No-one should suffer sexual assault in silence. Here are the places you can go for help
No one should suffer sexual assault, abuse or violence, but it is sadly a very common occurrence. According to Rape Crisis England and Wales, nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year, and 1 in 5 women will experience some form of sexual violence during their adult lives.
If you have suffered any form of sexual violence, there are places you can go for help and support. You don’t have to report an assault to police if you don’t want to. You may need time to think about what has happened to you, and process your feelings before making deciding what to do.
However, do consider getting medical help as soon as possible, because you may be at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Below are just some of the specialist services available to victims of sexual violence in the UK. This list will be regularly updated to make it as comprehensive as possible.
For specialist medical attention and sexual violence support, whether you decide to have a forensic medical examination or not, your first point of call is a sexual assault referral centre (SARC).
These places have specially trained doctors, nurses and support staff who will look after you. You can refer yourself to a SARC whether you want to report your assault to the police or not. Below is a video about what you can expect when visiting an SARC.
Rape Crisis England and Wales is a specialist service for women and girls who have been raped or who have experienced any other form of sexual violence at any time. They currently have 45 member organisations, providing services in 56 locations across England and Wales.
Rape Crisis offer a range of support, advocacy, counselling and information, in women-only safe spaces; and some provide separate space and services for male sexual violence survivors, and/or for men supporting a survivor.
Freephone 0808 802 9999 from 12 noon-2:30pm and 7-9:30pm every day of the year.
The Survivors Trust (TST) is a UK-wide national umbrella agency for 130 specialist organisations for support for the impact of rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse throughout the UK and Ireland. Their website contains list of Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) services, which provide advocacy and practical support services for survivors, and a list of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs).
SurvivorsUK was established as a service for male survivors of sexual violation, to cater for people not provided for by other services. The service is inclusive, and welcome anyone who identifies as male, trans, non-binary, has identified as male in the past, or anyone who feels that the service is the right fit for them.
The Havens are a network of three specialist sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) located across London. They are open 24/7, and work closely together to ensure that the same level of service is provided wherever a victim of sexual assault presents.
They also have advice and support available for family and friends of people who have suffered sexual violence.
Victim Support’s services are confidential, free and available to anyone who’s been raped or sexually assaulted, now or in the past. They can help, regardless of whether you have told the police or anyone else about the attack.
Volunteers can visit you at home (if you want us to, and if doing so will not put you at further risk) or somewhere else if you prefer. If you don’t want to see anyone face-to-face, you can also talk to us on the phone, either at one of our local offices or at the national Victim Supportline.
The organisations campaign for justice and protection for all women and girls, including asylum seekers, who have suffered sexual, domestic and/or racist violence.
If you would like to see a support centre or network added to the list, please contact us – firstname.lastname@example.org.