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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Rape and sexual assault

Rape and sexual assault are violent crimes that affect people of all ages, both male and female. The police and other organisations are there to help anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted.

What is rape?

Rape is when someone forces another person to have sex against their will. Most rape victims are female, but men can be victims too.

Sexual assault is being forced or pressured to take part in sexual activity including unwanted touching, 'sexting' (texting sexual images), being forced to watch or be involved in pornography or sexual bullying.

Rape or sexual assault can be committed by a stranger, but it's more likely to be someone you know.

What to do if you've been raped

Rape and sexual assault are violent crimes that can have a devastating affect.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted it's important to remember that:

  • you are not to blame; the person who raped or assaulted you is to blame
  • you do not have to cope on your own
  • there are many support services that can help you. They know how difficult it is for people to come forward and will respect and believe you

If this has happened to you, try and find someone you trust to talk to. It doesn't have to be someone in authority; just someone that you feel comfortable with.

Reporting a rape

If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, you can report it to the police. If you're under 17, the Child Protection Unit of your local police will deal with your case.

The police will have specialist teams and officers who have been trained to deal with rape and sexual assault. If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can ask to speak to an officer that's the same gender as you.

You may be asked to give the police the clothes you were wearing when you were assaulted. They may contain traces of evidence that can identify the person who attacked you.

If necessary, the police will also arrange for you to have a medical examination. The doctor will treat any injuries you have and also gather any evidence that may help the police with their investigation. The doctor will talk to you about the examination beforehand, so you know what's going to happen.

The police may want to talk to you again as they investigate the crime. They will keep you updated with any developments, and tell you what support may be available if you go to court.

If your case goes to court, and you have to give evidence, there are a number of special measures available to help you. For example, you could give your main evidence by a video recording; through a video link or in private or from behind a screen. If you're in Crown Court, judges and lawyers can be asked to remove their wigs and gowns if that makes you feel more comfortable.

The police and Crown Prosecution Service will talk to you about your options.

What if I don't want to report the rape?

Not everybody who has been raped or sexually assaulted wants to report it to the police. This is your choice and nobody will force you to report it unless you want to. Whatever your decision, there are services available to help and support you.

Drug and date rape

In some rape cases, the victim is given drugs without them knowing. This can happen, for example, by dropping drugs into someone’s drink (which is known as ‘being spiked’).

To stay safe when you're out, never accept a drink from someone you don't know and never leave your drink unattended.

Help for victims of rape and sexual assault

If you’re a victim of rape or sexual assault, it’s normal for you to be feeling scared, confused and distressed. There are organisations you can turn to for support, advice and help.

Rape Crisis - helpline 0808 802 9999 (12.00 pm to 2.30 pm and 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm).

Additional links

Victims of crime - find help

If you're a victim of crime, you can now search for services in your area that can give you help and support

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