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What support is available to help you - Rape and Serious Sexual Assault

You have a right under the Victims’ Code to be referred to services that support victims. You can contact them yourself or you can ask to be referred by your police contact. These are some examples of the types of services and support which you might find helpful. 

If you need emergency help at any point please dial 999.

Independent Sexual Violence Advisers

Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (also called ISVAs) can provide professional support, advice and help for victims of sexual violence, whether you report to the police or not. If you do report the incident to the police, your adviser can support you through the criminal justice process including accompanying you on the day of trial or a pre-trial court visit.

There are three national umbrella groups who provide ISVA services:

You can contact any of these organisations to find out more about ISVA services and to request an ISVA. You can also ask the police to refer you to an ISVA service.

Counselling and therapy

There are specialist services that provide counselling and therapy for victims of rape and serious sexual assault. You can find more information from the following organisations:

You can also access counselling and other psychological therapies from the NHS.

You should prioritise your wellbeing and there is no need to delay therapy or counselling for any reason connected with a criminal investigation or prosecution. If you feel it would help it’s important to access it as early as possible.

The Witness Service

The Witness Service, which is run by Citizens Advice, can help you to understand what to expect at court by offering you pre-trial support and a visit to the court in advance of the day.  This means they will show you around a court and explain what will happen on the day.

They will also be there to support you on the day of trial and can come with you into the courtroom if you’d find that helpful. The police can refer you to the Witness Service or you can request support from them yourself by filling in their short form.

In London, pre-trial support is provided by Victim Support.

Other specialist support

There are other specialist organisations that provide support to victims of sexual violence and abuse. In many cases the support they offer is available regardless of whether or not you choose to report the incident to the police. If you do decide to report there is support available throughout the criminal justice process.

You can find out more on the Ministry of Justice’s Victim and Witness Information website and on the sexual violence and abuse support page.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is a government funded scheme designed to compensate victims of violent crime.

You may be entitled to compensation if you have suffered an injury or a loss as a result of a crime. The scheme is designed to be one of last resort for victims who have no other way to access compensation.

You can find out more about the scheme and the time limits for applying in the criminal injuries compensation guide on

Support to give your evidence

If your case goes to trial, there is support available to help you give your evidence. You can read more about this support in the section Support to give your evidence.

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