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  1. Meet Nicola – RSVP’s newest LGBT Independent Sexual Violence Advocate

    Hi, I’m Nicola and I’m the newest edition to the LGBT ISVA team at RSVP. I joined at the beginning of September and feel very privileged to be a part of this family. I started at RSVP as a volunteer counsellor originally and I will always say my role as a LGBT Independent Sexual Violence Advocate was fate.

    As I was travelling in for my counselling role, I thought about trying to organise an LGBT coffee morning group and when I arrived, I saw the ISVA role advertised and applied immediately.

    Being a part of the LGBT community myself, it was really important to me to be able to offer support in this specialist area. If you identify as being a part of the LGBT+ community and have ever experienced rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse at ANY point in your life, I am here to help. Sexual violence can affect anyone regardless of their gender identity or what type of relationship they’re in.

    Quoted from the Love is a Rainbow website “Unfortunately; our silence on these matters has meant that criminals and deviants are allowed to continue with their nefarious misdeeds. Nobody is going to challenge the social injustice that we face, unless we ourselves start taking control of the steering wheel. The suffering that we face as a result of sexual violence is individualized and therefore does not inspire the requisite strategic response that has traditionally been used to combat societal problems such as armed robbery.

    The statistics are certainly alarming enough: between 40% and 60% of all women within the LGBT+ community are bound to face at least once incident of physical violence, rape and stalking by an intimate partner. Up to 37% of men within this community will experience similar aggression. The statistics of successful prosecutions are hidden far away from public view. Sometimes it appears that nobody is worried if LGBT+ people become victims of crime. The implicit message is that the community is deserving of such treatment.

    It is also important to emphasize the fact that the LGBT+ community is just like any other. There are misfits and troublemakers. Therefore; it is expected that a few bad eggs will make the cut. The real dilemma is how we can deal with this threat of violence. The fact that the victims are largely silent also reduces the possibilities of challenging those who are trampling on our rights. Suffering in silence has never won us any rights. Indeed, many of the things that we have achieved as a community are directly linked to a certain level of militancy and persistent advocacy.”

    So, how can I support you?

    *Ensure your views, opinions, wishes and needs are understood, respected, listened to and met
    *Inform and support you about your options, concentrating on what you need and want
    *Ensure you understand and receive your legal rights and entitlements if you report to the police
    *Inform you of other options you might have
    *Offer compassionate support to people who are supporting you – your partner, friends and family
    *Arranging appointments, referring you, or possibly going with you, to other support services, such as counselling, domestic abuse and refuge support, drug/alcohol services and health appointments
    *Arranging appointments and referring you to sexual health services via Umbrella Sexual Health
    *Arrange for, and support you to attend SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) if you have been recently assaulted, if police are involved or not, for the possible collection of forensic evidence

    I am here to provide practical and emotional support and help you express your views and wishes. Make sure your voice is heard and you are aware of services you have access to.

    If you are thinking about reporting to the police, I will offer you support throughout the criminal proceedings, which I understand may feel scary but I am here to support you. You call the ISVA office on 0121 643 0301 option 2 or email on

    You are valued and you don’t have to feel you are on your own.

    Posted 16 October 2019
  2. Feeling proud!

    RSVP’s specialist LGBT ISVAs Bev & Mark were at Birmingham Pride 26-27 May and had a lovely time embracing diversity & equality while promoting our specialist service for survivors within the LGBT community. Bev & Mark had a stall set up in the marquee with our Umbrella partners sexual health testing team, Birmingham LGBT centre and Swanswell.


    We enjoyed watching the parade, celebrating 50 yers since decriminalisation of homeosexuality and seeing all the community groups taking part with the colourful fun spirit of the event.; dancing along to the musical floats as they went passed.

    We watched Zara Sykes perform her latest single The Right which is about violence and sexual abuse.

    Bev was in the women’s arena promoting our services to LBT women, who are currently underrepresented.  We hope we reached out to some of the women present, and that people know our services are there for them if ever they need them.

    The increased security were a comforting reassurance following the terrorist attacks in Manchester & London. The silence in honour of those lives lost was a sombre moment yet the LGBT community continued to celebrate acceptance and diversity against the adversity.

    We hope that everyone had a safe & happy pride, and have reached some of the LGBT community who may now feel more comfortable in accessing support following any sexual violence/abuse.

    Posted 14 June 2017
  3. Meet Mark – LGBT ISVA


    The ISVA team with their award, I knew I was being trained by the best, but now it’s official!

    My name is Mark and I am a new member of the ISVA team here at the Rape and Sexual Violence Project. I started working for RSVP at the beginning of August and thought I’d share with you how my first few months have been as well as some information on how I and other members of our team may be able to help you.

    Since starting this role I have had a lot of new experiences, met a diverse range of people and been able to attend some excellent training, including the Lime Culture ISVA Development Programme provided by the UK’s leading sexual violence training company. All of the team have been so supportive and welcoming and I feel so happy working for an excellent organisation. This was particularly celebrated when the ISVA team were presented with the Exceptional ISVA Team award at Lime Culture’s Limelight Awards.  I knew I was being supported and trained by the best, but it is now official!

    So why did I decide to join the team as a specialist ISVA to support the LGBT community? Well I have worked in sexual health for the last ten years and much of my experience has been supporting the LGBT community. I am also a member of the community myself and felt I had a wealth of experience that I can offer to further help and support people. As an LGBT Independent Sexual Violence Advocate I can provide practical and emotional support to anyone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans*who has experienced sexual abuse or violence.

    Anyone can be affected by sexual violence and our great team of ISVA’s can all offer support. However, there are times that someone may feel that they need some specialist support. I hope that myself, and my colleague Bev – the other LGBT ISVA at RSVP – can be there to offer that specific help.

    So why do we have LGBT specific services? Well unfortunately hate crime against the LGBT community continues to remain prevalent in the UK and that includes instances of sexual assault. Stonewall report that:

    “One in six lesbian, gay and bi people have experienced a homophobic or biphobic hate crime or incident over the last three years and that 38 per cent of trans people have experienced physical intimidation and threats” (

    And the Homophobic Hate Crime Report 2013 noted that of these high statistics:

    “One in eight victims experienced unwanted sexual contact.” (

    What is worrying is that “two-thirds of those experiencing a hate crime or incident did not report it to anyone” (

    ISVAs can provide support in a number of ways that can assist anyone who has experienced sexual abuse or violence including:
    • Talking you through your options
    • Ensuring you can access the services and support you need
    • Offering emotional and practical support
    • Enabling you to report to the police if you decide to
    * Exploring other ways you can pass on information about the trauma you have experienced (e.g. anonymously through the Sexual Assault Referral Centre – SARC)
    • Ensuring your well-being, by chaperoning you on health appointments, including sexual health screenings

    If you feel that any of these services may be useful for you, you can contact an LGBT ISVA by calling 0121 643 0301 option 2 or directly on 07983 555598 (Mark) or 07535172052 (Bev)






    Posted 1 December 2016
  4. New LGBT ISVA service

    RSVP and Birmingham LGBT have partnered up  with the Umbrella sexual health service to deliver a new advocacy service for the LGBT community. Bev Higgins writes about her new role as LGBT ISVA.

    I became an ISVA to help survivors to have their say, and get the help and support to overcome the impact of sexual abuse, and not face prejudice or mistreatment. As a member of the LGBT community myself and as a professional, I have a wealth of knowledge and experience of the impact and trauma of any sexual abuse on LGBT people. I am passionate about developing and providing this much needed service.


    If you are lesbian, gay, bi, trans* and have ever experienced rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse at any point in your life the Rape and Sexual Violence Project (RSVP) now can offer you our specialist LGBT ISVA services within the Birmingham LGBT community. (*Including but not exclusive list- non binary, non cis, gender queer, MSM, androgynous, intersex, pansexual…)

    An ISVA will offer a caring and professional service providing practical advice and emotional support to those who have been directly impacted by rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse. The abuse could be recent, in the past or ongoing.

    Rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse are experienced by a significant percentage of the population and are prevalent in the LGBT community too. Sexual abuse of any nature is a very hidden problem and can be an extremely difficult issue to talk about. The LGBT community often are overlooked or misunderstood and can face prejudice and extra fears around speaking to professionals and organisations when seeking help and support. Rape and abuse against LGBT people can occur in relationships, they can occur as homophobic hate-crimes, childhood sexual abuse and as sexual harassment. Research suggests that the LGBT community experiences disproportionate level of sexual violence.

    Support is available; we are here to offer you an advocacy service delivered with compassion, professionalism and humanity. We want to make a difference to you and help overcome the barriers that prevent sexual abuse survivors who identify as LGBT from getting the help and support they need.

    Our service is free and is inclusive of all sexuality and gender identities. Everyone is treated fairly, equally and with value and respect. We embrace diversity, promoting equality and human rights for all. We are passionate about helping survivors to thrive and are a user lead service. We are here for you, and so will tailor the support to your individual needs. We understand you may feel nervous getting in touch and it takes a lot of courage to take that step. We will support you every step of the way.

    How can we help?
    • Talking you through your options
    • Ensuring you can access the services and support you need
    • Offering emotional and practical support
    • Enabling you to report to the police if you decide to
    * Exploring other ways you can pass on information about the trauma you have experienced (e.g. anonymously through the Sexual Assault Referral Centre – SARC)
    • Ensuring your wellbeing, by chaperoning you on health appointments, including sexual health screenings

    What is sexual violence? 

    The term sexual violence is used as a broad term for all forms of rape and sexual abuse. Rape and sexual abuse might involve physical violence, coercion, threats and control.
    Often rape and sexual abuse is committed by people you know, such as partners, friends, family, acquaintances, and people in positions of trust. You may feel love for the person who has abused/is abusing you. You may be befriended and offered things in return for sexual acts, you could have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol to such an extent you couldn’t consent. You may feel coerced or pressured into doing sexual things you don’t want to. You may be pressured/ forced into sexual acts with other people.

    Being groomed?
    Abusers can seem very charming and well liked, they will gain your trust and those around you. You may think people won’t believe you, we will. You may be terrified and living in fear, we can help.

    If you are being forced, pressured or coerced into sexual activities, you can contact us. You don’t have to suffer in silence or cope alone – we’re here for you.

    To contact the LGBT ISVA service speak to Bev via:
    Tel: 0121 643 0301 option 2
    Mob: 07535 172 052


    Umbrella sexual health_0

    Posted 7 June 2016

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