The most important thing to remember is that it was not your fault and you are not to blame for what happened.
There is no right or wrong way for you to feel. However you are feeling now, it is normal.
If it happened very recently, try to look after your physical needs first:
Be somewhere that feels safe. If you don’t feel safe, you can call 999 (or 112 from a mobile) and ask for the police.
Keep yourself warm. Wrap up in something warm or get a hot water bottle, which will help if you are in shock.
Call someone you trust. Either to just talk or for them to come and be with you. If you feel you can’t talk to someone you know, you can call our helpline or the National 24/7 Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Line on 0808 500 2222 (open 24hrs, every day of the year).
You may want to be checked by a doctor. If you have serious injuries or feel very unwell, call 999 and ask for an ambulance or go to your local A&E for immediate treatment.
You don’t have to tell anyone what happened if you don’t want to but bear in mind that the staff might not be able to treat you as effectively if they don’t know what caused your injuries. They shouldn’t contact the police about what happened to you unless you ask them to.
If you feel your injuries are less severe, you can go to your GP instead but they may refer you to A&E if they think that a certain treatment is required.
The Elms Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)
The Elms SARC is a specialist medical centre for anyone in Cambridgeshire who has been the victim of a sexual offence.
You don’t need to report to the police to access support from The Elms, but if you think you might want to report later, you can go to the SARC for a forensic medical examination. You need to do this within seven days (five days for children) of the assault but, as time is an important factor, you should try to get to the SARC within 72 hours of the rape or assault.
The SARC can store the physical evidence for you for up to seven years and also take an initial account, if you want to give one. This can be passed on to the police at a later date if you choose.
Also, if possible, try not to:
- Eat or drink.
- Wash yourself.
- Brush or comb your hair.
- Brush your teeth.
- Change your clothes.
- Go to the toilet.
- Move or clean anything where the rape or sexual assault took place.
If you do, or have done, any of these things don’t worry – it’s possible there is still forensic evidence to collect and you can still report to the police.
Our support services
We offer support to individuals who have been subjected to rape, child sexual abuse or any other form of sexual violence, whether it happened recently or a long time ago or if you aren’t sure what has happened to you.
We will always listen to and believe you, without judgement. We offer free and confidential support which includes:
Emotional support services
Our helpline, email support and live chat services are for women and girls of all ages and backgrounds who have been subjected to any form of sexual violence. They are a safe space for you to talk and be listened to.
Our Independent Sexual Violence Advocacy (ISVA) Service offers practical information and advocacy support for survivors of sexual violence of all genders and ages. Our ISVAs can also support you through the criminal justice system, should you chose to report to the police, although you don’t have to report to the police to get support from an ISVA.
Our counselling service offers both 1-2-1 counselling and peer support group counselling to survivors of sexual violence of all ages and genders (our groups are for female survivors only). Offering a safe space where you can have the time and peace needed to think and talk things through.
Reporting to the police
We understand that some people who have been subjected to sexual violence want to report to the police and some people do not. Whether or not you report to the police is always your choice and no-one should every pressure you.
To find out more information about reporting a crime, both in the UK and abroad, you can read our guidance here.
Other things to think about
It’s not easy to think about straight away but if you have been raped you might be at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Used to prevent unwanted pregnancy, there are two types of emergency contraception, both can be used up to five days after rape or sexual assault.
You can buy emergency contraception tables from a pharmacy or online (over 16s only).
You can get free emergency contraception from your GP or local Integrated Contraception and Sexual Health (iCASH) clinic.
You can buy a pregnancy test from a pharmacy or supermarket or get a free test from your GP.
If you have just been raped or sexual assaulted, you might need to wait before you can take a pregnancy test. Make sure you follow the instructions on the test, or get advice from a doctor or pharmacist.
If you are pregnant and don’t want to continue with the pregnancy you can access information on the NHS website.
There are preventative medications that can be prescribed for HIV and hepatitis B which need to be started as soon as possible. Please contact The Elms for more information and to make an appointment.
Some STIs have obvious symptoms but many don’t. If you have concerns about STIs, you can get free tests and treatment from your GP or local Integrated Contraception and Sexual Health (iCASH) clinic.