Support for Survivors
Our Safeguarding Service 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.
Phone – you can call:
Frederick Coombs - 020 7798 9186 / 07851 250 897
Eithne Atterbury - 020 7798 9096 / 07851 250 899
Email – email@example.com
What you can expect when you contact us
- Our Safeguarding Officers 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-judgmental and built on a foundation of respect for you and how you feel.
- They 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 Standards Agency’s guidelines (CSSA). 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 Standards Agency (CSSA) 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 Commitment to Survivors October 2023.
We also publish an information leaflet called ‘Hurt by Abuse’ which outlines what you can expect from the Safeguarding Office and the support available.
The Day of Prayer for the Victims and Survivors of Abuse is taking place on Tuesday 9 May 2023, please find resources for this Day of Prayer for the Victims and Survivors of Abuse here: https://www.cbcew.org.uk/prayer-for-survivors-of-abuse/
You can also read more about the commitment to Victims and Survivors of Abuse through 'The Isaiah Journey': https://www.cbcew.org.uk/the-isaiah-journey/
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 that 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 dioceses in the USA, Canada and Kingston, Jamaica. With the support of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, The Most Reverend Peter Smith, the program 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 to support 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, providing a space to talk with a trained and experienced professional in a safe, confidential, non-judgmental space.
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 Spaces can be contacted on 0300 303 1056
Opening hours will be extended to Monday to Friday 9am – 9pm, Saturday 9-1pm and Sunday from 1-5pm (excluding bank holidays, subject to review)
Your Personal Information
To read about how the Diocese will deal with your personal information, please read the Privacy Statement.
Resources & Links for Survivors
Domestic Abuse Support:
- Refuge - Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline - 0808 200 0247 - www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk
- Safe In Faith - Support for Survivors of Domestic Abuse - safeinfaith.org.uk
- Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline - 0800 027 1234 - sdafmh.org.uk
- Karma Nirvana runs a national honour-based abuse helpline. - 0800 5999 247 - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hestia provides a free mobile app, Bright Sky, which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.
- Imkaan is a women’s organisation addressing violence against black and minority women and girls.
- SignHealth provides domestic abuse service support for deaf people in British Sign Language (BSL). - 020 3947 2601 - email@example.com
- Chayn provides online help and resources in a number of languages about identifying manipulative situations and how friends can support those being abused.
- Cedar - Catholics experiencing domestic abuse resources - www.cedar.uk.net
- Respect Domestic Abuse Helpline - 0808 802 4040 - www.respectphoneline.org.uk
- Men’s Domestic Abuse - 0808 801 0327 - www.mensadviceline.org.uk
- Live Fear Free helpline (Wales) - 0808 80 10 800 - www.livefearfree.gov.wales
Child Abuse Support:
- NAPAC - The National Association for People Abused in Childhood - www.napac.org.uk
- The Survivors Trust - www.thesurvivorstrust.org
- NSPCC - National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children - www.nspcc.org.uk
- The Children's Society - www.the-childrens-society.org.uk
- Podcast: NSPCC Helpline’s Domestic Abuse Practice Advisors
- Barnardo's - www.barnardos.org.uk
- Stay Safe East provides advocacy and support services to disabled victims and survivors of abuse.
Sexual Abuse Support:
- Sexual Assault Referral Centres provide advice and support services to victims and survivors of sexual assault or abuse.
- Rape Crisis (England and Wales) - 0808 802 9999 - www.rapecrisis.org.uk
- Scottish Women’s Aid - 0131 226 6606 - www.scottishwomensaid.org.uk
- Women’s Aid Federation (Northern Ireland) - 0800 917 1414 - www.womensaidni.org
- Southall Black Sisters offer advocacy and information to Asian and Afro-Caribbean women suffering abuse
Other support links:
- Action on Elder Abuse - www.elderabuse.org.uk
- Shelter provides free confidential information, support and legal advice on all housing & homelessness issues - www.shelter.org.uk
- Galop (for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people) - 0800 999 5428 - www.galop.org.uk
External events for Survivors
Stolen Lives: a lay-led Synodal Assembly on 8-14 October 2023:
Please follow this link for more information about this event including talks online and in-person from survivors, activists and academics from all over the world:
Throughout our section, you will find links to external websites. Every effort is made to keep the website up and running smoothly and ensure these links are accurate, up to date, and relevant. However, the Safeguarding Department cannot take responsibility for pages maintained by external providers.
If you come across any external links that do not work, we would be grateful if you could report them to the web content team or at firstname.lastname@example.org