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Rape and sexual assault

Support following a rape or sexual assault

If you’ve experienced rape or sexual assault, it’s important to remember it’s not your fault. Support is available to you whenever and wherever the offence occurred. It’s never too early or too late to ask for help and you’ll always be believed.

Through support services you can:

  • tell someone what happened
  • get help to access further support
  • get help to navigate the criminal justice system
  • get emotional support, including from trained counsellors and therapists
  • get help to access medical care

If you’re over 16 and living in England and Wales, call 0808 500 2222 or go to www.247sexualabusesupport.org.uk for specialist and confidential advice.

Find more information and contact details for other support services in this guide on support following a rape or sexual assault.

Reporting a rape or sexual assault

Talking about a rape or sexual assault can be difficult. The sooner you report it, the better chance the police have of collecting evidence, but it’s your choice whether you decide to report or not. If you do, the police will do everything they can to make sure you get the right care and support.  

  • If you’re in danger, call 999. Otherwise, you can call the police on 101 or report online.
  • You can go to a police station and ask to speak to someone in private.
  • You can ask a victim support service to report the crime for you. This is called a third party report. It will be anonymous, so won’t be investigated by the police, but it could help them join up related crimes.

When you first report a crime, you may be asked some questions that will help the police start an investigation and understand if you’re at risk of further harm.

Find more information in this guide on reporting a rape or sexual assault.

Investigating a rape or sexual assault

After reporting a rape or sexual assault to the police, they will make sure you’re safe. This may include organising legal protection orders for you. You might also be:

  • interviewed by a specially trained police officer to understand what happened
  • asked for the clothes you were wearing when you were assaulted
  • given a medical examination in private by medical staff at a Sexual Assault Referral Centre

The police or the Crown Prosecution Service will keep you informed of the outcome of the investigation into your case (which could be no further action, the case being reviewed, or further investigation).

Find more information in this guide on investigating a rape or sexual assault.

Going to court

Under the Victims’ Code, you have a right to be kept updated about the trial and your role in the process. It may be some time before a trial takes place.

It’s likely you’ll need to give evidence in court. You’ll be treated with kindness and respect throughout the process, and you can request ‘special measures’ to make it easier for you. This might include asking the public to leave the courtroom while you’re giving evidence.

Find more information in this guide on the court process for a rape or sexual assault.

After the trial

Going through a trial can be very difficult, and support is still available after court. You can get help and advice on:

  • claiming expenses and getting your things back from the police
  • appealing the sentence if you think it’s too lenient
  • parole and what to expect
  • joining the Victim Contact Scheme if the offender was sentenced to 12 months or more in prison

Find more information in this guide on what happens after a rape or sexual assault trial.

Glossary

Case

When you report a crime to the police, everything about that crime is then called the case. 

Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service presents criminal cases at court after they have been investigated by the police.

Special measures

The extra support a court can provide to help vulnerable or intimidated witnesses give their best evidence. These measures could include putting screens around the witness box. 

Victims’ Code

The Victims’ Code explains the rights that everyone can expect to receive as a victim of crime. Different versions are available, including leaflets, an easy-read booklet, and the full code in English and Welsh.

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