If you've just been assaulted
If you have just been raped or sexually assaulted you may be feeling many things. Some people report that they feel numb or shocked, confused or frightened or fragile or angry. There is no right or wrong way to feel. It might be helpful for you to know that many people report that these feelings do not last.
Here are some things that you can do:
Try to be somewhere that feels safe.
You might be in shock, so try to keep warm.
See if a friend or someone you trust can be with you.
Talk to someone about what has happened. If you don't feel like talking to a friend or family member yet, call the Rape Crisis National Helpline on 0808 802 9999
However you are feeling, try to remember that this is not your fault, you are not to blame, and you are not alone.
If you want to report the assault to the police there are several ways in which you can do it:
You can call them on 999 if the incident happened recently
If you want to report a sexual assault that happened a long time ago you can call their non-emergency number 101
Another option is to go into your local police station. You may want to ask a friend or relative to go with you.
If you are not sure whether you want to report to the police or not yet, you can go along to your nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). It's good to take a friend or trusted person with you if you can. At the SARC, you can have a forensic medical examination, as well as tests for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. The SARC should not pressure you into reporting to the police and they can store the results of the forensic examination (or evidence) until you make up your mind whether to report to the police or not. SARCs have specially trained experienced professionals who can give you medical help and advice. They can also help and support you through the immediate trauma. The SARC for anyone in Brighton & Hove or Sussex is the Saturn Centre in Crawley. The Saturn Centre has a 24-hour helpline staffed by nurses who can provide medical advice and book appointments. The number is 0800 033 7797
Both the SARC and Survivors' Network can also are also part of a scheme called Third Party Reporting in which we pass on information to the police without giving away any details which could identify you. This helps them to see if there are any serial offenders. We will always ask your permission before we pass on any information. For more information on Third Party Reporting see here
If you do decide to report to the police, or if you want a forensic medical examination at the SARC, time is an important consideration. If you want forensic evidence to be collected, you should try and go to the SARC straight away if you can, or at least within 72 hours of the rape or assault. Also try, if possible, to take these steps:
Do not wash
Do not brush your teeth
Do not have a cigarette
Do not eat or drink
Do not change your clothes
If you do change your clothes, do not wash them and put them in a clean plastic bag
Try not 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. It's possible that there is still forensic evidence to collect.
Everyone responds differently to a traumatic event. Whatever you feel is a completely valid response to what has happened. You might be experiencing some of the emotions listed below. You might feel none of these things at all. Whatever you do or don't feel now or in the future, talking to a Rape Crisis Centre can help.
You can also choose to do nothing now. If you feel that it would be useful for you to take time and to think about the options open to you then that is a perfectly valid decision.
You are not to blame and you are not alone.