The Mission of an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor

The ISVA is leaning in and holding the hand of the woman seated on the sofa.

Navigating the aftermath of sexual trauma can feel overwhelming, but dedicated pillars of support are guiding survivors through these challenging times. Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) play a crucial role in this journey. Offering more than just advice, they provide understanding, advocacy, and vital resources to help survivors find their path to healing. This article delves into the multifaceted roles of ISVAs, looking at their commitment to positive change and empowerment.

The Indispensable Role of the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) Service

In the aftermath of sexual trauma, many emotions and challenges can engulf survivors, often leaving them feeling alone and overwhelmed. It’s in these moments that the vital role of Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) comes to the front. ISVAs are not merely advisors; they’re kind allies, standing shoulder to shoulder with those who’ve endured sexual violence or abuse, regardless of the time that has elapsed since the incident. Their firm commitment ensures that survivors are neither alone in their healing journey nor uninformed when navigating the often complex legal processes that might follow such traumas.

Survivors often face a tough legal landscape post-trauma. The ISVA service, understanding this challenge, puts guiding survivors first with:

Guidance with Police Communications

Ensuring survivors can voice their experiences and concerns to the police with clarity and confidence.

Demystifying Rights and Options

Equipping survivors with knowledge about their rights and ensuring they are well-informed about the choices available during a police investigation.

Pre-Trial and Court Support

Standing beside survivors as they navigate the challenges of trials, making sure they never face the overwhelming atmosphere of a courtroom alone.

Recognising that the aftermath of trauma extends beyond legal battles, the ISVA service offers a holistic support system:

Anonymous Police Communication

For survivors who might not be ready or willing to make a formal report, the service offers the opportunity to pass anonymous information to the police. This ensures that even those not pursuing formal action can still have their experiences acknowledged.

Advocacy on Related Issues

ISVAs provide assistance on various matters connected to the offence, be it housing, sexual health follow ups, challenges in work or education, or allowing access to therapeutic counselling.

Eligibility of the ISVA Service

The ISVA service dedicates itself to inclusivity, ensuring that survivors from diverse backgrounds receive the support they deserve.

The service is open to individuals of every gender aged 18 and above, reaching out to survivors of both recent and non recent sexual offences.

Specialised Support within the ISVA Service:

Diverse experiences require varied ways. Recognising this, the ISVA service offers specialist support:

Criminal Justice ISVA

 Focused on clients from Sussex, aiding them through the unique challenges they face.

Diocese of Chichester Affiliated ISVA

Support tailored for those abused in settings connected to the Diocese of Chichester.


Dedicated to help those who’ve faced racism, serving areas like Brighton, Hove, and East Sussex.

Multiple and Complex Needs ISVAs

 These advisors cater to individuals in Sussex confronting multiple obstacles such as homelessness, substance use, mental health issues, a history of crime, and sex working.

Acknowledging the need for diverse representation, the year 2023 marked the welcoming of the first Male ISVA, increasing the choices available to male survivors.

Core Confidentiality in the ISVA Service:

Trust is a pillar of the ISVA service. Survivors need an environment where they can speak freely, and the ISVA service strives to provide that:

Emphasis on Privacy

At its core, the service dedicates itself to establishing a space where survivors delve deeply into their feelings and concerns, ensuring that their discussions stay private and respected.

Understanding Boundaries

While the service values confidentiality, survivors must be aware of specific exceptions. In rare instances, the ISVA service may need to disclose specific information, such as potential risks of harm to the survivor or others.

Exceptions to Confidentiality Explained:

Transparency is crucial, and the ISVA service ensures survivors understand the limits of confidentiality:

Court Mandates

In instances where a court of law requires disclosure, the service may need to share certain details.

In rare situations, the ISVA service may find it necessary to share specific information, like potential risks of harm to the survivor or others.

Addressing Service Misconceptions:

To provide clarity and address potential misconceptions, it’s pivotal to understand that while this explanation aims to shed light on the invaluable services offered by the ISVA service, it does not directly offer these services:

Clarity on Service Role

 This information serves to detail what is available through the ISVA service, making sure survivors and those helping them are well-informed. It is not an offer of the service itself.

Encouraging Direct Contact

Those seeking support or further details should always contact the ISVA service directly. Their team is dedicated to giving assistance, answering questions, and making sure survivors receive the support they deserve.

By making sure this distinction is clear, the goal is to eliminate any potential confusion and direct individuals towards the right channels for help and support.

Empowerment through the ISVA Service:

Empowering survivors is at the core of the ISVA service. Their approach isn’t just about providing immediate aid, but also about equipping individuals with tools, resources, and knowledge:

Holistic Support

Beyond the criminal justice system, the ISVA service understands that survivors may face challenges in other areas of life due to the trauma they’ve experienced. Whether it’s issues related to housing, work, studies, or seeking counselling, ISVAs are there to provide advocacy and assistance.

Continuous Evolution

The ISVA service recognises the changing needs of survivors and continually strives to evolve. Their recent addition of a Male ISVA shows their commitment to making sure all survivors have options that resonate with their preferences and comfort levels.

By taking a holistic approach, the ISVA service doesn’t just offer support—it empowers survivors to reclaim their lives and move forward with confidence.

The Growing Specialism within ISVA Service:

Over the years, the ISVA service has recognised the diverse needs of survivors, ensuring that its approach is as tailored and nuanced as possible:

Criminal Justice Focus

Specific ISVAs dedicate themselves to supporting survivors living in specific regions, like Sussex. Their expertise in the criminal justice system allows them to provide targeted advice and guidance.

Support for Specific Groups

Recognising the unique challenges faced by various groups, the ISVA service has specialists for various scenarios. This includes an ISVA focusing on those abused in settings connected to specific institutions and an ISVA for individuals who have faced racism, ensuring these survivors get support that’s truly understanding of their experiences.

Tackling Complex Needs

Understanding that some survivors may face multiple barriers, the service offers Multiple and Complex Needs ISVAs. Their role is crucial for those dealing with challenges like homelessness, mental health issues, substance use, and more.

Embracing Gender Diversity

The introduction of a Male ISVA to the team underscores the ISVA service’s commitment to ensuring every survivor, irrespective of their gender, feels seen and supported.

This commitment to diversification and specialism ensures that the ISVA service remains responsive, inclusive, and continuously attuned to the evolving needs of survivors.


Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) offer critical support to survivors of sexual violence. Their diverse services, from guiding through the justice process to giving tailored assistance, exemplify dedication. In an age demanding empathy and action, the ISVA service is an important beacon for survivors, encapsulating hope and positive change.


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