LimeCulture launches new guidance for professionals working with people with Learning Disabilities who have experienced sexual violence and abuse

LimeCulture is pleased to share new guidance for professionals working with people with Learning Disabilities who have experienced sexual violence and abuse as part of the National ISVA Co-ordinator (NISVAC) Service pilot.

The NISVAC Service has been working in partnership with national learning disability organisations, local projects, professionals and ISVA services to identify the practical challenges and barriers for victims/survivors of sexual violence with learning disabilities in accessing sexual violence support services.

Building on existing research, we found that many victims/survivors of sexual violence with learning disabilities are not being referred to, or are not readily able to access specialist sexual violence services. This is, in part, driven by the lack of information about the support available, and the confidence of disability organisations in enabling and encouraging their clients to access support provided by Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) services. In addition, ISVAs have also told us that they often feel they lack the experience, confidence and skills to respond to the needs of victims/survivors with learning disabilities.

LimeCulture has created this resource, developed with input from learning disability organisations and ISVA services, to raise awareness of local ISVA Services among disability organisations, and to support disability organisations to strengthen their internal processes to ensure appropriate referrals are made for the individuals they support.

The pathway resource aims to support organisations and professionals working with individuals with learning disabilities to:

  • Respond to and support those who may have experienced sexual violence and abuse
  • Identify and access sexual violence pathways of support local to the victim/survivor
  • Improve access to Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) services
  • Strengthen internal processes and local partnerships with sexual violence support services.

Download the   Guidance for professionals working with people with Learning Disabilities

Holli Waterson, National ISVA Co-ordinator for the NISVAC Service, said:

“It is an important principle that all victims and survivors, including those with learning disabilities, can access the support from an ISVA services where they have experienced sexual violence or abuse. The organisations and professionals who work with or support people with learning disabilities have a key part to play in ensuring a seamless pathway to support from an ISVA service.

However, we know from the work we’ve been doing that professionals don’t always know what to do when people have experienced sexual abuse. Their knowledge of local ISVA services may also be limited and therefore referrals that could be made, are not – meaning that people with learning disabilities do not always get the specialist support they need following sexual abuse.

The purpose of this pathway guide is to provide information to support professionals to make referrals to ISVA services. By raising awareness of ISVA services among professionals and organisations, we hope to increase the number of victims/survivors with learning disabilities getting the specialist support they need.”

Through the National ISVA Co-ordinator Service pilot, LimeCulture has established a Professional Network for ISVAs to share knowledge, best practice and expertise when supporting clients with learning disabilities.

To better support ISVAs to respond to clients who have learning disabilities, we have also developed an accredited, 2-day training course for ISVAs to appropriately meet the needs of clients with learning disabilities and neurodiverse conditions. The first course takes place on 12 and 13 April 2022 – you can find out more information, including how to register, here


The NISVAC Service pilot was commissioned by Operation Hydrant in 2020 to support victims/survivors of sexual abuse from identified hard-to-reach, or seldom heard, groups with a pathway into support from an ISVA service and/or access to the criminal justice system, in recognition of the additional barriers they face. 

The National ISVA Advice Line is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm – 0800 246 5260 or by email


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