Student to launch listening service for victims of sexual assault

A new listening service, which supports female survivors of sexual violence, is being set up by a Swansea University student.

Listening service

The service has been set up by Leah Gray, a third year student who is studying at Swansea University’s Medical School. She has a background in working with similar helplines in both Oxford and Manchester.

The weekly service is intended to provide listening support for survivors of sexual violence – recent or historical - in south Wales.  

Leah recognised that there was need for a listening service in south Wales. Sexual violence is commonplace; approximately 88,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year1 and over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year1.

While there is a sexual assault referral centre (SARC) in Swansea, New Pathways, where survivors of recent sexual assault can seek professional support, counselling and if requested, medical examinations and police interviews, there are no sexual abuse listening helplines of this type in the area.

Leah said: “Callers can expect to receive a non-directive, non-judgemental listening service which is completely confidential. It is not meant as a counselling or advice service and is not connected to the police or any other third part organisation. Our volunteers are there to listen and support.”

The service will be run by female volunteers, who have been specially selected and comprehensively trained. The free listening helpline will run every Wednesday from 6.30 pm until 8.30 pm from the 30th March.

Leah has received a generous donation from the Welsh Association of Sexual and Contraceptive Health (WASCH) and said ‘I am extremely grateful to both WASCH and the amazing volunteers because without the donation and the volunteers’ dedication this service would not be possible’.

Clinical Associate Professor in Public Mental Health Dr Ann John said: ‘Leah has led on setting up this valuable listening service. Without her and the volunteers giving up their time and without the donation from WASCH, the helpline would be unable to run.’

Swansea Rape and Sexual Assault Helpline

07933 916186  or 07933 950102

Email: rapeandsexualassaulthelpline@gmail.com

1 An Overview of Sexual Offending the England and Wales, Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office of National Statistic (ONS) and Home Office January 2013.