Sexual assault and abuse
Rape, sexual abuse, or sexual assault can happen to anyone, whether you are male or female, young or old, lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual or transgender.
If this has happened to you, remember you are not alone, and it was not your fault.
Rape is when a man forces his penis into the vagina, anus or mouth of another person without his or her consent.
Sexual assault or abuse
Sexual assault can be committed by males or females, and can include:
- When objects, penises, or fingers are inserted into the vagina or anus when the person does not want this to happen
- When a person is touched sexually (eg, on the breast, anus, vagina, penis, etc) when they do not wish to be, even if they are wearing clothes
- When someone is made to masturbate themselves or touch another person sexually, when they do not want to
- When violence is used to force sexual activity of any kind
One in four women, and one in eight men will be the victim of rape or sexual assault in their lifetimes. Assault can happen by someone you trust and feel comfortable with, such as a friend, partner parent, GP, health advisor, or teacher. Alternatively (although less often), sexual assault can happen by a complete stranger.
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, it's important that you tell someone as soon as possible so that you can get the support you need.
It is completely up to you whether or not you report it to the police. You do not need to report it to the police in order to access help or support. If you decide to report it to the police, they have specially trained officers who will support you to make a report and getting the services you need.
If you want to have a medical examination (for evidence, or for your safety), you have to do this within one week of being assaulted. If you are over 14, your medical examination will take place at the Saturn Centre in Crawley (www.saturncentre.org). If you are under 14, you will be referred to the local hospital paediatric team.
During your medical examination, specialist doctors will ask you about what happened and then examine your body to try and find evidence of what has happened to you. You can be screened for STI's and given emergency contraception and healthcare when necessary and given local information for follow up support. Forensic evidence can be frozen to give you time to decide if you want to report to the police or it can be passed anonymously to the police.
If you have reported to the police and want to go to the Saturn Centre, they will escort you there with a supporter of your choice. You can also go to the Saturn Centre without reporting to the police so that you can get the medical help and emotional support you need.
Before you go for the examination, try not to shower, wash your clothes, go to the loo (although this may be difficult) or have a drink. Doing so could get rid of evidence, which might be helpful in a police investigation.
Sexual Health Screen
The Claude Nicol Centre can also do a full sexual health screen and follow up sexual health care following a rape or sexual assault, but they are unable to do a Forensic Medical Examination. They can help you to contact the police or the Saturn Centre, or any other specialist services should you wish. They can also make a third party report to the police on your behalf. The health advisors can be contacted on: 01273 664716
People who abuse, rape, assault, bully or exploit others sexually are criminals. These people are called perpetrators, and they can be arrested, tried in a court, prosecuted, and convicted for what they may have done to you.
www.childrenslegalcentre.com is a specialist legal help service website for young people who would like advice on how to get help to prosecute a perpetrator for sexual crimes.
Survivors' Network in Brighton supports survivors of rape, sexual assault and abuse and has a service called Space 2 for young people aged 14-25. There is an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) who can give you information, advice and support, and tell you about the police process if you want to find out more before reporting. Survivors’ Network also has a counsellor (currently for young women only aged 14-18) and a drop in.
For more information, please contact 01273 203380 or see www.survivorsnetwork.org.uk.
If you don't feel like you can talk to anyone in person about what's happened, that's okay too. There are plenty of help lines available, with people who can listen and give advice on what to do as and when you're ready:
RASASC (Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre): 0808 802 9999.
Helpline open everyday between 12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm
Childline: 0800 1111
Get help and advice about a wide range of issues, talk to a counsellor online, send ChildLine an email or post on the message boards www.childline.org.uk
Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Samaritans provides confidential emotional support 24/7 to those experiencing despair, distress or suicidal feelings.
Please feel free to contact us at email@example.com with your questions or comments.