the incident was recent or non-recent. You can also talk to an ISVA without talking to the police.

Fay Wickett, Service Manager at Serenity, a service delivered by Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: ”Having an ISVA based at Serenity has been hugely helpful for victims who come here. Their work is invaluable, and I’ve seen first-hand their skills, and the difference they can make.

“We see anyone in Northamptonshire who has been raped or sexually assaulted - people of all ethnicities and sexualities, men, women, young people, people who identify as non-binary, and children of all ages. The ISVAs who work with us are a key part of our team here, and we all share the same ethos – which is to make anyone who comes through our doors to feel as comfortable as possible, and to try to make things easier for them.“

Nicky at Northamptonshire Police took the time to speak to Fay and Maria from Serenity about the role of an ISVA

Charlotte Gunn, a Senior Service Delivery Manager for Voice, who commissions the ISVA service based at Serenity said: “ISVAs are trained and highly skilled, they are non-judgemental, empathetic and good listeners who recognise the complexity of emotions that individuals experience.

“Everyone is treated as an individual. Not all victims of sexual violence are the same, nor will any act of sexual violence affect two people in the same way. ISVAs recognise there is no wrong or right way to feel.

“We know that for some victims it will be hard for them to talk about what’s happened, particularly to a police officer. But our specialist advisors are really skilled communicators, and they also have significant knowledge of the support that’s available to help victims move forward.”

“The partnership approach we take with Northamptonshire Police means we can quickly provide help to a victim, so they have access to support from an ISVA at the earliest possible time.”

Serenity has a 24-hour support line - 01604 601713. Further information about the service can be found at www.nhft.nhs.uk/serenity

The helpline for Northamptonshire Rape Crisis is 0300 222 5930. Further information about the service can be found at www.northamptonshirerapecrisis.co.uk

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