My ISVA called for a chat and to arrange to see me, I’ve wanted to write a blog to explain to people what an ISVA is and exactly what it is they do, so as we had a chat here it is. I had never heard of an ISVA in my life before until my attack, ISVA stands for Independent sexual violence advisor.

That’s exactly what they are only their not mine is so much more than that, yes she’s independent as in she’s not family, she’s not a friend she’s not the police, yes she knows ALOT about sexual violence, and yes she gives good advice. But she also offers me support in times of need, she’s listened to me be angry, cry, comforted me, told me home truths when I’ve needed to hear them, she’s always been really good at liaising with people for me, especially the police she does that all the time for a lot of her clients.

I always remember when she first called me, I had been told about ISVA’s by the police, at that point I really hadn’t taken advantage of the support which was available. I said yes as I thought can’t do no harm but I did sort of go into the having an ISVA situation not expecting very much, as it turned out I was wrong my ISVA has been one huge support to me. I will always remember when she called me and introduced herself, I remember kind of rolling my eyes and thinking sure another empty promise from someone that they can help me.

It took one telephone conversation with her for me to realise how wrong I was, she explained to me what an ISVA is and what they do. As I’ve explained in previous blogs ISVA stands for independent sexual violence advisor, they are part of victim support but very closely linked to the police, but one thing they stress from the beginning is an ISVA is not a police officer.

With the exception of certain things I am able to tell my ISVA virtually anything in confidence, there are certain things she’s explained from the beginning if I confided something in her, which led her to believe myself or anyone else could be at risk she’s duty bound to inform the police. I accept that as it’s for the safety of myself and others, in the year she’s worked with me I have told her one thing which she has told me she would need to tell the police. And that wasn’t due to anybody being in danger it was something I remembered which was very relevant to the case, but even then she wasn’t “right I’m calling them” she let me do it and trusted me to, I called the officer and told him and then he let her know I had told him and everyone was happy.

She’s helped me through all sorts of emotions, she’s very good at explaining why I’m feeling what I’m feeling. There’s feelings I’ve gone through which I just view as totally weird, unexplained and irrational. But she doesn’t view them that way she has experience of people going through what I have, so she understands and she’s very good at explaining why I’m feeling what I’m feeling. When I had to give an ABE she came with me, an ABE is short for (Achieving best evidence), the police generally view it as their preferred method to interview a victim of sexual assault.

The reasons they’ve explained to me for this are; it’s recorded on camera you sit in a room with an officer and another officer sits in a room next door recording, they ask you to explain everything that happened from start to finish, they get very detailed. And no it’s not nice at all and I would not wish an ABE on my worst enemy, they are used as court evidence, they are played to the jury which gives the victim a much easier time in court, you’re cross examined via video link on your ABE (providing video link is granted by the court) no police officers have EVER told me of a court declining video link, and I’ve asked a lot of them. This in itself is reassuring to know that looking into the future and the ifs, buts, and maybes, you know there is protection available in court.

Knowing my ISVA was in the room next door brought me so much comfort, and I felt more in control and able to say I need a break. And when I did she came outside with me for air, she hugged me, told me I was doing really well, reassured me we were nearly there.

That helped me to go back in and finish my interview, sometimes I wonder would I have managed to give as much evidence as I did without that support. My ISVA regularly texts me to see how I am, we’ve got to know each other really well and I have ALOT of trust in her, we have regular phone calls. I’m comfortable crying to her something I’m not comfortable to do around most people, when I cry to people I tend to apologise, there are very few people I don’t feel the need to apologise to; my parents, my siblings, and my ISVA that’s the level of trust and confidence I have in her.

She comes to visit me at home, we sit and talk about how I’m feeling, how I’m coping, sometimes we get distracted and have a laugh and a joke that makes things feel less serious, she’s visited me when I’ve opened the door had my hair and make up done and a smile on my face, I’ve also opened the door in my dressing gown with tears running down my face. And she treats me just the same either way, in the whole situation I know she’s on my side and I know she doesn’t judge me at all.

To be in her line of work she would have to not be judgemental at work or she would struggle with the job, but beyond that I just look at her and know as a person job aside she doesn’t have it in her to be like that. Many police officers have mentioned to me how much they like the ISVA’s. for the simple reason of them all being so lovely, that they work so very hard to give 100% to all of their “victims” as police say, an ISVA refers to you as a client… I prefer client I have to say. And the support that an ISVA can offer really is incredible.

if you have to have a police interview, an ABE, sometimes the police like to see you on a more informal basis just to double check things to make sure everything is spot on, that I’ve made no mistakes and that they’ve made none, as let’s be honest we are all human and therefore none of us are perfect or exempt from mistakes. On other occasions if there is an update with your case and its such an important update it is deemed important enough to be given on a face to face basis ( I’ve had this happen before), or If you have to attend court. With the help and on going support I for one know I have the support of my ISVA in any of those situations. If you’re a victim of rape, sexual assault domestic violence can you imagine the comfort she has brought to me?

And if you’re not and with every part of me I hope anyone reading this never becomes victim to such a nasty crime, even so can you imagine the support, comfort and peace of mind which she has brought to me? It’s unbelievable the support she can offer, last year my boss was giving me a hard time and my ISVA contacted her and liaised with her. She explained what I was going through and she made suggestions of how my employer could help, my work life overnight became instantly easier. And that’s just one small example, an ISVA definitely isn’t a job it is a career.

They are passionate and go above and beyond to help their clients. So few people know about their existence, yet they play a vital role on a survivors (yes survivor not victims) road to recovery. In my life as I grow up through my 20’s, 30’s and beyond, when I get married and have children. The support this women has offered me will never leave me.

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