Two women. The woman wearing a white shirt is comforting the the other woman wearing a blue shirt.

Specialist: Responding to victims of sexual violence

This course aims to build skills and confidence to improve professional responses and make victims of sexual violence safer

Key course features

As part of the Responding to victims of sexual violence training you will be given the opportunity to explore the workings of a Sarc, the services and support they can offer. Plus, follow a case study through the criminal justice process from police investigation to court, with support from an expert police speaker. This course will cover the following topics:

  • The short and long term effects of sexual violence and abuse, including the impact of adverse childhood experiences, mental health and responses to trauma
  • Key skills and approaches for working with victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse
  • Relevant legislation and how to apply it in practice
  • Explore the workings of a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and the services and support they offer
  • Follow a case study through the criminal justice process from police investigation to court, with support from a police trainer

Course overview

SafeLives Responding to Sexual Violence (RSV) Specialist course is made up of Independent Sexual Violence Advocate (Isva) content focusing on supporting victims of sexual abuse. The course aims to enhance your practical knowledge to best support people who are victims of sexual abuse. 

This course is one of our Specialist-level courses. Please see further information about eligibility for this course below. The course is designed as further development following the Foundation Idva course, which covers the core domestic abuse knowledge you would want as an Isva.  

Our SafeLives Insights service shows that practitioners often feel they lack the confidence needed to ask their clients about sexual violence. This course is designed to address that issue, and the feedback we received on our last training suggests it works.

In fact, over 87% of responses to the question, ‘Do you feel confident in your ability to carry out your role as an Idva?’, stated ‘very’, or ‘extremely’, at the end of the training, compared to just 13% of responses before the training.

This course has been developed in conjunction with Ynys Saff Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Cardiff and approved by the Home Office.

Successful completion of this accredited course and the Idva Foundation course will give you the title of OCN Qualified Isva. 

Topics covered in this course include:

  • Current legislation for consent and sexual offences under Sexual Offences Act, Domestic Abuse Act and Online Safety Act.
  • Prevalence, impact of sexual violence and trauma responses.
  • Practical strategies to promote disclosure of sexual violence and guidance on how to respond.
  • Criminal justice process from reporting to police, CPS decision making and attending court.
  • Insight into police investigation and interview strategies.
  • Needs assessments for Isvas, practical and emotional safety planning.
  • Details of sexual health provision and Sarc
  • Advocacy and challenging rape myths with clients and other professionals.

We are delighted to announce that, following an open competition, we have been awarded funding from the Ministry of Justice, under the Independent sexual violence advisors (Isva) and Independent domestic violence advisors (Idva) Training and Infrastructure Fund.

With this provision, we are now able to offer the 2024 courses at a reduced cost – please see the new costing below.

Very informative - covers the different aspects of the ISVA role.  Although online it's interactive and the groups in the break out rooms work well.  Lots of information prior to the course so you feel somewhat prepared for what is to come

Previous learner

Time commitment

The RSV Specialist course comprises 4 days online training, delivered in four consecutive days; e-learning modules which must be completed prior to attending each block of training; and the completion of one assessed worksheets that is submitted online. 

You must attend all 4 days. 

The list below provides guidance on recommended study time you should allow: 

  • Guided learning (training blocks, pre-course reading and e-learning modules) – 40 hours 
  • Worksheets – 15 hours 
  • Notional study – 40 hours 
  • Total course time requirement – 95 hours 


Our Responding to Victims of Sexual Violence course is one of our Specialist level courses. It is typically designed for learners who have already qualified as an Idva (or equivalent role) or Ypva and want to top up their knowledge by attending a shorter (four day) course in a new subject. However, we also accept applications from practitioners who are already working with victims of sexual violence and who hold a caseload on this course.

To be classed as a qualified Isva (independent sexual violence advisor) you must have completed the Idva Foundation and this Responding to Victims of Sexual Violence specialist course.

Learn more about our Idva Foundation Course

Please note that this course is tailored to practitioners in England and Wales. If you are living in Scotland, please get in touch with our team via email:

I now also feel more able to provide information and support to victims to enable them to make choices in how they would want to progress by having more understanding of the processes and what they can expect to happen.

Previous learner


£718.25 per learner


We’re pleased to offer a limited number of subsidised spaces for learners wishing to train with us. The reduced fee spaces are allocated by random selection from the pool of successful applicants who qualify. Please ensure that you complete the application as fully as possible as the answers provided on the application will be used to determine eligible learners. 

Thanks to the additional funding from Ministry of Justice our subsidised spaces are offered at an even lower rate currently.  

  • Subsidised spaces £60 (previously £600) - Learners from registered charities with an annual income of less than £1million. 
  • Super subsidised spaces £35 (previously £350) - Learners from registered charities with an annual income of less than £500,000. 

How to apply

Applications for the next Responding to victims of sexual violence course are now closed.

If you cannot attend the upcoming course dates, register your interest in future training


We welcome learners of all backgrounds and abilities. We encourage you to share with us any details on accessibility and diversity needs so we can ensure the right support is in place. You can also contact us if you have any queries via

Play video

A few words from our trainer

Learn how to respond to a disclosure of sexual violence: In this short video Isva and former manager of Ynys Saff (Cardiff Sarc) discusses how this course helps practitioners feel more confident in responding to a disclosure of sexual violence.

You may also be interested in

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletters about the latest training, events, research and fundraising initiatives at SafeLives. Together, we can end domestic abuse, for everyone, for good.

Sign up