If You Need Help Now
If you are in danger or in need of immediate medical care, call the emergency services on 999.
Rape and sexual violence are horrific and traumatic crimes. Many victims and survivors experience a wide range of emotions after rape or sexual assault and are often too shocked to act in the immediate moments. There is no right or wrong way to react or feel.
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted recently:
- Try and get somewhere that is safe and warm – the most important thing is your safety
- Try to talk to someone – if you feel able to, tell someone you trust what has happened. If you don’t feel you can talk to someone close to you, there are specialist organisations that will listen and support you
- Try not to blame yourself – what happened to you is not your fault
It can be difficult to think about but if you are considering reporting to the police after a recent incident:
- Try not to shower or bathe
- Try not to brush your teeth
- Try not to change or wash your clothes – if you do change clothes, put everything you were wearing into a plastic bag
- Try to avoid eating or drinking
Some of these things may be in your first instincts to do but trying to avoid these actions can preserve evidence. Don’t worry if you have already done some of these things as there may still be evidence to collect up to seven days after the assault. This is called the ‘forensic window’, which is the timescale that DNA evidence can be obtained.
Whether you report what happened to the police or not, it is your choice and yours alone. Helplines offer information about what happens when you make a report to the police. There are Independent Sexual Violence Adviser’s (ISVA’s) who provide support around the criminal justice process and can give you the information you need to make the right decision for you.
If you decide to report to the police, and the incident took place within forensic timescales, you’ll be asked to visit a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). Some organisations have specialist workers and ISVA’s who can accompany you. If you agree to visit the SARC, forensic evidence can then be collected by a specially trained doctor or nurse and you will be offered ongoing support. After the forensic evidence is collected you will be asked to provide a recorded interview account of what happened in a specially designed and comfortable interview suite. This can be used as evidence in a trial. You will also be asked if you want to make a victim personal statement about the impact of the assault. You may not be ready to do this so soon after the assault, but you can make a victim personal statement at any time or add to a statement you made earlier.
It is important to know that you are always in control of how each step progresses and you can ask to stop an investigation at any time.
You can also attend a SARC without reporting to the police so you can receive any medical treatment you might need. You can ask for your visit to be kept confidential.
If you have been a victim of non-recent sexual violence you can still report this to the police. We understand that people are not always ready to talk about sexual violence when it has just happened. It can take years or even decades before someone is able to talk about what happened.
We also understand that some people do not realise that they have been a victim of sexual violence until sometime later. It may be that you wish to report this to the police or that you just need to get some support.
You can call the police on 101 and the call handler will ask you a few questions to establish how best to help you.
Our members are specialist support organisations who offer tailored support, including sexual violence counselling, advocacy, peer support and emotional support, for recent and non-recent sexual violence, for women, men, children and young people.
No matter what or when it happened, we are here to support you.