Everyone will need different forms of support to help them through the experience of sexual assault or rape. Some people will find it easy to talk to friends and family and other people will need the help of impartial professionals. You may also need different support at different times of your life. Many people believe they have recovered from a rape that may have happened years ago only to find that watching a TV programme triggers old memories and feelings. Whether you need help because of something that’s happened recently or something in the past there are a range of options open to you.
Immediately following rape: If you’ve just been raped consider getting yourself somewhere where you feel safe. For example do you have a trusted friend or relative you could be with or confide in?
Once you are somewhere safe, it’s up to you if you choose to report to the police what’s happened.
Reporting rape: If you do decide to report, you can call 999 or the non-emergency number on 101. If you report a rape that’s happened recently, a forensic medical examination will be carried out and you will be asked for a statement about what’s happened. Your physical examination should be done by a specialist doctor and your statement will be taken by a specifically trained police officer.
The police should also give you more information about support that you can access including info about Independent Sexual Violence Advisors. . If you report a ‘historical’ rape, you will still be asked for a full statement and given information about local support services.
If you don’t want to report the rape then consider whether you need medical attention – not only for immediate physical injuries but also to check for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy etc.
Support and advice: If you are unsure what to do next or don’t know what support is available to you, you can phone the Rape Support Line (0300 111 0777) and talk things through with a worker. The national Rape Crisis line is also available most days on 0808 802 9999
Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA): If you have reported to the police you should be able to access support through an ISVA. An ISVA will provide you with information about the court process including keeping you informed about charging decisions, court dates and so on. They will also be able to accompany you if you need to give evidence in court.
Counselling and long term therapy: There are many different organisations and services that offer counselling and therapy. Some specialise in offering support about rape and sexual abuse and others offer counselling on a range of matters. Some organisations offer only one to one support whilst others also offer support groups. You can also ask your GP for a referral to a counsellor or psychologist.