Help and support for those experiencing or know someone experiencing sexual violence.

Live Fear Free Helpline

Live Fear Free can provide help and advice to:

  • anyone experiencing sexual violence
  • anyone who knows someone who needs help. For example, a friend, family member or colleague
  • practitioners seeking professional advice.

All conversations with Live Fear Free are confidential and are taken by staff that are highly experienced and fully trained.

Call: 0800 80 10 800

Available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
About the helpline

Text: 07860077333

Available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
About the text service

Email: info@livefearfreehelpline.wales

Available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
About the email service

Live chat service

Common questions

About sexual violence

What is sexual violence

Sexual violence is any sexual act or activity which is unwanted and which has not been consented to. Sexual violence can affect anyone, at any stage of their lives.

Types of sexual violence?

Any sexual act which has not been consented to can be classed as sexual violence and can include:

  • rape
  • sexual assault
  • child sexual abuse
  • incest
  • sexual harassment
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • trafficking
  • sexual exploitation
  • ritual abuse.

Who can be affected by sexual violence?

Who are the victims of sexual violence?

Anyone can become a victim of sexual violence, at any stage of their life. A victim may experience one incident of sexual violence or many.

Who are the perpetrators of sexual violence?

There is no such thing as a typical perpetrator of sexual violence. A perpetrator may be any age and can be a man or a woman. They may be well known to the victim, an acquaintance or a complete stranger.

Who is to blame for sexual violence?

The perpetrator of sexual violence is always to blame. It does not matter what the victim is wearing, where they are, how much alcohol they have drunk or drugs they may have taken. If someone has not agreed to what has happened to them a crime has been committed.

Help and support

Professionals that can help

There is help available if you are experiencing abuse, or if you are looking for help for a family member or friend.

If you think someone is in immediate danger or you need help in an emergency –call the police on 999. If there is no immediate danger, call the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 for free and confidential support and advice.

Talking about abuse

Sometimes, talking about abuse is very difficult because people feel ashamed, embarrassed or scared. Sometimes it is because making changes seems too complicated or even impossible. Seeking help can be particularly difficult where children are involved.

Most people find that experiencing domestic abuse or sexual violence seriously damages their confidence and self-esteem. Survivors of abuse may feel that they are not worth the effort or think that they have done something to cause the abuse. This is not true: the only person responsible for the abuse is the perpetrator.  

Some people may feel that their personal circumstances limit what help they could seek whereas others may fear being disbelieved or rejected if they seek help.

People with insecure immigration status may fear deportation although there is specialist help available in these circumstances.

Who should be able to help?

Help is out there. Whether you are seeking support for yourself or if you are a friend or family member concerned about another person, consider speaking to :

  • GP
  • health visitor
  • midwife 
  • police
  • citizens advice bureau
  • employer.

Or call the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 8010 800 for free, 24-hour, confidential service  for anyone in Wales needing help for domestic abuse and sexual violence – victims, their family, friends, colleagues or others calling on their behalf.

Local specialist domestic abuse and sexual violence services

You may also want to find out if there is a local support service, which could offer you help, advocacy and counselling, and a place of safety if needed.

Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC)

If you have recently been raped or sexually assaulted you may want to consider getting medical help as soon as possible because of the risk of pregnancy and STIs. There are special facilities called SARCs where you can receive the support you may need.

In a SARC you will be supported by a Crisis Worker and given the opportunity to see a forensic medical examiner. You will also be given support to report what has happened to you to the police, if this is what you want to do. There is also specialist help and advice available from an advocate who can offer support and will stay with you throughout the process.

You can find the nearest SARC to you, in Wales by calling the Live Fear Free Helpline.

Safe houses and refuge

Local domestic abuse and violence against women services in Wales can support you (and your children if you have any) with a range of support to meet your needs. They can offer support with a range of issues including;

  • Housing
  • legal issues
  • immigration
  • support through the justice system,
  • finance and debt,
  • health and wellbeing,
  • accessing education, employment, learning and skills
  • access to counselling support.

Some services offer independent domestic violence advisers (IDVAs) for those at high risk of harm.

Service available may include:

Emergency accommodation (refuge)

Refuge is a safe house where people who are experiencing domestic abuse can stay free from abuse, either in a crisis or to help them move on and recover from abuse.

The type of refuge your local service offers can vary. Most refuges in Wales accommodate around 3-6 families at a time (women with children and those without children). Some refuges consist of self-contained family units but most will give you your own room to share with your children, whilst sharing other rooms (the living room, kitchen, playroom, etc.) with the other refuge residents. 

Access to refuge is available via the Live fear free helpline or your local group and is available 24 hours a day/365 days a year. There is a UK wide network of refuges so, subject to availability, you can choose whether you stay somewhere away from your home, or remain in the same area. The refuge provider will carry out their own individual assessments.

There are refuges for Women and Men in Wales. 

Community based support (outreach or floating support)

Specialist support and advocacy for victims/survivors living within the community to help people move-on and stay safe, to achieve longer term independence and free from abuse.

Educational and prevention group programmes

Many services run a variety of group programmes aimed at supporting women after experiencing domestic abuse to reduce their isolation, increase confidence and help recover from their experiences of violence and abuse.

Children and young people services

Many services also provide support for children and young people who have been affected by domestic abuse. A range of age-appropriate programmes are available for supporting children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse and for mothers and children to help rebuild their relationships.

Help for domestic abuse perpetrators

Some services in Wales deliver accredited perpetrator programmes to challenge, manage risk, and change behaviour of abusers. 

Help with housing

If you are experiencing domestic abuse or sexual violence you may wish to consider changing your living arrangements.

Staying in your own home

If you want to stay in your own home you could get an injunction to keep your abuser away from you and an occupation order to exclude them from the property. If it is felt that you are at risk of attack in your own home, you may be eligible for ‘target hardening’ work to be carried out to increase the security in your home.

If you are in social rented housing your social landlord should be able to work with you and advise how your abusive partner can be removed from the tenancy agreement and out of the property.  

Leaving your property and finding alternative accommodation

If you are experiencing domestic abuse or sexual violence, you may wish to consider leaving the home that you share with the abusive partner. There are a number of options available to you if you feel that leaving the home will help to keep you and your children safe.

You may wish to speak to one of the specialist services in Wales who will be able to provide you with further information on refuges or provide you with further advice on your housing options and help you to keep safe whilst making these decisions.  

Refuges/Supported Accommodation

If you feel that you have to leave your home urgently because your partner or family member is threatening you, you may be able  to move into a refuge/supported accommodation. These are safe, confidential places to stay with experienced staff that can help you. In an emergency you can ask the police or Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA) to help you find support or alternative accommodation such as a refuge/supported accommodation.

Homelessness Application

If you feel you have to leave your home because of the risk of violence or abuse and / or are in immediate danger your Local Authority Housing Department may have a duty to provide assistance to you and your household.

Part 2 Housing (Wales) Act 2014 places duties on Local Authorities to assess the needs of households who may be homeless or threatened with homelessness within the next 56 days.

Persons who are homeless as a result of domestic abuse should be provided emergency accommodation during the assessment stage. Following the assessment, if the Local Authority is satisfied that they owe the household a duty to provide help, the Local Authority must take reasonable steps to help resolve your housing problems.

Housing Associations and Registered Social Landlords

If you want to apply for social housing as a new applicant, you can register directly with a housing association or local authority in your area. Depending on availability you may have to wait some time for a suitable property to become available. However victims of domestic abuse can be a priority for re-housing depending upon individual circumstances.  

Information on which housing associations operate in your area can be found from your local authority, contact details for all local authorities can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Transfer/exchange

If you are already renting a social housing property and you are the sole name on your tenancy you could apply for a transfer or mutual exchange. This is where you swap your home with another tenant. Your landlord will be able to give you further information on how the scheme works. The national HomeSwap Direct scheme can make it easier for tenants living in a Councill or housing association home to find a new property in another part of the country. This is a system across the whole of the UK, meaning that tenants looking to move should be able to see all available homes across the UK, not just those on the website subscribed to by their current social landlord.

Private Rented Housing

If you are living in private rented housing you can give notice and move out of your property at the end of the tenancy. Your tenancy agreement will tell you how much notice you have to give the landlord. You can also find your own private rented housing to move to. However many landlords will ask for a deposit before you can move in.

Rent

If you receive Housing Benefit and have left your address because of domestic violence and abuse you can apply for an overlap to cover both your original and temporary addresses for a short time while you sort things out, so long as you intend to return to your home address when it is safe to do so.

Help for children

Keeping children safe

Living with domestic or sexual violence is always harmful to children.

No parent or carer experiencing these issues or  their children need to face domestic or sexual violence alone.  Anyone who is worried about a child can call the NSPCC free, 24 hour Helpline on 0808 800 5000.

What are the Consequences of Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is always devastating and those involved need support. Victims feel isolated, frightened, angry and upset, confused, powerless, tired and depressed, ashamed, and guilty. Those who have lived with an abusive partner may be unable to give their children all the care and attention they would like, and might lose sight of their children's physical and emotional needs.

Effects on Children

Domestic abuse can have a very damaging effect on children and young people who often know a lot more about what’s going on than you realise. It is very common for children to see or overhear physical violence, and they will also be able to pick up on how your partner treats you more generally. Children can get caught in the middle of domestic violence situations, and it can be very confusing and upsetting for them.  

Sometimes children can blame themselves for the violence, and they may hide their feelings and problems. It can have a serious impact on a child’s behaviour and wellbeing, even if they’re not directly harmed themselves.

Children who have witnessed domestic violence are often:

  • afraid 
  • withdrawn 
  • angry 
  • lacking in confidence 
  • suffering from health or sleeping problems 
  • struggling at school 
  • ashamed to bring friends home 
  • violent or showing other behaviour problems 
  • physically hurt or abused.

What can I do to help keep my child safe?

Talk to your children, if you can, and listen to how they feel. Understanding how they feel might help you make a decision about the best thing for you to do.

Asking for help and support will protect your children. Children are able to recover from the effects of domestic violence as long as they know they are safe and no longer feel afraid.

Support provided by the NSPCC

The NSPCC also offers a Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together (DART) service, through which children and their mothers can talk to each other about domestic abuse, and learn to communicate and rebuild their relationship. To find out if DART is offered in your area visit the NSPCC website.

If you're worried about a child, contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.

Support available for children

ChildLine provides help and support for children and young people. It's a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of 19.

The ChildLine website and Helpline are always available for information and support on issues like domestic and sexual abuse.

Domestic violence is when a grown up threatens, bullies, or hurts another adult in the family. Sometimes it’s called domestic abuse. It can happen between parents, married couples, girlfriends and boyfriends, in gay or lesbian relationships, or after a couple has split up. Domestic violence can happen to anybody.

How does domestic violence affect you?

Even if the violence at home isn't aimed at you, it doesn't mean you don't get hurt too. If you’re in the same or next room when the violence is going on this can be extremely upsetting. Seeing or hearing domestic violence between adults that look after you is wrong.

You might also have been hurt or bullied as part of the domestic violence and feel worried about your own safety. Talking about how you feel can really help you to cope. ChildLine is always here for young people whenever they need to talk.

What can I do to make it stop?

The most important thing you can do is to keep yourself safe. Domestic violence isn’t your fault, and it’s not down to you to stop the fighting, violence or abuse. Don’t try to step in to stop violence or abuse - this could put you in danger.

The most helpful thing you can do is to talk to a trusted adult about what is happening. If you are worried for your own safety it is important that you talk to somebody as soon as you can. ChildLine is a safe space for you to talk about how you feel and to think about safety plans.

If you feel it’s safe, tell your parents how you feel about what's happening at home. They may not realise that you know what is happening or how scary it is.

The ChildLine website contains all of this information and more. You can visit the website for advice on what domestic abuse is, information about the different types of abuse, where to get help and steps to take to keep safe. There are also lots of links to other sources of support.

Children and young people can call ChildLine at any time on 0800 1111 to speak to a counsellor. Calls are free and confidential. You can also send an email or have a one to one chat online.

Children in unsafe relationships

Domestic abuse can happen in any relationship, and it affects young people too. If you are worried about a child, or you work with children and need advice or information, call the NSPCC’s Helpline on 0808 800 5000.

Unfortunately abuse in relationships between young people under 16 does occur and that for both boys and girls, physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse can be experienced from their partners. Research shows one in five teenagers have been physically abused by their boyfriends or girlfriends.

  • A survey with young people aged 13-17, across England, Scotland and Wales, showed that 21% of young people said they had been physically abused by their partners.
  • The NSPCC also surveyed young people accessing the Childline website from February to March 2013, and found that 40% of those who had been in a relationship had experienced some type of abuse in the relationship. 25% of who had experienced abuse said it happened too many times to remember.
  • Research focusing on children’s own views and experiences of the negotiation of gender, sexual identity and relationships, has shown that verbal sexual harassment is not uncommon in children’s boyfriend-girlfriend cultures, but few children can talk about it with a parent or teacher.  

The Warning Signs

Some of the common signs of relationship abuse for children and young people are:

  • physical signs of injury 
  • missing school 
  • grades / marking of school work may fall
  • changes in behaviour, mood and personality, becoming withdrawn and passive
  • depression 
  • bullying or being bullied 
  • isolation from family and friends 
  • inappropriate sexual behaviour, language or attitudes 
  • self-harm, eating disorders, problems with sleeping 
  • use of drugs and alcohol (especially where these haven’t been used before).

This list is not exhaustive and children and young people may respond differently to relationship abuse, or these could be indicators of other issues they are facing.

NSPCC Tools for Parents/Professionals

ATL and the NSPCC have also developed guidance to assist professionals and trusted adults on how to support a young person who is experiencing relationship abuse in developing a safety plan that meets the young person’s needs. Accessed via the ATL website. This guidance is in English only.

A useful safety plan template is also available on the Childline website. This document is in English only.

Advice for Parents and Professionals

Domestic abuse in relationships can have significant detrimental impacts on children and young people’s health and wellbeing. That’s why it’s important to know what to do if you are worried, or if a child reveals they are in an unsafe relationship. By being prepared, and knowing what help is available, you can make a real difference to a child's safety and wellbeing.

If you are worried about a child, or a child reveals violent abuse in their relationship, the NSPCC Helpline is open 24 hours a day on 0808 800 5000 and trained counsellors will be able to take your call and offer advice and support.

Other Sources of Support

ChildLine – 0800 1111

ChildLine is a private and confidential, 24 hour service for children and young people up to the age of 19. The ChildLine website also signposts a range of other sources of support and information on relationship abuse for young people.