Trigger warning

This page contains information that may be upsetting and triggering to survivors of abuse.

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Rape and Sexual Violence Support Services

We support women, children and men who have experienced rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse.

 

Our support is available whether the abuse happened recently or years ago, and whether or not you choose to report what happened to the police.

 

We can never take away what happened, but there is life after rape and sexual abuse. Please read on to find out how we can help.

Has it happened to you?

Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. If someone intentionally grabs or touches you in a sexual way that you don’t like, if you’re forced to kiss someone or do something else sexual against your will, this is sexual assault.

If you are forced to have sex with someone, or someone has sex with you without your consent or agreement, this is rape.

If this has happened to you, it is important to remember that it is not your fault. No-one ever asks to be raped or assaulted, or deserves it. Rape and sexual assault are criminal offences, and the blame lies with the abuser.

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Frequently asked questions

Was it my fault?

No it wasn’t your fault. Whatever the circumstances, nobody has the right to force you to have sex, sexually assault or harass you. This includes if you:

 

  •         had been drinking alcohol or taking drugs at the time
  •         know the person or have had sex with them before
  •         had been kissing or touching that person beforehand
  •         were with someone of the same sex
  •         didn’t say ‘no’ or didn’t fight back
  •         can’t really remember it properly.

Can this happen to a man?

Yes, men can be sexually harassed, assaulted or raped. This could happen to gay or straight men, and you can be sexually assaulted by a male or a female.

 

Being assaulted doesn’t mean that you are weak or that you should have been able to stop it from happening. Sexual assault and rape are never your fault.

What does ‘consent’ mean?

Consent means agreeing to do something and being comfortable with that decision. Consent has to be given freely and no one can make you consent to something. It’s not consent if you do something because you feel like you have to. You consent to sexual activity only if you agree to it, and if you have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

 

Freedom: you can’t consent to sexual activity if you are subject to threats or fear of serious harm, unconscious, drugged, abducted, or were unable to communicate because of a physical disability.

 

Capacity: Your ability to consent may be affected by being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, even if you were conscious at the time.

 

You may consent to one form of sexual activity but not another, for example you might consent to kiss and do other things, but not have full intercourse. Everyone has a choice in whether they want to have sex or engage in any sexual activity. You can also withdraw consent at any time if you are not comfortable, and if the other person does not stop, that is sexual assault or rape.

 

Consent can never be assumed: it is the responsibility of each partner to make sure that the other person fully consents to each activity. Sex without consent is rape.

 

The age of consent in the UK is 16 and a child under the age of 13 cannot legally consent to any sexual activity.

What if I was in a relationship with the person at the time?

You always have the right to say ‘no’ or withdraw consent to sexual activity, regardless of whether you have given consent to sex with that person in the past, or are in a relationship with them.

 

Sex without consent is rape.

It happened a long time ago, is there anything I can do?

Yes. Some survivors of rape and sexual assault take many years to acknowledge what happened, and it can feel very difficult to talk about it or get help. But it’s never too late.

 

Our services can support and advise you whether the assault happened recently or many years ago, and whether you were an adult or a child at the time.

I feel confused and don’t know if what happened to me was rape or sexual assault. What can I do?

If something has happened to you and you are not sure whether it was rape or sexual assault, you can still call us to speak to a support worker to get some advice.

My friend or family member was assaulted. How do I support them?

It is not easy to support someone through this difficult time. Please download our guide for friends and family at the bottom of this page.

Getting in touch

Please contact us to speak to an advisor and find out more about how we can support you.

If you are from an agency and would like to refer someone you are working with please scroll down for a referral form and details of our secure email.

“I stayed silent for years, I looked for someone to tell. When I did, I felt a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was not alone.”

How you might be feeling… the impact of rape and sexual assault

Rape and sexual violence are very traumatic events, and people can respond very differently to trauma. Not everyone reacts in the same way but some common reactions that people may have are:

  • If the assault happened recently you might be in shock. This could mean that you feel numb, unemotional, or in denial, or it could mean that you are crying, laughing, shaking or feeling sick
  • You might have flashbacks of what happened
  • You might feel guilty and ashamed, that you are to blame or should have done something to prevent the assault
  • You might be too afraid to tell anyone
  • You might fear that people will not believe you, will blame you or judge you
  • You might have nightmares, or trouble sleeping
  • You might feel depressed, upset and tearful
  • You might feel worthless or critical of yourself or your actions
  • You might find it hard to trust people or to make friends
  • You might be afraid of people, places, or of being alone
  • You might feel angry or irritable with people around you, and your relationships might become strained or break down
  • You might find it hard to cope at work or with your studies
  • You might feel you have lost your confidence and find it hard to cope with everyday life
  • You might think about hurting yourself, or suicide
  • You might want to use drugs or alcohol

 

You might be experiencing one of these things, or all of them. However you are feeling, you are having a valid response to what has happened to you.

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Talk to someone… it can help

We know it is difficult to talk about what has happened, but telling someone can really help. Contact us, and our Black Country Rape and Sexual Violence Service will help you to get the support that you need.

We will believe you. We will listen to you, support you, advocate for you and give you time and space to decide what you want to do. We won’t judge you because of what you say or force you to make a decision you do not want to make.

Our support is available to you whether the abuse happened recently or years ago, and whether or not you want to report what happened to the police.

We can never take away what happened to you, but there is life after rape and sexual assault. We can help you with choices on how to move forward.

“My support worker was easy to talk to and very kind. She listened to me and answered any concerns I had… she didn’t [leave me] until I said I was ready to carry on without her… I trust her and she has been there throughout”

How we can support you

Our support workers are called ISVAs (Independent Sexual Violence Advisers). They are trained specialists who can work with you one to one and support you both emotionally and practically.

The things that they can help with include:

  • Being there for you as someone you can talk to in confidence who will listen to you and believe you;
  • Sharing information with you so that you feel empowered to make decisions that are right for you. They will never pressure you to make decisions or take action you’re not comfortable with;
  • Helping you to understand how the criminal justice process works, explaining what will happen if you choose to report to the police and if you choose not to;
  • If you do choose to report, your ISVA can support you through the legal process, at court, and afterwards;
  • Advocacy with other agencies you come into contact with, ensuring that your views, opinions, wishes and feelings are respected and listened to;
  • Access to counselling and support groups.

 

Although ISVAs work closely with other organisations to ensure you get the best support, they are independent of all statutory agencies including the Police, Local Authority and Social Services.

Confidentiality

We will work with you in a confidential way. This means that we will not share any information with your family, the police or anyone else without your permission.

The only time we will ever share any information without your permission is if we are worried about a child or vulnerable person’s safety.

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Service locations

The Black Country Rape and Sexual Violence Service covers Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton. Please click below for contact details and information in your area.

Sexual Violence Support Groups

Going through rape or sexual violence can make you feel very isolated and even ashamed of what has happened to you. Being in a group where others have had similar experiences can really help. There is no pressure to share your own experience if you do not feel ready; our support groups offer a safe and supportive space where you feel you are not alone.

Survivor Support Group

A friendly weekly group offering regular wellbeing activities such as mindfulness, discussions, and group support.

Rape and Sexual Violence Resources

Referral form

Professionals: please use this form to make a referral for support

ISVA leaflet

Information leaflet about our ISVA support service

Guide for Survivors

Information and advice booklet for survivors of rape and sexual violence

Guide for family and friends

Information and advice booklet for family and friends of survivors of rape and sexual violence

Don’t suffer in silence

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