Support for Older Womenadmin2021-05-27T10:31:20+00:00
We support women of all ages who have experienced sexual violence at any time in their life.
It’s difficult to tell someone about an experience of rape or sexual abuse at any age. We understand that, for a lot of older people, telling someone what happened may be especially difficult for a number of different reasons including embarrassment, feeling ashamed or confused, or not being sure who can help.
You may have experienced something 50 years ago, 5 years ago or 5 days ago. At SARSAS, we are here to listen, believe and support you. It’s never too late to get the support that you deserve.
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. The impact of sexual violence can be devastating.
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.
Coping through the Coronavirus pandemic
Through our work with older women victim-survivors, we know that the impact of lockdowns, self-isolation and shielding can bring extra challenges for some older women. SARSAS has recently joined the Coronavirus Support Hub for older people across Avon and Somerset.
The Support Hub provides a range of different support for older people via their helpline, including practical support, emotional support and virtual Activities. There is lots of really useful information and details on how to contact them on their website: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/bristol/our-services/support-hub/#
Information for professionals and supporters
We have developed a guide for people who work with or support older women. The guide includes information on:
Trauma, older women and the impact of sexual violence
How to respond to someone making a disclosure of sexual violence
What we know about older women and their experiences of sexual violence
We have also developed a leaflet for older women who have experienced rape or sexual abuse at any time in their life. This leaflet contains information on sexual violence and how to access specialist support.
It is a myth that only younger women are 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.
SARSAS 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 2020/21. 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.
Want to talk?
Our two helplines have been combined. Anyone can call either line at anytime.
0808 801 0456
0808 801 0464
Mon and Fri: 11am – 2pm,
Tue, Wed and Thu: 6pm – 8pm