Sexual violence refers to any unwanted sexual act, and includes rape and sexual assault. If you have experienced sexual violence, it’s vitally important that you remember it’s not in any way your fault, and there is plenty of help available to you.
Choosing whether or not to report sexual violence is a personal decision, but it’s important that you’re aware of and comfortable with the next steps you can take. Everyone is different, but we’d like to run you through some of the options.
If you’re in immediate danger
If you suspect you’re in immediate danger of sexual violence, call the police as soon as you can on 999.
You can also contact the University of Northampton’s security service.
What to do if you’ve been assaulted
If you’ve been sexually assaulted, call the police as soon as you can on 999, or a loved one who can be with you quickly.
Following a sexual assault, it’s recommended that you do not:
- wash, shower or bathe;
- use the toilet or discard underwear and sanitary products;
- wash your hands;
- remove, discard, wash or destroy clothing, bedding or towels;
- clean your teeth;
- drink or eat anything beyond essential medication; or
- disturb the scene.
If you can, preserve any non-physical evidence, such as texts, social media messages and emails.
You may decide to attend Northampton’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) or police station, and if you do, it’s important to take any clothing or underwear you were wearing at the time of the incident.
Reporting sexual assault to the police
If you want to contact the police and feel as though it’s an emergency, call 999. If you think it’s a non-emergency, call 101.
The next steps may vary, depending on when the sexual assault occurred. An officer might attend the scene and take an initial account from you. You may also be asked to provide a urine sample and mouth swab (which is self-administered), and attend a SARC for forensic medical examination.
Remember – you’ve done nothing wrong, and you don’t have to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with. The choice about how you proceed is entirely up to you, but the police will have your best interests and safety as their top priorities.
What is a SARC?
Sexual Assault Referral Centres are made up of specially trained professionals who can provide medical help and advice for victims of sexual assault and rape.
These centres may be a good first port of call if you’re unsure as to whether or not you want to report the incident to the police. They can collect and store your forensic results until you’re ready to report. They’ll also provide vital support for any immediate trauma you’re experiencing.
It’s best to contact the SARC before visiting, because although they operate on a 24-hour basis, they need to ensure the relevant staff are on site.
Serenity is the Northampton SARC, and full contact details can be found here.
Who else can I talk to?
Voice has a team of highly trained counsellors who can offer free, confidential advice following sexual assault to men and women, no matter where or when it took place. We can also refer you to Northamptonshire Rape Crisis, with whom we have a close partnership. Contact us today if you want to talk.