It’s difficult to disclose rape and sexual abuse – sexual violence – at any age and we know from talking to older women that this can be a particularly sensitive subject. Rape and sexual abuse can happen at any time in your life. It is more common than you may think and 1 in 5 women in the UK will have experienced rape or sexual abuse in their lifetime. We know many older women will have experienced sexual violence multiple times over their lifetime.

Women have spoken to us about how they can feel shame, embarrassment, humiliation, self-blame and fear about telling others what has happened. Sexual violence is a deeply personal trauma and may involve someone you know abusing you. It can take place in many places including your own home as well as residential, care and nursing homes environments.

Many older women have lived through a time when sexual violence was downplayed and normalised to the point of acceptance. Today, some women will look back at what happened to them and dismiss it as ‘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.  There is no expectation that you ‘should be over it’.

If you have experienced rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment or unwanted touching whether recently or in the past, you are not alone and you deserve help. When you feel ready there are people who can support you at SARSAS and the information on this website is here for you and we detail how we will listen, believe and support you here and our self-help guide booklets can be found 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.

Our partnership published in January 2020, its findings on a survey and research we undertook to gather information on sexual violence experienced by local women, at any time in their life, who are now aged 55 and over. 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.

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.

0808 801 0456

0808 801 0464

Mon & Fri 11am – 2pm,
Tue, Wed and Thu 6pm – 8:30pm

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.

What to expect when you call

Want to talk?

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

0808 801 0456

0808 801 0464

Mon – Fri 11am – 2pm,
Tue, Wed & Thu 6.30pm – 8pm

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