The Archers: Helen’s story – Taking an abuse case to court
After last night’s dramatic episode where Kaz revealed to Helen that her partner abused her leaving her feeling powerless and afraid for her girls what can she do next? What help is there out there for her and her family?
After a rape or an assault, it is hard to seek help or even harder to report it to the police especially when the attacker is your partner or someone you care about.
Our advice to someone like Kaz would be to contact our Safeline helpline where she can talk through how she feels and get information to help her to find the closest SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre), the nearest ISVA (independent sexual violence advisor) as well as providing emotional support. Many towns and cities have SARC and ISVA services and they would be able to support her through the whole process of collection of evidence and offer advice if she wants to report it or not. Kaz could talk to a helpline like us at Safeline about what has happened and our advisors would be able to help and assist with finding all of the information that she would need. For friends and family affected by Kaz’s abuse they can also seek help, support and advice from our specialist helpline.
SEXUAL ASSAULT REFERRAL CENTRES (SARCS)
A SARC provides services to victims of rape or sexual assault regardless of whether the victim reports the offence to the police or not. Their main role is to facilitate forensic examinations and in many cases they are able to keep your forensics safe until you feel to report to the police. They will also make sure that screens and tests are carried out so that your mind will be put at ease about things like blood-borne viruses and pregnancy.
SARCs are designed with the needs of victims of these kinds of crimes at the forefront of their mind. They are created to be comfortable and multi-functional, providing private space for interviews and examinations, and some may also offer counselling services. Sexual Assault Referral Centre’s have specialist staff that are trained to help you make informed decisions about what you want to do next.
INDEPENDENT SEXUAL VIOLENCE ADVISORS (ISVAS)
Many specialist support agencies offer an ISVA service to victims of rape and sexual assault. The ISVA role was commissioned by Baroness Stern through the Home Office Violent Crime Unit in 2005. Safeline ISVAs can work with ages 3+ and support victims across all genders, cultures and capabilities, with both recent or historic offences and ISVA’s work for as long as is required with clients going through the legal process.
An ISVA is trained to look after your needs, and to ensure that you receive care and understanding. They will help you understand how the criminal justice process works, and will explain things to you, such as what will happen if you report to the police. The key to an ISVA is that they are there to make sure that there is someone you can talk to INDEPENDENT from the legal process who can give you a clear view of all the options. They work with you during the legal process offering all sorts of emotional support and practical advice and can even be with you in Court so that you are not on your own.
An ISVA is there to provide you with information only, and you are not expected to report any offence to the police.
Find out more about Safeline’s ISVA services.
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