Helpline

When is the helpline open?

Our helpline number is 01223 245 888 and it is open:

  • Wednesday 7pm – 9.30pm
  • Thursday 7pm – 9.30pm
  • Sunday 10am – 12.30pm

What is the helpline?

Our helpline is a confidential and anonymous emotional support service. It is for women and girls of all ages and backgrounds who have been subjected to or are survivors of any form of sexual violence.

If you are calling for the first time you will have up to 45 minutes (up to 30 minutes after that) to chat with one of our trained women and non-binary volunteers over the phone.

During the session, the volunteer will create a safe space for you to talk, and we will listen to whatever you want to say, at your pace. Don’t worry if you don’t know where to begin. We will help you to find ways to express difficult feelings and talk about difficult situations, without offering advice or telling you what to do.

We can ask questions and listen while you explore your options, and if you ask us for information about other forms of support, we can help provide this too.


Who is the helpline for?

Our telephone helpline is for women and girls of all ages and backgrounds who are survivors of rape, child sexual abuse or any form of sexual violence.

This includes those who are trans, non-binary and who have complex gender identities which include ‘woman’.

It doesn’t matter when this abuse happened, whether recently or a long time ago, we are here for you.

We are also here for anyone who is supporting a female survivor, personally or professionally.

Male survivors can find information about relevant support services here.


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Helpline FAQs

You can talk to us about anything in complete confidence. We will never repeat anything you say outside of Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre. We do discuss our helpline calls with other volunteers within the service (see ‘Can I always speak to the same volunteer?’). However, we ensure this information never reaches anyone outside of Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre. We do not report anything that is said to us to the police or any other outside body. Our confidentiality policy is available for download if you want further information. If you are under 18, we will not pass along anything you say unless you tell us your full name and address and ask us to report to the police on your behalf. We respect your right to make decisions about your own life. You can also find our privacy statement here.

You don’t have to give us your name or any identifying details about yourself, although if you find you’re ringing regularly you might want to give us a name or pseudonym (made-up name) to help us recognise you.

In order to make sure that we can reach as many women and girls as possible, we set time limits on your calls to us.

When you speak to us for the first time, the call can last up to 45 minutes. Even if you call near the end of the session, we will still talk to you for up to half an hour. After that you can phone us up to two times a week for a call lasting up to 30 minutes each time.

Some callers speak to us only once, some phone regularly, others use our service as and when they need to over a period of years.

Some calls last only a few minutes. This depends entirely on what you find most helpful.

Our helpline is for women and girls. While we recognise the experiences and pain of men who have suffered any kind of sexual violence, here at Cambridge Rape Crisis we have found that a women-only service provision is an invaluable environment for many female callers. We recognise the need for specialist services for men and more information about these services can be found here.

Our helpline is available for all women and girls, including those who are trans, non-binary, who have complex gender identities which include ‘woman’ and those who experience oppression as women.

Calls are charged at a local rate.

If you would like us to call you back, please ask and we will happily do so. We will withhold our number when we call you back so that no-one else will be able to see who has called you (however if you have an itemised phone bill our number will appear on it).

You are welcome to send us an email, letter or call us at the office (full contact details are available in our contact us section), and our feedback form is also available for download if you want to give more detailed feedback on your experiences.

If you wish to make a formal complaint about the helpline service, our complaints policy and procedure is available to download here.

Any feedback we get is treated anonymously, whether it is good or bad, and helps us to improve our service. We do sometimes use anonymous comments in reports to our funders so if you don’t want your comments to be used, please tell us.

We treat all forms of sexual abuse seriously and are here for you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not sure how to name it, if you don’t fully remember, or if aren’t sure how you feel about it, we will listen and talk this through with you.

When you call us during our opening times, you will hear a pre-recorded message letting you know that you have got through.

After this, the phone will ring and if your call isn’t answered immediately (within 10 seconds of the pre-recorded message ending), it means all of our call-takers are currently on calls, and we encourage you to call back and try again later that session.

If you call us outside of our opening times you will hear a pre-recorded message giving our opening times. We are unable to accept voice messages or text messages.

If you contact us more than once, your calls will be answered by different volunteers.

Our volunteers are all trained in providing support to survivors of sexual violence, and we do discuss helpline calls within the volunteer team. This is to encourage each other to deliver a good and consistent support service. It also makes it less likely that you will have to repeat yourself if you call more than once and speak to different volunteers.

We understand that talking about sexual violence can be really difficult. We won’t rush you to speak, and if you can’t talk very much or at all we can stay on the phone quietly with you. Sometimes having a human connection can really help.

We do not see your phone number when your call comes in, and we do not trace calls. Your phone number will be held by our phone provider, unless you choose to withhold your number when you call us. If you have an itemised phone bill, our helpline number will show up on it.

We never record helpline calls. Your voice is only heard by the volunteer you are speaking to at the time.

We do keep brief notes of calls which include your first name, if you choose to give it to us. These notes are shared within the volunteer team, to help us provide a good and consistent service. It also makes it less likely that you will have to repeat yourself if you call more than once and speak to different volunteers. These notes are kept strictly confidential within Cambridge Rape Crisis.

If your call isn’t answered immediately (within 10 seconds of the pre-recorded message ending), it means all of our call-takers are on calls, and we encourage you to hang up and try again later that session.

It is possible that you may not be able to get through to us if we are very busy. We understand that this might feel difficult or disappointing, and we encourage you to try again the next time we are open.

We are unable to accept voicemails or text messages, however you can send us an email any time via our email support service, and we aim to respond within 7 days.

See also ‘Where else can I get support?’.

A helpline volunteer will end a conversation if they believe they are dealing with a prank or abusive user.


Where else can I get support?

Rape Crisis England & Wales – Telephone Helpline

National Telephone Helpline: 0808 802 9999

The National Telephone Helpline is provided by Rape Crisis South London. It offers confidential emotional support, information and referral details.

Open between 12:00 – 14:30 and 19:00 – 21:30 every day of the year.

For more information about Rape Crisis England & Wales’ support services, click here.