Independent Sexual Violence Advocate Service

Cambridge and Peterborough Rape Crisis Partnership (CAPRCP) offers practical information and advocacy support for survivors of sexual violence through its Independent Sexual Violence Advocate (ISVA) service. The adult ISVA service works with people aged 19 and over and the Children and Young People’s ISVA (ChISVA) supports survivors aged 18 and under. The role was introduced in 2006 as part of a Home Office-led initiative to improve outcomes for victims of these crimes.

ISVAs offer practical and emotional support to anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted, recently or in the past. They can help you to access other available support services to address both short- and long-term needs. They can support you through the criminal justice system, providing information on what happens when you report to the police.

You do not have to report to the police to get support from an ISVA. They can help those who are not reporting to access support for their emotional needs as well as help with safety planning. They can help you understand how the criminal justice process works, such as what will happen if you report to the police, what will happen if you report anonymously or the importance and process of forensic DNA retrieval.

ISVAs will support you in a non-judgmental way to work with you to identify your needs and ensure that other agencies provide you with information.

Who do the ISVAs work with?

Our ISVA and ChISVA service supports anyone who lives in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough and has experienced sexual violence, irrespective of age, gender, background, or how long ago the offence happened.

What is the difference between an ISVA and ChISVA?

An ISVA works with adult survivors, so anyone aged 19 and over. A ChISVA works with anyone aged 18 and under, as well as their families if appropriate.

How do I stay in touch with my ISVA?

When you are assigned to an ISVA, she will give you her contact number and email address, so you can keep in touch by text, phone and email, whichever you prefer. Your ISVA will also arrange face-to-face meetings at safe times and locations that are convenient for you.

What kind of support can I get from an ISVA?

It varies according to your needs. ISVAs can help with:

  • providing impartial information and advice to those considering reporting sexual offences
  • understanding the criminal justice process and supporting people from report to court as well as in the months following a trial
  • liaising with the police, if you have reported the crime
  • providing emotional support
  • supporting your welfare and safety through a process of risk assessment and safety planning
  • advocating on your behalf to enable you to exert some influence on processes that concern you
  • providing practical help with issues such as housing and benefits
  • putting you in touch with other services that may benefit you, such as specialist counselling or domestic violence support
  • referring to agencies who can help you with specialist needs, such as counselling, sexual health, mental health, substance misuse and housing
  • assisting you to apply for criminal injuries compensation
What happens when I am referred?

Our administrator will contact you to conduct a needs assessment – this is a chat that takes around 20-40 minutes and looks at your current situation, what types of support you would find most useful and what areas you most want help with. If the person being referred is under the age of 16, the administrator will also speak to their parent or legal guardian to establish what their main needs are. Due to the demands on the service, there can be a small waiting list for both ISVA and ChISVA support. Our administrator will keep in contact with you while you are on the waiting list, so that you can speak to someone about any changes in your circumstances or concerns that you may have.

What if I don't want support from an ISVA?

You should only be referred to the service with your consent and ISVAs will only work with you if you want them to. If you don’t feel ready to see an ISVA or if you feel that you don’t need the support at the moment, you can take yourself off the waiting list or ask for your case to be closed any time. If you change your mind in the future, we welcome people re-referring themselves.

Do ISVAs tell the police what I say?

The ISVA and ChISVA services are confidential and entirely independent from other agencies. The only situation that may require an ISVA to share any of your information is where a child or vulnerable person may be at risk of harm. ISVAs do not share information with the police, although sometimes the police or CPS may request a copy of ISVA records as part of their investigation. These will not be shared without your consent and you can discuss any concerns you have about confidentiality with your ISVA at your first meeting.  

Can I meet an ISVA at the weekend?

Our ISVAs work Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, so they are not able to meet you in the evening or at the weekend. They can travel to meet you at a safe and convenient location and see you during the day at a time when it is suitable for you.

I'm LGBT, can I have an ISVA?

Our ISVA and ChISVA service supports anyone who lives in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough and has experienced sexual violence, irrespective of age, gender, background, or how long ago the offence happened.

I'm a man, can I have an ISVA?

Our ISVA and ChISVA service supports anyone who lives in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough and has experienced sexual violence, irrespective of age, gender, background, or how long ago the offence happened.