What is the Advocacy Service?

Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre offers free and confidential practical support and advice for survivors of sexual violence through its advocacy service.

This service is part of the Cambridge and Peterborough Rape Crisis Partnership and comprises a countywide team of Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVAs) and Children and Young People’s Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ChISVAs).

The ISVAs usually work with people aged 19 and over and the ChISVAs usually support survivors aged 18 and under.

ISVAs and ChISVAs are specialist support workers whose job is to provide assistance to individuals who have been the victims of sexual offences. The role was introduced in 2006 as part of a Home Office-led initiative to improve outcomes for victims of these crimes.

They offer practical and emotional support to anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted, recently or in the past, and help you to access other available support services to address both short-term and long-term needs.

They can support you through the criminal justice system, providing information on what happens when you report to the police and assisting you to engage with these processes, if you would like. ISVAs and ChISVAs also help you to understand your rights, as well as access support for your emotional needs and help with safety planning.

You do not have to report to the police to get support from our advocacy service.

Who is the service for?

Our advocacy service supports anyone who lives in Cambridgeshire and has been subjected to any form of sexual violence; irrespective of age, gender, background or how long ago the abuse happened.

The way we work

To receive support from our advocacy service, we need you to be referred to us. You can do this yourself (self-referral) or a professional can make the referral on your behalf and with your permission (professional referral). The referral process is an online form which you can find on this page.

Once we receive your referral, our Countywide Duty ISVA will be in touch to do a needs assessment and take you through what to expect.

ARU students

Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre is working in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

The ARU Student Sexual Violence Advocate (SSVA) Service supports student survivors of sexual violence by offering practical support and advocacy to students who are reporting to ARU, or to the police.

All ARU students can access SSVA support, regardless of the campus they study on.

For more information about how the SSVA Service can support you, please email

Professionals making a referral

Please ensure that the survivor is aware of and has consented to the referral before making a professional referral to us.


You can refer yourself – ‘self-referral’ – to our advocacy service by completing our online form:

If you aren’t able to complete the referral form online, please contact us during office hours on 01223 313 551.

Alternatively, if you are a professional seeking to refer someone – ‘professional referral’ – to our advocacy service. Please ensure you have their consent first and then complete this form:

All referrals go through our partnership – Cambridge & Peterborough Rape Crisis Partnership – website.

Useful resources

Other support services


If you have any queries about our advocacy service, please have a read through our FAQs below. If you don’t find the answer you need, you can contact us at:

“Thank you for your amazing help, there aren’t enough words to say how amazing the ISVA service is!”
“The support was amazing, as well as my daughter’s case we (me) were going through domestic abuse and the children saw some of this. Our ChISVA listened to me and my children and that was what we all needed as well as supporting us all through the trial.”
“I feel less stuck because someone who knows about the processes was able to take the time to explain things to me. This meant a great deal.”
“My daughters had someone they could engage with (their ChISVA) and I was able to come to terms with what has happened to me and actually be able to see a future was possible.”
“There are so many positive changes because of [my ISVA]’s support. It’s been life-changing. I received more support than I even knew was possible. I now have a great support network, help at university and counselling. [My ISVA] gave me back my hope, my voice, my courage, and she helped me make it through the worst times in the immediate aftermath. She explained my feelings, which was hugely beneficial and she was incredibly emotionally supportive when I was providing crime information. She was outstanding.”
“Your support has been so important in my life. [My ISVA] helped me get in contact with Women’s Aid who helped me get a flat when I had nowhere or no-one. I am so very grateful. The support for legal advice and counselling has been a blessing.”
“[My ISVA] was amazingly helpful, supportive and kind. It was a very good way to start my path of recovery.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Our Countywide Duty ISVA will call you for a chat to find our more about 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 Countywide Duty ISVA will usually also speak to their parent or legal guardian.

When the service is especially busy, it can take a little longer to be seen by an ISVA/ChISVA. If this is the case when you are referred to us, our Countywide Duty ISVA will keep in contact with you while you are waiting, so that you can speak to someone about any changes in your circumstances or concerns that you may have.

You should only be referred to the service with your consent, and ISVAs/ChISVAs will only work with you if you want them to. If you don’t feel ready to see an ISVA/ChISVA or if you feel that you don’t need the support at the moment, you can ask for your case to be closed any time. If you change your mind in the future, we welcome people getting back in touch any time.

The advocacy service is confidential and entirely independent from other agencies.

The only situation that may require an ISVA/ChISVA to share any of your information is where a child or vulnerable person may be at risk of harm.

ISVAs/ChISVAs do not share information with the police, although sometimes the police or Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) may request a copy of ISVA/ChISVA records as part of their investigation. We have strict data sharing processes to manage this and will not share records unless data sharing thresholds are met and we have your consent to do so.

Your ISVA/ChISVA will discuss confidentiality with you at your first meeting. Our confidentiality policy is also available for download if you want further information.

Our ISVAs/ChISVAs work office hours, 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.

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

All our support services are LGBTQIA+ inclusive.

An ISVA usually works with adult survivors, so anyone aged 19 and over. A ChISVA usually works with anyone aged 18 and under, as well as their families if appropriate. Everyone in the Ch/ISVA team has the ability to work with anyone, of any age.

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.

It varies according to your needs. ISVAs/ChISVAs 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

You can refer yourself for support from the advocacy service by completing an online referral form – you will find the link to this form in the top right-hand column of this page. You will also be given the option to access our advocacy service if you report a sexual offence to the police or attend a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for a forensic medical examination.

Professionals can only refer on your behalf with your permission. Once you have given the professional your consent, they can refer you using the online referral form for professional referrals which you will find on this page.