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Helplines - Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re considering contacting our helplines, you may like to know exactly what you can expect from this service. We have compiled a list of the questions that people most frequently ask about our helplines and we hope that this will help answer any queries you may have.

If you have any further questions after reading what’s below, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer them.

General FAQ

  • No – it is entirely up to you whether you give your name or not. The important thing is that you get the support you’re looking for. You can give us a made-up name if that makes you feel safer, or you can just chat anonymously.

  • If you are over 18 years and there are no children at risk then the decision whether to report to the police or not is entirely up to you. If, however, you give us any information that clearly identifies the name and location of a child who either has been, is being or is at serious risk of being abused, we have a duty to pass on that information to the appropriate agencies.

    If you are under 18 years we have a duty of care to do all we can to protect you. However, we can only report if we know who you are and where you live. So it is your choice whether you give us identifying information about yourself/your abuser/s or not. If you just want to talk without giving us identifying information then that is your choice and we would rather you did that than suffer alone.

  • All of our helplines team have completed a thorough training course, preparing them for whatever you might need to talk through. We operate under a tight code of practice which ensures that they are fully supported in their work.

  • We understand that sometimes self-harming is a way of expressing your anguish when you have lost your connection with words or other outlets. We are here to listen – we will never judge the way in which you manage the pain you are living with.

  • We don’t compare one person with another. Every person is unique and has their own journey. If you have had any sexual experience that has been unwanted or has upset you, then you have a right to use our helplines. Nothing is too small or too big. Please don’t exaggerate or minimise your experience for us. There is an ancient saying: “The truth will set you free”.

  • – Our telephone and text support team aim to be there for you and to support you in whatever you are facing at the moment. They don’t usually tell you what to do. They are there to listen to you and understand how you are feeling in all that has happened to you. They will help you think through dilemmas and offload disturbing thoughts and memories. They will take you seriously and won’t be fazed by whatever has happened to you.

    – You may want to talk or text about an experience that has recently happened to you. You may still feel in shock and haven’t felt able to talk to anyone about it as yet. You may want to talk about something that’s been going on for a long time and that you’ve felt too afraid to tell anyone about. It may be that now just feels like the right time to talk something through even if you have also shared some of the details with others. Even things that happened many years ago could still be affecting you now.

    – It’s your chance to say whatever you want to someone who will listen to you and who won’t judge you.

    – We can offer times when there are only women answering calls.

  • – The helplines support team work as volunteers.

    – All of our support team members have undergone intensive training, devised specially for this role. It includes observation and assessment of their active listening skills, and enables the team to have expertise on some of the deep issues people sometimes face when they have been sexually violated.

    – All team members attend monthly group supervision, supervised by qualified counsellors, to ensure that they are giving you the best support they possibly can.

    – As a service, we belong to a professional organisation called the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP). This gives you confidence that we work to very high standards in caring for the safety of everyone who comes to us and that we will respect the confidentiality of all those who contact us via one of our helplines. Our support team aim to make the helplines a safe place for you to be heard and respected.

  • – Confidentiality means that anything you tell a team member on our helplines will stay strictly within the helplines team. The team includes our qualified supervisors who oversee the helplines support volunteers and ensure that every team member is giving you the best support they can.

    There are, however, some very important exceptions to us guaranteeing confidentiality on the helplines. For more information, please read our Confidentiality Policy and our Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy.

It’s amazing how we are often better able to cope with things when we can talk to someone else about them. Sometimes, just talking about things can show us what we need to do about them and enables us to find our own way out.

Telephone helpline FAQ

  • We can be with you during periods of silence and through tears. If you can’t speak on a call, you have still communicated. You can always call us again another time. Or, if you find it easier, you can text or email us instead.

  • No. Lifecentre uses the Helpline Freephone Range, which means that calls to our helpline are free from landlines and mobile phones within the UK and do not appear on itemised bills.

  • No, our telephone system doesn’t display your number. If you want to make doubly sure that we can’t identify your phone number then dial 141 first, as this withholds your number.

  • – It is estimated that approximately 1 in 4 women/girls and 1 in 8 men/boys have experienced some kind of unwanted sexual trauma. If this is you, please feel free to call us on the helpline.

    – You may be deeply affected by an unwanted sexual experience that has happened to someone you are supporting either personally or professionally, for example: your child, another family member, a client, a close friend or partner. Call our helpline and talk to someone to help you support them and offload how it is affecting you.

    – If you are being pressured to keep secrets, being told to keep quiet, or being threatened, call us. If someone seems to be showing excessive interest in you and behaving in a way that scares you, you can talk to us about it.

    – Our helpline is open to all male or female survivors and their supporters, regardless of race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, educational status or religion.

    – We will not knowingly work with perpetrators of sexual violence. If you have sexually abused someone yourself, you should phone ‘Stop it Now’ instead of Lifecentre. They can be contacted on 0808 1000 900.

    – Callers can contact us from anywhere in the country.

    – We will terminate calls that are abusive towards our team in any way.

  • Yes. Around 70% of our callers live outside of Sussex. The Lifecentre helpline is accessible and available nationally.

  • Yes, you can call as often as you need to, although we will only accept one call per person per evening. If you have already been talking to one of our team on a particular evening but want to call again, we request that you phone again on a different night rather than a second time on the same evening. This allows as many people as possible a chance to talk to our team.

  • We can’t always promise that you will be able to talk to the same helplines team member again. We work as a team and will support you collectively each time you ring in.

  • We apologise that sometimes you may not be able to get through to us if the lines are busy with a lot of people calling. Please do try again later that evening or on another day. We really would love to speak to you and are sorry for any frustration or disappointment you may feel if you’re not able to get through at a particular time. As an alternative, you could text or email us if you are able to do so.

We appreciate that sometimes it feels too hard to talk. Writing down your thoughts can help you to make sense of them. Text us.

Text helpline FAQ

  • Yes, you can text as often as you want to.

  • Text messages are responded to within 48 hours, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Please note that we do not text back during weekends or on Bank Holidays.

  • We’re sorry that we can’t promise you will always receive a reply from the same team member each time you text. We have a team of people who work on this side of the service.

  • Yes. The system that Lifecentre uses does not display your mobile phone number, so all texts are anonymous unless you choose to include your name in the message.

  • Any texts you send to our helpline will be charged at your standard network rate.