If you think you have been sexually assaulted, it may be hard to know what to do or how to feel. What happened was not your fault. What you do next is your choice.
Are you in immediate danger? If you are in immediate danger or seriously injured, you can call 999 (or 112 from a mobile). If you are on campus you should also contact the College Security Team on 020 7468 5121 (Camden) or 01707 66 6258 (Hawkshead).
Find a safe space. If an incident has just happened try and find somewhere you feel safe. If this isn't possible and you are scared or fearful you can call security on 020 7468 5121 (Camden) or 01707 66 6258 (Hawkshead).
To a friend. Talking things through with someone you trust can sometimes help.
Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs): (can be accessed by contacting your local Sexual Assault Referral Centre.) ISVAs are trained to look after the needs of a survivor of rape or sexual violence to ensure they receive the best possible care and understanding. Contact them and ask to speak to an advisor in confidence. ISVAs are there to provide information to ensure an individual can make a decision that is right for them.
RVC’s Advice Centre offer emotional and practical support. This could include a referral for counselling or mental health support, signposting you to specialist external resources, discussing your options if you wish to report the incident, and providing advice and support to co-ordinate any reasonable adjustments if your studies have been affected. For more information on the support we offer and to book an appointment please visit our Learn site or contact us on 020 8051 3500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reporting to the police. If you're thinking of reporting to the police, rape crisis have produced a useful list of things to think about.
Reporting the incident anonymously. You can call crime stoppers at any point on 0800 555 111 or use their online form.
Report and Support. Students and staff can report an incident using the University’s Report and Support system. You can choose to do this anonymously or you can request support from an advisor. If you choose to talk to an advisor they will be able to talk through the options and support available to you, in confidence.
If you have experienced sexual violence, the College will:
- Support you to report to the under formal College procedures or the police (if that’s what you want to do).
- Take disclosures seriously, you will be believed and treated with dignity and respect
- Act in a timely, sensitive and discrete manner to any reports of sexual violence
- Support you to access specialist help and support
- Respond to disclosures in a way that supports any potential criminal investigation
- Take all precautionary actions needed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of any students involved.
You may not want to report it straight away but you may change your mind:
Evidence can be kept at a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), such as The Havens, and be stored for several years. This allows you to make a formal report at a later date if you don’t want to report straight away but might want to take legal action later
SARCs work in partnership with the police, health services and the specialist voluntary sector with the aim of enabling a survivor of a recent sexual offence to access all of the services they need in one place. A survivor can access a SARC even if they don't want to involve the police
What happens at a SARC?
The type of treatment available can vary, but generally, a survivor of recent sexual violence can have a medical check-up and receive emergency contraception, treatment for STIs and medications that prevent HIV infection.
A forensic examination will be carried out at the SARC by a Forensic Medical Examiner (FME). A survivor can request that the examination be done by someone the same sex as themselves, although sometimes males prefer a female doctor if they have been assaulted by another male.
The forensic medical examination will involve taking swabs and samples from the survivor's body, taking photographs of the survivor's injuries and carrying out an examination of the clothes they were wearing at the time of the assault
What other services do SARCs provide?
Services at different SARCs may vary, but in general, as well as receiving medical treatment and a forensic examination at a SARC, a survivor can:
- Meet a crisis worker. Crisis workers are independent from the police and are there just to support the survivor during their time at the SARC.
- Discuss reporting options including what would happen if they decided to report to the police.
- If a survivor does decide to report to the police, they can be referred to an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) who will provide information and support up to and including the stage of a court appearance.
- Be referred to a counsellor.
SARC contact details
Camden Sexual Assault Referral Centre: Sexual Assault Referral Centre - The Haven Paddington, Contact Telephone Number: 020 3299 6900, Website: www.thehavens.org.uk
Hawkshead Sexual Assault Referral Centre: Herts Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Contact Telephone Number: 0808 178 4448 - 24 Hours, Website: www.hertssarc.org Email Herts.SARC@nhs.net
There is also an online service that helps people locate their nearest sexual assault referral centre: www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/Rape_and_sexual_assault_referral_centres/LocationSearch/364
Forensic evidence may be collected at a SARC after an incident and can be used if you decide to report the incident to the police. To maintain the integrity of evidence, try to go to a SARC as soon as possible after an incident of sexual violence:
- Try not to brush your teeth, wash or shower.
- Try not to eat, smoke or drink.
- Don’t change your clothes. Remember to take a change of clothing and shoes with you to the SARC as the clothing you were wearing at the time of the incident may be taken for forensic examination.
- If you have already changed your clothes, don’t wash them – put them in a clean plastic bag and take it with you to the SARC.
- Remember to take the shoes you were wearing to the SARC.
- Keep any used condoms, tissues etc. from the incident.
- Try not to go to the toilet.
- Don’t clear anything up or wash anything from the area in which the incident occurred.
- If you have already done some of the things listed, such as washing, going to the toilet or brushing your teeth, don’t worry: there may still be evidence available, especially on your clothing or in the area in which the incident occurred.