Who else can I talk to?
Recovery from abuse is always possible at any stage in life. Find out how you can access support that is right for you.
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Support services for adult survivors of any type of childhood abuse and neglect are available but are not always easy to find or access. Waiting lists are common, both in the NHS and voluntary sector. Some services are focused on sexual abuse and do not specifically address physical or emotional abuse.
However, knowledge about the different types of childhood abuse and trauma-informed practice is gradually growing and we have seen improvements in many areas.
Support can come in many different forms. Think about what it is you really need. It doesn’t have to be (just) talking therapy. Yoga or other movement or complementary therapies, psycho-education, and peer support can help recovery for many people.
This page is aimed at helping you understand your options of finding support in the voluntary, statutory and private sectors in the UK.
It is a good idea to check before you start with any form of support what the provider’s position is on confidentiality on non-recent abuse cases, as well as letting you decide if and when you make a report to the police.
Charities which are set up specifically to serve survivors of abuse usually offer services free of charge or in line with your ability to pay. Their staff are more likely to have a deep understanding of the impact of abuse and some are survivor-led organisations. Survivors often report that they feel listened to, believed and better served when engaging with voluntary sector organisations.
Voluntary sector organisations can often be more flexible than the NHS in their approaches to recovery. However, they are less regulated than the public or private sector and rely heavily on grant funding, which means service provision can be inconsistent.
The Survivors Trust
The Survivors Trust is a national umbrella agency for over 130 specialist voluntary sector rape and sexual abuse support services throughout the UK and Ireland, providing support and counselling for adults, young people and children who have experienced rape, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation at any time in their lives. The Survivors Trust website offers a directory of these organisations, listed by location. Find support in your area.
Rape Crisis England & Wales
Rape Crisis England & Wales is a national charity and the umbrella body for a network of independent member Rape Crisis Centres.
Rape Crisis centres offer a range of support, advocacy, counselling and information to people who have experienced sexual violence at any time in their lives. Many are women-only safe spaces. Some also provide services for male sexual violence survivors. Find your nearest Rape Crisis Centre and details of the services it offers
Rape Crisis Scotland
Local rape crisis centres provide emotional and practical support, information and advocacy to anyone affected by sexual violence. The abuse may have happened recently or in the past. They offer a safe and non-threatening environment where you can talk freely and in confidence about what has happened. Find your nearest Rape Crisis Centre and details of the services it offers
Nexus Northern Ireland
Offers counselling to those affected by sexual violence. Find out more about Nexus NI
The national mental health charity also has 140 local Mind associations (independent, affiliated charities) which provide services such as supported housing, floating support schemes, care homes, drop-in centres and self-help support groups. Find your local Mind branch and details of the services it offers.
HAVOCA is a web-based organisation aimed at providing support, friendship and advice for any adult whose life has been affected by childhood abuse. HAVOCA hosts a secure online forum for survivors to connect with and learn from each other. HAVOCA’s Survivor Forums
Future Pathways, Scotland
Future Pathways (FP) offers support to people who were abused or neglected as children while they were living in a residential setting in Scotland, such as a care home, boarding school, hospital, foster care or young offenders’ institute. FP is supported by funding from the Scottish Government.
Services include counselling, psychological trauma support, community activities, housing and benefit advice, access to records and funding for education. These services are available even if the survivor no longer lives in Scotland. Future Pathways
The NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) is a charity campaigning and working in child protection in the United Kingdom and Channel Islands. Anyone who is concerned that a child is being abused or neglected can call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 for guidance on what to do. NSPCC – What to do if you suspect child abuse
The NHS offers free services nationwide and is best placed to support you when you are in crisis – that is, if you pose a risk to yourself or others.
However, abuse survivors who do not fall into this category can face long waiting times to access mostly time-limited therapies. Moreover, specialist knowledge about the impact of abuse and trauma-informed practice varies widely across departments and locations.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is becoming more widely available on the NHS. It is most effective in treating one-off or short-term trauma resulting in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However it is less effective when a person was abused over a long period of time and from a young age, which typically leads to symptoms grouped as Complex PTSD. Find out more about EMDR or NHS treatment suggestions for Complex PTSD.
Even if you had negative experiences with the NHS in the past, we always recommend that you try again to find the right person to work with. Your first access point will typically be your GP or IAPT (Improved Access to Psychological Therapy) services. Review NHS Choices for more information.
Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCS)
Sexual assault referral centres offer medical, practical and emotional support to anyone who has been sexually assaulted or raped. Some SARCs work with non-recent sexual violence cases, but others do not. The local centres are designed to be comfortable and multi-functioning and employ specially trained doctors and counsellors.
You don’t have to report the assault to police if you don’t want to. However, if you are considering reporting the abuse you suffered to the police, they can arrange for you to have an informal talk with a specially trained police officer who can explain what’s involved. Find out more about SARCs.
Therapists and counsellors
If you can afford to pay for private therapy, there are many good therapists and counsellors who have been specially trained in addressing childhood abuse and trauma. Many offer a sliding scale of charges in line with your ability to pay.
We cannot recommend individual therapists (because only you can decide who is right for you), but below are the main national organisations that represent accredited therapists and counsellors. Their websites include directories of practitioners and allow you to filter your search for someone who has experience working with abuse survivors.
You may not find the right person in your first attempt or you may have had negative experiences in the past. We encourage you to try again until you find someone you can trust and work with.
• The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
• UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
• The National Counselling Society (NCS)
• The Echo Society has counsellors with expertise in narcissistic abuse
• PODS lists counsellors who support people who have suffered trauma and developed a dissociative disorder
• The Counselling Directory advertises counsellors and psychotherapists, if they are registered with an overseeing professional body. It has a list of counsellors who can work over Skype.