If you have recently been raped or sexually assaulted

The most important thing to remember is that it was not your fault and you are not to blame for what happened.

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.

Wrap up in something warm and have a hot drink, which will help if you are in shock.

Call a friend or someone you trust to come and be with you. If you don’t feel like talking to someone you know, you can call our helpline or the National 24/7 Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Line on 0800 500 2222 (open 24hrs, every day of the year).

Get checked medically. If you have serious injuries, such as bleeding (especially from your vagina or anus) or severe bruising you can call 999 and ask for an ambulance, or go to 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 has happened to you unless you ask them to. If you feel your injuries are less severe, you can see your doctor instead, but they may refer you to A&E if they think that certain treatment like stitches are needed.

You don’t need to decide now whether you want to report to the police or not.

You can go to your nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for a forensic medical examination within seven days of the assault. They will 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. The SARC in Cambridgeshire is The Elms at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon.

If you do want to have a forensic medical examination for evidence to be collected, time is an important factor; you should try and go to the SARC within 72 hours of the rape or assault, however, evidence can be collected up to seven days after.

Also, if possible, try to take these steps:

  • Do not wash
  • Do not brush your teeth
  • Do not have a cigarette
  • Do not eat or drink
  • Do not change your clothes
  • If you do change your clothes, do not wash them but put them in a clean plastic bag
  • Try not to go to the toilet
  • Do not clear up anything from the area of the incident

Don’t worry if you have already done some of these things. It’s possible that there is still forensic evidence to collect.

If you want some more information about reporting, you can read our guidance here.

The Elms (SARC)

The Elms,
Hinchingbrooke Hospital,
Hinchingbrooke Park,
Huntingdon, PE29 6NT

Office: 01480 425003
Out of Hours Helpline:
0800 193 5434