It’s difficult to tell someone about an experience of rape or sexual abuse – sexual violence – at any age. At SARSAS, we  know, from talking to older women, that this can be a particularly sensitive subject.

It is a myth that only younger women and raped, sexually assaulted or sexually abused. Women can experience rape and sexual abuse at any time in their life. It is more common than you may think. 1 in 5 women in the UK have experienced rape or sexual abuse and many older women will have experienced sexual violence multiple times throughout their life.

Sexual violence can cause a range of physical and emotional impacts for the victim-survivor, including physical injuries and bruising, mental health difficulties and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sexual violence is a deeply personal trauma and may involve someone you know abusing you. Sexual violence can be perpetrated in many places, including  your own home as well as residential, care and nursing homes environments.

We know that many older women  feel shame, embarrassment, humiliation, self-blame and fear about telling others what has happened. In the past, awareness about sexual violence was limited and, often, accepted as part of life. Some women will look back at what happened to them and feel it was ‘not serious enough’. Other women who experienced sexual violence as a child or in younger adulthood may think, “It happened years ago; I should be ‘over it by now’”. This is not true. It was serious enough and you have the right to access support for your experience.

If you have experienced rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment or unwanted touching, at any time in your life, we are here to listen, believe and support you. Our services are available for women of all ages. You can find more information on the services we offer here.

There is lots of useful information in our self-help guide which may help you understand and process your own reactions to your experience. You can access it here.

The Chilling Silence Project

Funded by comic ReliefSARSAS is part of the South West Rape Crisis Centre Partnership working on a project across the region to raise awareness of sexual violence against older women and to bring about change. The project is funded by Comic Relief.

In January 2020, the partnership published its findings from a survey and research on the needs and experiences of women within the South West, aged 55 and over, who have experienced sexual violence.  Our report, The Chilling Silence, highlights our local and national findings and makes recommendations on how local police forces, local authorities, local aged care and statutory organisations can help affected older women in the region. You can read the report here.

Our awareness campaign and training will be rolled out over 2020. If you would like to get involved in helping develop services for older women, we want to hear from you. For further information on the project, awareness campaign, posters and training please contact us.

Older women deserve help too

Want to talk?

From Monday 23 March our two helplines will be combined. Anyone can call either line at anytime.

Call

0808 801 0456

0808 801 0464

Mon and Fri: 11am - 2pm, Tue, Wed and Thu: 6pm - 8pm

Live Chat

Tue and Thu: 12noon - 2pm

What to expect when you call

These lines are open to all.  Girls, boys, women and men can call either of our two helplines. Trans and non-binary callers  are welcome.

Want to talk?

From Monday 23 March our two helplines will be combined. Anyone can call either line at anytime.

Call

0808 801 0456

0808 801 0464

Mon and Fri: 11am - 2pm, Tue, Wed and Thu: 6pm - 8pm

Live Chat

Tue and Thu: 12noon - 2pm

What to expect when you call

These lines are open to all. Girls, boys, women and men can call either of our two helplines. Trans and non-binary callers  are welcome.

Listening, believing & supporting