Where can I get help?

There are many sources of help if you have been affected by rape or serious sexual assault. The important thing is to remember you don’t have to go through this on your own. Support from people you trust can really help, whether it’s friends, family or any of the support services organisations. See the local and national support services listed here, they offer expert assistance if you want to talk things through in confidence.

You can contact the police on 999 to report a recent incident, or call 101 to report non-recent offences.

Specialist sexual assault referral centres, such as The Bridge, can help with immediate medical help for the possibility of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases and will also provide ongoing support and counselling. They are also able to take forensic samples and preserve the evidence if you’re initially unsure about involving the police but want to decide at a later date.

Whichever organisation you contact will be able to put you in touch with additional local services.

What if I’m too traumatised and ashamed to talk to anyone?

It can be difficult, but it’s important to try to talk things through with someone – your feelings on this can’t be ignored or buried. Many people feel humiliated and ashamed by what has happened and can often blame themselves. Remember that the person who did this to you chose to commit the crime – you have done nothing wrong.

Try to talk with people you trust or you could also contact a helpline to talk with a specialist support worker in complete confidence.

Try not to keep it to yourself; no-one should suffer in silence.

I was drunk, I can’t remember what happened, could it be rape?

There is no excuse for rape or serious sexual assault, whatever the circumstances. If you were drunk and unable to give your consent to sex, it is rape.

What will happen if I call the police?

The police always want to be told about rape and serious sexual assaults. They will offer you assistance whether or not you decide to proceed with a prosecution. Calling the police early allows physical evidence to be collected which may not be available later. Reporting could help prevent you or someone else being hurt again.

When you call the police, an officer specially trained in supporting victims of sexual assault will be there to help and guide you through the process and will put you in touch with further help and support. Further details of the police procedures are available.

If you are undecided about reporting to the police, you could get help from a local Sexual Assault Referral Centre. They are also able to take forensic samples and can store them for a later date, should you decide to report it then.

I’m a man – will anyone believe I was raped?

Yes they will, rape and serious sexual assault happen to both men and women. Research suggests that each year in England and Wales, 12,000 men are raped and 72,000 are seriously sexually assaulted.

It is believed that men are less likely to report the assault than women which could give the impression that the incidence of male rape and serious sexual assault is lower than it actually is.

How can I help someone who’s been raped or seriously sexually assaulted?

If someone you know has been the victim of rape or serious sexual assault, you can offer them your help and support.

Be aware that they may be feeling scared and vulnerable.

Be patient and listen to them, it takes a lot of courage and strength to be able to talk about this. It takes a long time to deal with and recover from a sexual assault.

Be aware that they may not want you to ask for details of the assault as, by asking for details, they may think you’re blaming them.

Respect their decisions, for example, whether or not they want to report the assault to the police. You could also offer them practical support, such as going with them to appointments.

Always remind them that it’s not their fault.

Remember that they may not want to be touched. Any physical contact, even a hug, may be very frightening for them. Help them find out about the help and support that’s available.

Rape is a crime that takes away the power of the victim. Don’t put pressure on them, let them be in control.

What is the legal definition of rape?

According to the legal definition, rape occurs when a male forces his penis into the mouth, anus or vagina of another person when that person doesn’t want him to do so; the law calls this ‘without consent’. The most important thing to remember is that you should never be forced to have sex when you don’t want to.

What is sexual assault?