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Rape and sexual assault

Rape and sexual assault are acts of sexual violence. Both are against the law and can be prosecuted in a court of law.

Anyone can be sexually assaulted, male or female, heterosexual or gay, old or young.

The effect that it has on people will vary and different people may feel the impact of it in different ways and at different times in their lives. You might feel scared, frightened, angry or embarrassed; whatever you feel, you should be aware that there is support for you available and that you are not alone.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted you can report the crime to the police at any time. Reporting an incident later rather than at the time of the assault, may however affect the evidence available should you wish to pursue a prosecution.

If you choose not to report the crime you can still get help and support. Trained volunteers can visit you at home, or you can talk confidentially to an individual on the dedicated Victim Support line 0845 30 30 900. If you do not want anyone else to know of the circumstances of your assault, they will not pass on anything you discuss with them.

Even if you do not wish to report the sexual offence to the police, you should still seek medical attention and advice on emergency contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as soon as possible.

The Metropolitan police have launched a website with a step by step guide for victims of sexual assault, it’s called “My Decision” and the link is http://mydecision.co.uk/

Substance assisted sexual assault (”Date Rape”)

Date rape drugs can be used to sexually assault a person. The drugs often have no colour, smell, or taste and are easily added to drinks without the victim’s knowledge. These drugs usually cause a person to become helpless — they can hardly move and are not able to protect themselves from being hurt. People who have been given date rape drugs say they felt paralysed or couldn’t see well, and had black-outs, problems talking, confusion, and dizziness. Date rape drugs can even cause death.

It’s hard to know whether a party, club, or concert you plan to go to will be dangerous. Drugs may not be at every party you go to, but you should still have a plan for keeping yourself and your friends safe no matter what.

  • Say “NO” to alcohol. Have water or a soft drink instead.
  • Open your own drinks.
  • Don’t let other people hand you drinks.
  • Keep your drink with you at all times, even when you go to the bathroom.
  • Don’t share drinks.
  • Don’t drink from punch bowls or other large, common, open containers. They may already have drugs in them.
  • Don’t drink anything that tastes, looks, or smells strange. Sometimes, GHB tastes salty.
  • Always go to a party, club, or concert with someone you trust, such as a friend or an older brother or sister.
  • Stay away from “party drugs.” They can be pills, liquids, or powders. These drugs can also leave you disoriented and vulnerable.

Alcohol on its own, is a powerful drug and may leave you vulnerable to assault; it is therefore always a good idea to ensure that if you are going out and intend to drink you do so in the company of good friends who will not leave you alone at the end of a night out.

It is also advisable always to carry enough money for a black cab fare home or for a reliable local cab service. Never pick up an unmarked car from the street. You can programme the number of the black cab or local cab service into your mobile phone to have it easily at hand.

If you need help, you may want to consider one of the options below:

  • Talk to your GP.
  • Go to a sexual health clinic, such as the Wolverton.
  • Attend your local Accident & Emergency.
  • Call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
  • Call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 www.@samaritans.org (helpline).
  • Attend one of the Havens where clinical and forensic services, counselling, and practical and emotional support are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week 020 7247 4787 www.thehavens.org.uk.
  • Call Survivors UK: for men who have been sexually assaulted. 0845122 1201 www.survivors.org.uk
  • Call Victim Support: 08 08 16 89 111 www.victimsupport.org.uk

The police have set up special units to support people who have been sexually assaulted. These units are called ‘Sapphire’ and are based across London. If you want to press charges or would like advice you can find out more from their website.

http://www.met.police.uk/sapphire/index.htm

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted within the last 7 days it is advisable to be seen at a specialist sexual assault service where staff can advise on your health care needs and also carry out appropriate tests should you wish to report the crime to the police. The specialist centres available in London are called the Havens.

There are three Havens in London – You can go to whichever one you feel is best for you.

Once you know which one you want to go to, please ring them to make an appointment first.

Camberwell: 020 3299 1599
Paddington: 020 3312 1101
Whitechapel: 020 7247 4787

Remember: you must phone the centre you want to go to first to make an appointment.

If you report the assault to the police first, they will organise your visit to the Havens and take you to the nearest one. However, you do not have to report your visit to the police to attend any of the Havens.

For more information please visit the www.thehavens.co.uk

For The Havens Leaflet.

If you do not wish to attend these services then our staff at the Wolverton centre will be happy to advise on the contraceptive and sexual health needs that follow on from rape.

After rape or sexual assault it may be necessary to have the following:

As soon as possible

  • Emergency contraception.
  • Hepatitis B vaccination (hepatitis B is sexually transmitted).
  • PEPSE – post exposure prophylaxis against HIV following sexual exposure. This involves a 28 day course of antiretroviral medicine. It needs to be started within 72 hours of exposure but the earlier the better. (link to PEPSE)
  • Prophylaxis (usually tablets) to prevent some sexually transmitted infections if appropriate e.g. chlamydia or gonorrhoea
  • Advice about forensic testing and referral onwards to specialist centre to do this, if you wish. Avoid bathing and keep all clothes and underwear to preserve evidence if you wish to have forensic tests. DNA evidence of vaginal penetration may last up to 7 days and anal penetration up to 3 days but testing is more accurate the earlier it is done.

Not so urgent

  • Routine STI screen – best done 14 days after assault.
  • Emotional support and counselling.
  • Arrangements for follow up screening and blood tests e.g. HIV will be discussed at your initial visit.

Please feel reassured that you will be able to request to be seen by either female or male staff depending on your preference and that there will be no pressure on you to take any particular course of action.

If you are aged under 16 you are very welcome to use our service and you will receive the same level of confidentiality as all our other service users (link to confidentiality and the law)

It is important that you try to tell someone about the assault as soon as possible in order to get the support that you will need – a parent, friend, partner, carer, family doctor or trusted teacher for example. Our staff are all experienced and sensitive and able to listen too.

http://www.thehavens.org.uk/how-we-can-help/how-do-i-get-help/