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Survivor Support

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Trigger Warning: This article contains content that may be distressing for some. Abuse and sexual assault are some of topics mentioned and resouces have been provided should you need to seek additional support. 


The Cambridge dictionary defines the term survivor as “a person who is able to continue living their life successfully despite experiencing difficulties”, and the free dictionary refines this into “[carrying] on despite hardships or trauma; to cope with a trauma and persevere after”. The common theme here is the strength and courage survivors encompass even after great losses to their own identity and control; a collective of people who have continued to fight after surviving traumatic events.

Another definition mentions “persistence” and references plants that can survive harsh climates such as frost, heat, or lack of water – this imagery touches upon strength found in perseverance to survive and the sacrifices made to make it through struggles. That is what a survivor is. Someone who has fought battles unseen by others; in themselves and in the physical world. Usually left to feel ashamed, unwanted and wrong, survivors of abuse are in actuality an embodiment of bravery and courage. Children should not have to fight to be safe. Society should aim to create a safe space for adult survivors to heal, to disclose (if they want to) and to get the help they deserve. By continuing to shut down conversations around childhood abuse, by continuing to shy away from uncomfortable topics in fear of re-opening a wound, we are doing a disservice to those struggling, to those who have fought to persevere through immense trauma, and failing to protect those who are vulnerable, especially children.

"It took me a long time to understand what happened to me as a child and the impact it’s had. But speaking to family, friends, my partner and NAPAC helped me get the support I needed." - Rupa / NSPCC staff1

To give an idea of just how many people have been affected, it is estimated there is minimum of 11 million adult survivors of contact and non-contact child abuse in the UK (Radford et al2). Some of these survivors take over 20 years to disclose the abuse, while most never disclose at all. The long-term effects of childhood abuse can include many emotional, psychological and physical conditions.

In England and Wales3

– 9% of adults experienced psychological abuse during childhood.

– 7% suffered physical abuse in childhood

– 7% suffered sexual assault in childhood

– 8% witnessed domestic violence or abuse in the home during childhood

The experience of abuse at any age and whether male or female can have devastating effects on every aspect of a person’s being and life – on their mind, their body, their behaviour, thoughts and feelings. University is a massive adjustment for any student to undertake, let alone a survivor already dealing with the long-term effects of their past, this stress can increase feelings of loneliness or isolation. Abuse can have detrimental, long term effects on health, relationships and education1, and knowing there is support available could help those already affected to seek help so that their journey through higher education is not affected4.

Creating safe spaces for tough conversations and pushing for more readily available resources will help raise awareness of charities there to support adult survivors, and show them they have nothing to be ashamed of. It was not their fault and hiding behind the shame of what the perpetrator did is only preventing their healing and the protection of future victims. Trauma informed systems can have better outcomes for people affected by trauma (NHS Education for Scotland, May 20175), thus implementing resources in higher education environments has the potential to positively impact their lives during university; preventing trauma relapse and allowing survivors to have a semblance of a “normal” life. The more society is educated on the effects of childhood abuse and how these may materialise in adult life, survivors will be empowered to heal and feel as though they have a space in the community we have built. Anglia Ruskin University has the potential to positively impact the lives of silently struggling students, while being conscious of how to support students dealing with these exceptional circumstances that have long lasting effects.

Remember you have a right to be safe and to choose what happens to you. The Survivors Trust is determined to ensure that all survivors have access to appropriate counselling, support and advice so that they can reclaim their lives and obtain the justice they deserve.” – The Survivors Trust6

Below is a list of resources and registered charities for survivors of abuse that would be useful to circulate to all counsellors, implement into the well-being walls and the website so that students and staff alike are informed and can sign post to the right support. Survivors need to feel respected, believed, heard and loved in order to successfully deal with their trauma; this is why breaking the stigma is vital to their journey.


Child abuse – support for all

HAVOCA (Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse)

Provides information to any adult who is suffering from past childhood abuse. Website includes survivors' forum.


PO Box 58, Chichester PO19 8UD

Freephone helpline: 0808 802 0808

Text helpline: 07717 989 022

Telephone counselling for survivors of sexual abuse and those supporting survivors. Also offers face-to-face counselling and art therapy groups in West Sussex.

One in four

Advocacy service, counselling service (available over skype and in several languages) and information for people who have experienced sexual abuse.


The Lantern Project

Help and support for survivors of sexual abuse. Information library on website, and survivors' online forum.


The Survivors Trust

UK network of support organisations for survivors of rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse. Offers extensive information resources plus details of your local specialist support.

Free, confidential helpline: 08088 010 818

Mon 10am-7:30pm

Tues 10am-12pm & 1:30pm-7:30pm

Wed 10am-7:30pm

Thur 10am-4pm & 5pm-7:30pm

Fri 10am-2pm

Office: 01788 550554

Mon-Fri 9am-5pm

Twitter: @survivorstrust

Facebook: Survivors.Trust

Instagram: thesurvivorstrust

Write to us at:

The Survivors Trust

Unit 2, Eastlands Court Business Centre

St Peter’s Road



CV21 3QP

Email us at:

Registered Charity Number: 1109305


From <>


Child abuse – support for women

CIS'ters (Childhood Incest Survivors)

PO Box 119, Eastleigh SO50 92F

tel: 023 8033 8080

Provides help and support for adult women who suffered incest as a child. Organises workshops and conferences to raise awareness on the issues surrounding incest, particularly mental distress.


Rape Crisis (England and Wales)

National Freephone helpline: 0808 802 9999 (12–12.30 pm, 7pm–9.30pm every day, plus 3pm–5.30pm weekdays)

Lists local organisations throughout England and Wales with contact details, services offered and opening times. Services are available to women who have been sexually abused at any time in their lives.


Child abuse – support for men


tel: 01273 911 680

Provides one-to-one counselling, therapeutic groups and couple counselling to men (age 18+) who have experienced sexual abuse at any time in their lives.


Survivors UK

020 3598 3898

Opening hours: Mon to Fri: 10.30am to 9pm, Sat to Sun: 10am to 6pm. Support for men who have been raped or sexually abused. Also provides webchat, face-to-face counselling and support groups in the London area.


Other Support Resources



Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) provides services to victims/survivors of rape or sexual assault regardless of whether the survivor/victim chooses to reports the offence to the police or not.

Sexual Assault Referral Centres are designed to be comfortable and multi-functional, providing private space for interviews and examinations, and some may also offer counselling services.  “SARC”s have specialist staff that are trained to help you make informed decisions about what you want to do next.

Click to find details of local Independent Sexual Violence Adviser services (ISVAs).


From <>



The Elms

Address: Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Hinchingbrooke Park, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 6NT

Telephone: 0800 193 5434




From <>



Essex Sexual Assault Referral Centre

Address: Oakwood Place, C/O Brentwood Community Hospital, Crescent Road, Brentwood, Essex. CM15 8DR

Telephone number: 01277 240620

Fax Number: 01277 240621

Secure Generic Email:

Non secure Email:



From <>


Area: LONDON, Camberwell

Haven – Camberwell

Address: King’s College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London, SE5 9RS

Telephone: 020 3299 1599 Office | 020 3299 9000 Out of Hours


Area: LONDON, Paddington

Haven – Paddington

Address: St. Mary’s Hospital, Praed Street, London, W2 1NY

Telephone: 020 3312 1101 Office | 020 3312 6666 Out Of Hours



From <>


Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs)

Many specialist support agencies offer an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) service to victims/survivors of rape and sexual assault. The Independent Sexual Violence Adviser role was commissioned by Baroness Stern through the Home Office Violent Crime Unit in 2005.

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, and the importance and process of forensic DNA retrieval.

An ISVA is there to provide you with information only so that you can make the right decision for you.  By contacting them, you are not expected to report any offence to the police.


From <>



Contact Name: ISVA at The Elms (SARC)

Telephone: 01480 425003


Client Group: Clients of all ages including children

Area covered: Cambridgeshire



From <>



0Contact Name: Rebekah Brant, ISVA based at SERICC

Telephone: 01375 380609



Area Covered: Thurrock, Basildon, Brentwood, Billericay, Wickford


Contact Name: Sonia Watts, ISVA based at Victim Support Ingatestone

Telephone: 01277 357563 or 07722 464875



Client Group: Male and female victims of rape and sexual assault, aged 13 years and over

Area Covered: Essex


Contact Name: Charlotte Harris, ISVA based at Victim Support Essex

Telephone: 01277 357563

Mobile: 07722 464 874



Client Group: Male and female victims of rape and sexual assault, aged 13 years and over

Area Covered: Essex


Contact Name: Cara Newbury, Young Persons ISVA based at Victim Support Essex

Telephone: 01277 357563

Mobile: 07507 847706



Client Group: Male and female victims of rape and sexual assault, aged 13 to 17 years old

Area Covered: Essex


From <>


  1. Radford, L. et al (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today NSPCC From
  2. NSPCC -
  3. NAPAC -
  4. NAPAC -
  5. NHS Education Scotland. National Trauma Training Framework – a trauma informed approach
  6. The Survivors Trust -


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