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Sexual Violence

Information, advice and support for Bristol residents

Sexual violence

Has your partner or anyone else forced you to have sex or forced sexual acts onto you? Have you felt too worried or scared to say no to sex or sexual acts? Sexual assault includes lots of forms of violence, not just being forced into penetrative sex (the legal definition of rape). It can be anything from being forced into sex to being groped in a bar or shouted at in the street. Sexual violence includes any touching that you don’t want or that makes you feel uncomfortable, including when you don’t feel able to say no.

Sexual violence is never your fault, no matter what you were wearing, who you were with, where you went, or how much you had been drinking. The person who commits the assault is always to blame for making the choice to commit assault.


Sexual harassment

If you are experiencing any unwanted attention that is sexual such as touching, groping, name calling, or sexual comments, you may be experiencing sexual harassment. Sexual Harassment can take place anywhere. It can happen in your workplace, at school, online or in the street.

Sexual harassment is any unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature and can be perpetrated by people you know such as a partner, colleague or friend, or by a stranger. Sexual harassment can be threatening, and can make you feel very uncomfortable.

Sexual Harassment can be:

Comments about your body, name calling, unwelcome propositions, threats (whether carried out or not) and sexual jokes that you find offensive can all be sexual harassment.

Sexual notes, letters or texts, threatening or sexual e-mails and social media messages can be sexual harassment.

Unwanted touching, grabbing, rubbing, sexual gestures or threatening staring can be sexual harassment

If you are experiencing sexual harassment at work, you have a legal right under the Equality Act 2010 to take action. If you feel you have been sacked or forced to resign from your job as a result of harassment, you may also have a claim for unfair dismissal.


Report it

Abuse and violence is not acceptable. If you or someone you know is a victim, report it and get help.

Call 999 if a crime is happening now or you're in immediate danger.

If you can’t use a voice phone, you can register with the police text service – text REGISTER to 999.  You will get a text which tells you what to do next.  Do this when it is safe so you can text when you are in danger.

If you need urgent police help through the 999 service but cannot speak call 999, you will be connected to a phone operator who will ask which service you need.

On a mobile:

  • if you can’t speak but the operator hears something suspicious, they’ll connect you to a police call handler
  • if you can make some noise, whispering for example, the operator will connect you to the police
  • if you can’t speak, and the operator can ’t tell what service you need, they’ll transfer you to the Silent Solution system. This runs a 20 second automated message, and that will ask you to press 55, to be put through to the police

On a landline phone:

  • if you cannot speak and the operator can hear only background noise, they’ll connect your call to the police

How to report it if you are not in immediate danger:

StreetSafe is a pilot service for anyone to anonymously tell the police about public places where they have felt or feel unsafe. This can because of environmental issues like street lighting or vandalism. It can also be because of behaviours like being followed or verbally abused.


Advice and support

Call 999 if a crime is happening now, or if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.

If you think you are experiencing any type of abuse, it is important to remember that it is not your fault and that there is support available.

If you are unsure, go with your instincts, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You may feel alone and that no-one can help you; but many people experience abuse and there are many services that can provide support.

You can speak to your teacher, GP, work colleague or any other trusted professional. Speaking to someone about what you are going through can help you to feel less alone and can support you in understanding your options.

A personal safety plan is a way of helping you to protect yourself. It helps you plan in advance for the possibility of future violence and abuse. It also helps you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave. Read Womensaid Personal Safety Plan


The Survivor Pathway

An online resource for anyone wanting to know more about specialist sexual violence support services in the South West.

National Rape Crisis Helpline

The National Rape Crisis Helpline offers confidential emotional support, information and referral details. The helpline is open between 12:00 - 14:30 and 19:00 - 21:30 every day of the year. Call them on 0808 802 9999.

The Bridge

The Bridge is a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), they offer medical care, emotional and psychological support, and practical help to anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted. Call them for free and confidential advice on 0117 342 6999, they are open 24/7, 365 days a year.

SARSAS (Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support)

SARSAS is for anyone who has experienced any sexual violence, at any time in their lives. They offer a help line, one to one support sessions, counselling and e-support.

Call 0808 801 0456 or 0808 801 0464. They are open Monday & Friday: 11am – 2pm, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 6pm – 8pm. Email:

SARSAS Support for Older Women - SARSAS support older women who have experienced sexual violence at any time in their life.

SARSAS Learning Disabilities and Autism Project - SARSAS offer a specialist service for survivors of sexual violence and abuse who have a learning disability, communication support needs and/or Autism.

Safe Link Rape and Sexual Assault Service

Independent sexual violence advisors are here to help you with the practical and emotional support you need to put your life back together. Safe Link cover the whole of the Avon and Somerset area and work with Women, Men and Children. They have a dedicated worker to support victims with learning disabilities. Call them on 0333 323 1543 or email  

The Green House Bristol

Offers a specialist free counselling and psychotherapy service to women, men and children who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse or rape at any time in their life. Call 0117 935 1707, text 07378 905183 or email


Offer a confidential counselling service to men and women over the age of 16 who have experienced sexual abuse or rape. They provide a safe, accepting and supportive environment to talk about the past, enjoy the present and look forward to the future. Call 0117 908 7712.


A confidential and professional counselling and helpline service for women who have been sexually abused or raped. Call 0345 458 2914 or 0117 916 6461 or email

Survivors UK

Support for any man, boy or non-binary person who has ever experienced unwanted sexual activity. Call or text 0203 598 3898, or chat online between 12pm – 8pm every day.

Victim Support

The national charity giving free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, their family, friends and anyone else affected across England and Wales. Call 0845 30 30 900.

Victim Support can also support anyone experiencing image-based sexual abuse (sometimes referred to as ‘revenge porn’). On the Victim Support website, you can find advice about how to stay safe online.


When sexual harassment is perpetrated by a stranger in a public place, it is often called ‘Street Harassment’. This can be very threatening and scary and many women report experiencing some form of street harassment. Street Harassment is the focus of an international campaign called Hollaback.

Rights of Women Legal Helpline

Provides information to anyone experiencing sexual harassment at work. Call 020 7490 0152, the helpline is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 3pm – 5pm and 6 – 8pm.

Revenge Porn Helpline

The Revenge Porn Helpline supports all adult victims of intimate image abuse in the UK. Call 0345 6000 459, email, or use Whisper, the anonymous reporting form.


Further resources

This Is Not An Excuse - website with resources for anyone experiencing domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault or child sexual exploitation. 

Rape Crisis England & Wales – can help you find your local Rape Crisis Centre in England and Wales. The website has lots of information about sexual violence and self-help tools.

PausePlayStop website – information about consent, including a quiz.

Where is your line? - YouTube video from The Havens (London).

SARSAS self help guides – available in five languages, an Easy Read version and guide for supporting a person you care about.

Surviving Rape Easy Read – an Easy Read guide from Change People.

Sexual Abuse of Girls Easy Read – an Easy Read guide from Change People.

Dealing with a Crisis Easy Read - an Easy Read guide from Change People.

Unlocking sexual abuse guide for carers and staff - a guide for family, carers and anyone supporting adults with learning disabilities who have been sexually abused. Produced by Enable Scotland.

Surviving Sexual Abuse - an Easy Read guide explaining what you can do if you think you have been sexually abused. Produced by Enable Scotland.

Glitch - a charity ending online abuse. Glitch have created resources for everyone who uses the internet to encourage them to become Online Active Bystanders.

Our Streets Now - a national campaign demanding an end to public sexual harassment through awareness and education and by campaigning to change legislation.

Bristol Nights - It’s Not Okay campaign is designed to call out bad behaviours and communicate Bristol's zero-tolerance policy to harassment of women. The Women’s Night Safety Charter, organisations can sign up to the charter to improve the safety of women who work in, and enjoy the night-time economy.

SARSAS information about online abuse - including sexting, sexual abuse and exploitation and image-based abuse.