Support for Survivors
Our Safeguarding Office is a safe point of contact for survivors and victims of abuse within the Catholic Church. We support survivors who were abused when they were children and those who have been abused as adults. We recognise that speaking out about abuse can be very difficult and distressing and you may not have felt able to tell anyone before. We are here to support you to share your experiences.
In this video, the Cardinal leads us in making the Stations of the Cross, remembering in our prayers especially all those who are victims and survivors of sexual abuse.
By phone – You can call 020 7798 9096 / 9186 and ask to speak to one of our Safeguarding Officers Rebecca & Sarah.
By email – You can email Rebecca & Sarah on firstname.lastname@example.org
By post – Unfortunately we are not able to accept post at the moment, during the Covid-19 pandemic, as we are unable to collect it from our offices. Once restrictions on movement are lifted we will once again welcome your contact via post.
In person – Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are currently unable to meet survivors in person. However, when the social distancing restrictions are lifted we will again be able to meet with you. In the meantime, Rebecca & Sarah can offer you a video call if you feel that would be helpful. Please contact them by phone or email as above if you would like to explore speaking with them via video.
What you can expect when you contact us
- Sarah or Rebecca will give you space to share your story and time to talk at your own pace.
- It is up to you what and how much you share depending on what you are comfortable with.
- They will listen in a way that is non-judgemental and built on a foundation of respect for you and how you feel.
- Sarah or Rebecca might ask you some questions but this is only so they can better understand your experiences.
- They will talk with you about different support options available.
- They will let you know what will happen next and arrange a time to contact you again to give you feedback or an update.
We refer all disclosures of abuse to statutory agencies (Police, Children’s Services, Adult’s Services) in line with the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service’s guidelines (CSAS). We do this to protect other children and adults from harm. Even if you were abused a long time ago, your abuser might still be working with children or adults and we want to make sure they are not at risk. Any referrals to statutory agencies will be made in discussion with you and you will be able to choose whether or not you consent to a police investigation.
The Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Services (CSAS) updated National Policy for the support of those affected by allegations of abuse within a Church setting is available here.
Our Commitment to Survivors
We are aware that talking to someone who works for the Diocese of Westminster about abuse you experienced within the church may feel daunting or you might not feel that you can trust us.
Please be assured that everyone who works in the Safeguarding Office has made a commitment to survivors of abuse and are dedicated to ensuring you are heard and that children and vulnerable adults are kept safe. You can read more about our Commmitment to Survivors March 2020
We also publish and information leaflet called ‘Hurt by Abuse’ which outlines what you can expect from the Safeguarding Office and the support available. Unfortunately, we are not able to send hard copies of these out by post at present due to the limitations to travel by Covid-19. We will resume this service once restrictions are lifted.
If you don’t feel ready to talk to us just yet…
…that’s totally ok. It can take time to feel comfortable to talk about abuse and only you will know when the time is right. When you do make contact, we’ll be here to listen and support you. Until then, there are a number of other organisations who provide support, advice and guidance to survivors and victims of abuse.
- Hurt by Abuse Leaflet – this is the official leaflet for the Westminster Diocese which contains helpful information for survivors of abuse.
- Respond Listen Support - this is the official leaflet for the Westminster Diocese about support to survivors of abuse.
- Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors – MACSAS supports women and men who have been sexually abused, as children or adults, by ministers, clergy or others under the guise of the Church.
- Grief to Grace UK – Healing the wounds of abuse – Founded in Pennsylvania in 2006, Grief to Grace now ministers in several diocese in the USA, in Canada and in Kingston, Jamaica. With the support of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, The Most Reverend Peter Smith, the programme was first piloted in the UK in 2011 and established as a UK charity in 2014.
- The Survivors’ Trust – The Survivors Trust (TST) is a UK-wide national umbrella agency for 130 specialist organisations for support for the impact of rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse throughout the UK and Ireland.
- One in Four – Supporting people who have experienced child sexual abuse and trauma
- NAPAC – the National Association for People Abused in Childhood offers support to adult survivors of all types of childhood abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect.
- ICAP – (Immigrant Counselling and Psychotherapy)
is a charity providing counselling and psychotherapy. Talking with a trained and experienced professional in a safe, confidential, non-judgemental space can help people understand the causes of their distress and pain.
4 May 2021 Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse
This is a day when we think about and pray for all those impacted directly by abuse – for the victims themselves at the heart of our prayer, their families, friends, and communities.
This year the resources for our national day will be prepared by the Let’s Be Honest group (a group that includes survivors, set up in September 2019 to resource and support the pastoral care of victims and survivors of sexual abuse as children or as adults, their families, affected parishes, and overarching church responsibility).
Here below is the 'Resources' link to this year's Day of Prayer.
In the resources, you will find Information about the suggested liturgies, including preparation notes, guidance on support, and additional prayers for the Day of Prayer for Survivors of Abuse.
Listening with Love to the Word of God
In conversation through hurting, healing and hope
The Let’s be Honest Group was approached by the Bishops’ Conference to provide some material for Lent 2021. From the beginning, it was recognised that the opportunity to invite people to reflect on the impact of abuse on individuals, and the Church. should not be limited to a particular time and that the resource could be for use at any time.
After an initial discussion about looking at scripture and how it might be reflected upon, as well as how to link the sessions, the members of LBH asked survivors to prepare the resource. The survivors identified the themes and decided that, in conversations the voice of the survivor could be heard. Therefore, using scripture and recorded conversations each session reflects upon the impact of abuse. Participants are invited to listen and reflect.
At the end of the six sessions there is an opportunity to reflect on what has been heard and what it means for the local Church.
Safe Spaces is a free and independent support service, providing a confidential, personal and safe space for anyone who has been abused by someone in the Church or as a result of their relationship with the Church of England, the Catholic Church of England and Wales or the Church in Wales.
Safe Space have made available funding through a grant to provide support to survivors of church-related abuse.
If interested, please see below how to apply by 30th July 2021.