If you have recently been raped or abused, the first important step afterwards is to make sure you are somewhere you feel safe.
If you are unsure what you want to do next, you can go to your nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) where you can have a forensic and medical examination (including pregnancy testing, advice about sexually transmitted infections and support through follow-on care). SARCs can store the forensic evidence until you have decided whether or not you want to report to the police. SARCs employ specially trained experienced professionals who can give you medical help and advice: they can also help to support you emotionally.
If you can, take a friend that you can trust with you.
If you decide that you want to report to the police, if possible:
- Do not wash
- Do not brush your teeth
- Do not have a cigarette
- Do not eat or drink
- Do not change your clothes (or if you do, keep them safely to one side)
- Try not to go to the toilet
- Do not clear up anything from the area of the incident
Don’t worry if you have already done some of these things: there may still be evidence to collect as well as injuries that can be documented.
If you do decide to report the matter to police, you will be assigned a Serious Sexual Offence Trained Officer. They are experts in this field who are available to support and advise you on what happens next.
Whatever you decide, there is no right or wrong way to react to sexual violence. Each survivor responds in his or her own way.
The Rape Crisis National Helpline: 0808 802 9999 is open every day of the year from 12 to 2.30pm and 7pm to 9.30pm including weekends and bank holidays. (The number will not show up on bills). The national helpline is accessible 365 days a year to women aged 13+ who have survived any form of sexual violence, no matter how long ago.
The helpline is staffed by fully trained helpline workers, and provides:
- Emotional support for survivors of sexual violence.
- Practical information.
- Information for family, friends and partners of survivors.
- Regional and national information resources.
- Signposting to other agencies in the UK.
- Referral information from the nationwide database.
Survivors UK runs a daily, confidential chat service for men who have experienced sexual violence either as a child or an adult, and for their supporters and loved ones. Their helpline workers can support you to share things at your own pace, when you are ready. The chat is under your control, so you can choose to end the conversation whenever you want. The service is open Monday-Friday between 10.30am-9pm, and Saturday-Sunday 10am-6pm. Their online helpline can be accessed here: https://www.survivorsuk.org/ways-we-can-help/online-helpline/
If you are younger than 14, or if you are under the age of 19 and would prefer to speak to a young persons’ service, you can call Childline on 0800 1111. Childline is a free, private service for children and young people to talk about their problems or worries and receive emotional support. The service is open all times of day and the number will not show up on bills. They also offer 121 web chat with trained counsellors: https://www.childline.org.uk/get-support/1-2-1-counsellor-chat/