What is an ISVA? And how can they help you?

Safeline’s ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Advisor) Team provide invaluable emotional support and guidance for anyone reporting current or historical sexual offences through the Criminal Justice System. The role of an ISVA was created in 2005, and while it is still a role that is not readily available everywhere, Safeline has a team of highly trained ISVAs who can work with survivors of all gender, cultures and from age 3+.

While we at Safeline were pleased that awareness of ISVA provision was highlighted in the current series of Broadchurch, we have concerns about how the character Beth, the ISVA, has been portrayed. Safeline wants to make sure that anyone who is considering reporting an incident that has happened to them understands what an ISVA is and how this can help them. A growing concern for Safeline is that many victims do not know what an ISVA and after watching TV dramas such as Broadchurch where the ISVA has been portrayed wrong may worry victims/survivors and potentially put them off reporting.

It is important that Survivors make sure that they are supported by an ISVA who has been trained in the role. Sometimes some individuals call themselves ISVAs but have not undertaken the specialist training and therefore could do more harm than good!

Safeline ISVAs will never:

• Try to convince you to report something that happened to you in order or coerce you to make a formal report – Safeline ISVA’s do not work to increase Police reporting figures, they work to support the Survivor, ensuring that they are heard and are respected throughout the process. Their Agenda is the Victims Code and the Witness Charter and is individual to each Survivor engaging with the service.

• Suggest that a Survivor ‘owes it to other possible victims’ to make a report – Survivors can often have incredible guilt, and in fact, nobody at Safeline in any department would do anything to add to this. Each Survivor should be able to do what is right just for them.

• Tell you that any decision you have made is wrong! Safeline ISVAs respect, advocate and support a Survivor’s right to make their decisions and will back them in a non-judgemental way.

• Challenge a Survivor if they decide not to report.

In the series (Broadchurch) we see Beth accosting an adult survivor in the street saying that as she is not the lady’s ISVA, she can voice her opinion on the survivor’s situation. Safeline believes that this scene was incredibly cruel and a gross misrepresentation of the manner of a qualified ISVA.

Anyone considering engaging with Safeline should know that all of us work to the very highest ethical standards, respecting each client in their frame of reference.

For more detail on our service, or to reach out to our expert and devoted team, call 01926 402 498.

Safeline ISVA’s will:

• Provide Survivors with emotional and practical support and guidance from the point of considering making a report through to any potential Court appearance and beyond.

• They can be with individuals during their witness statement, which may be by video, although wherever possible it will be a different ISVA from the team who attends with a person from the one who will be allocated as your key ISVA. This is to ensure the integrity of a person’s evidence.

• The allocated key ISVA can be with a victim in Court as part of Special Measures provided to Survivors who, due to the nature of the crimes that they have endured, are classed by the CPS as Intimidated Witnesses.

• Explain the process from start to finish ensuring that Survivors can make decisions that are right for them.

If you would like to find out more about our ISVA Service or any of the other specialist services that Safeline offers, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We are ready to take your call.

Get in touch:

• For general enquiries call the office on 01926 402 498
• Helpline & online advisors on 0808 800 5008
• Male helpline on 0808 800 5005
• Young people’s helpline on 0808 800 5007
• Text out online help advisors on 07860 027573
• Live chat – https://www.safeline.org.uk/contact-us/

An ISVA client said:

“I did not imagine that there was someone out there for me, who was able to be there for me from the moment I reported what happened till beyond the end of the trial. She kept me going and understood me in a different way from my counsellor. And she was with me all the way.”


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