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If you have just been raped or sexually assaulted

If you have just been raped or sexually assaulted only you can decide what to do next. There is no right or wrong way to act or feel.

Here we give you some information on steps you can take if you have just been raped or sexually assaulted, whether you want to report the assault to the police or not.

first steps

If you need urgent medical attention then phone 999 or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department.

If you don’t need urgent medical attention and if you can, then go to a place where you feel safe.

If you can, tell someone what has happened. This may be a friend or family member, or it may be a helpline.

If you think you want to report the attack to the police then it is recommended that you:

• Don’t wash
• Don’t change your clothes (or if you then do not wash the clothes, place them in a clean plastic bag)
• Try not to eat, drink, smoke or brush your teeth.
• Try not to go to the toilet.
• Don’t clear away or move anything if you are still at the place where the attack happened.

These steps help to preserve any DNA evidence which may help the police to identify and successfully prosecute your attacker.

visiting a SARC

A Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) will be able to provide you with help and support, carry out forensic medical tests, as well as test you for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. The SARC for Lincolnshire is Spring Lodge and is based in Lincoln.

If you report the assault to the police then a police officer will arrange to take you there but you can still access SARC services if you do not report the assault to the police. A friend or family member can go with you if you would like them to.

If you think you may have been drugged or your drink was spiked then tell the person who is taking the physical evidence as soon as possible so they can arrange for your blood and urine to be tested.


If you choose not to report the assault to the police or to access services at the SARC then you may still want to consider accessing medical treatment. You may have physical injuries that need attention or you may need emergency contraception and tests for sexually transmitted infections.

You can get help with these at:

• Your local SARC centre
• Your nearest Accident and Emergency Department
• A family planning clinic
• A sexual health clinic
• Your local GP

Medical staff will deal with your needs in confidence and they will not inform the police without your permission. However, your GP will have to record any tests and the results in your medical records.


Being raped or sexually assaulted is an extremely distressing experience but everyone will react and feel differently. There is no right or wrong response.

You may find that your feelings change from day to day and it is likely that you will experience a whole range of emotions. No matter what you are feeling it is important to try and remember that it is not your fault, the responsibility for the assault lies only with the attacker.

You might want to consider getting some support to help you cope with what has happened.

You might want to talk to a friend or family member. Or you might prefer to talk to someone you don’t know. You can find contact numbers for national helplines on our resources page, or you might want to phone our helpline. You might also want to consider counselling or speaking to an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor.

Your GP can help if you are experiencing depression, they might prescribe you medication or talk to you about going for counselling.

It is important to remember that you can access support for rape or sexual assault at any time, whether it is in the first few days afterwards, months or even years later.

You might also find it useful to read our information on what happens if you decide to report a rape to the police along with anonymously reporting rape to the police.


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