If you have been raped make sure you go to a place where you feel safe. If you are not sure what you want to do, go along to your nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) where you can have a forensic and medical examination (including tests for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy). 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 and support you through the immediate trauma.
If you can, take a friend that you can trust with you.
If you decide 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: it is quite possible that there is still evidence to collect as well as injuries that can be documented.
Rape Trauma Syndrome is a recognised crisis response to rape and sexual assault and is a term sometimes used to help explain the impact of sexual violence.
Immediately after being assaulted you may feel shock, denial, disbelief and a determination to carry on as if nothing has happened. In the longer term you may experience insomnia, nightmares or flashbacks. However, there is no right or wrong way to react to sexual violence. Whatever you do feel is valid and right in respect to how you're feeling. Each woman responds in her own way. If you can talk about your feelings with other women it can help you to understand your responses and can start to help you regain some control over your own life.
The Rape Crisis National Helpline: 0808 802 9999 is open every day of the year: 12 to 2.30pm and 7pm to 9.30pm including weekends and bank holidays. (The number will not show up on bills).
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.