Being raped or experiencing any sexual violence is a traumatic experience. You may have mixed feelings about what has happened and whether to tell anyone. People can react in very different ways and the information below aims to give guidance on what you might expect and what you may want to consider, to help you make an informed choice about what to do next.
1. Common Responses and Feelings
2. Who Can You Talk to?
3. Practical Considerations – What to do after a Rape or Assault
4. Getting Support - External Agencies and Additional Resources
1. Common Responses and Feelings
If you have been sexually assaulted or raped you may be experiencing a wide range of emotions and reactions, which can be very distressing. This is quite normal for someone who has been through such a traumatic experience. Everyone has different feelings and reactions after sexual violence and this may change from one day to the next. The impact can be short or long term and can affect you in different ways.
You may be feeling:
- Shock or disbelief – I feel numb. I never thought this could happen to me.
- Shame and embarrassment – how can I show my face again? What will people think?
- Fear – I’m afraid to be alone, to go out or to go to sleep because I’ll have nightmares.
- Sad and worthless.
- Anger – how dare they do this to me!
- Guilt and self-blame – if only I hadn’t…
- Anxious – I’m having panic attacks.
- Physically unwell – I feel sick in the stomach; my head aches all the time.
Some common reactions you might also experience include:
- Feeling responsible for the abuse/violence.
- Feeling isolated, alone and out of touch with the rest of the world.
- Believing no one can understand how you are feeling.
- Unable to stop thinking about the experience(s).
- Unable to think clearly or to concentrate.
- Not wanting to be touched by anyone.
- Feeling that you cannot trust anyone.
- Feeling unsafe when you are alone.
- Feeling unsafe around others.
Remember that you are NOT to blame, regardless of whether:
- The perpetrator was an acquaintance, date, relative, friend or partner.
- You had been sexually intimate with that person or with others before.
- You were drinking or using drugs.
- You froze and did not or could not say “no”.
- You did not fight back.
2. Who Can You Talk To?
Talking to someone about the experience may help you to cope, to seek support and to heal and therefore it is very important to tell someone about your experience. There are a number of people you may to choose to talk to:
|Within University||In General|
|Your Personal Tutor||A friend|
|Your resident Tutor||A family member|
|Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA)||Your GP|
|Mental Health Co-ordinator||Practice Nurse|
|Well-being Advisor||National Helplines|
|University Counsellor||Other Counselling Services|
|Student Union Welfar Officer|
|University Security Staff|
3. Practical Considerations – What to do after Rape or Sexual Violence
If you have been raped or experienced sexual violence you may be concerned about your health. Hospitals and GPs must treat you on a confidential basis and will not report any incident without your consent. It is always advisable to seek medical attention even if you do not want to report the violence to the Police.
It is your decision whether to report sexual violence and this can be a difficult and very personal decision to make. Here are a number of reasons why other survivors have chosen to report a sexual violence:
- Reporting can help you emotionally as part of the healing process.
- Where sexual violence exists in an abusive relationship, reporting may enable you to end the relationship and end the violence.
- Reporting may be the first step towards prosecution.
- Reporting may help you take some control back in your life.
If you do choose to report an incident to the Police the following are some time limits to be aware of:
- If you took or suspect you were given any type of drug, it is best to be tested within 24 hours.
- If you want emergency contraception, medication should be started within 72 hours.
- If you would like HIV prophylaxis (Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) involves taking anti-HIV medications as soon as possible after you may have been exposed to HIV to try to reduce the chance of becoming HIV positive), medication should be started within 36 hours.
- If you are considering reporting it is best to collect forensic evidence as immediately as possible, this can be stored whilst you decide what to do next.
Steps to take when accessing support:
- You can contact the Police direct on 101 or you can make a self-referral to the Blue Sky Centre (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) on 02476 865505 – both of these contact numbers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Many people do not wish to report immediately or want some time to think things through, this is perfectly acceptable and there are steps you can take to make this easier – the Blue Sky Centre staff can provide advice and information to support you in your decision-making and can store forensic evidence (this is evidence that can be used in court, for example blood or DNA samples) for you until you make up your mind. Evidence can be collected at the Sexual Assualt Referral Centre (SARC) without pressure or expectation to report.
- To help get the most effective forensic medical evidence the Blue Sky Centre suggest you try not to eat, drink, smoke, wash, change your clothes, go to the toilet (if you do need to go to the toilet using a bottle and keeping any toilet paper is advisable) or clear up the area where the assault took place. If you have done any of these things don’t worry, it is still possible to collect some evidence – don’t let this stop you accessing support or considering reporting.
- Collecting evidence and making a statement can be a lengthy process, so bringing along a supportive friend or relative might be helpful. It is also useful to take a set of spare clothes if you have not changed since the incident, as they may need to be kept as evidence.
- If you do not wish to see anyone Rape Crisis recommends putting your clothes (including e.g. sanitary pad) in a clean bag in the freezer and brushing your teeth and then freezing the toothbrush.
- Further practical advice can be found on the University of Warwick website by clicking here http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/studentsupport/sexualassault
4. Who can help?
Security (if you are on campus)
Telephone: 02476 522222
Police (if you are off campus)
Blue Sky Centre, Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).
Provides immediate crisis support, medical care and optional police intervention. If you are not sure whether to report, or think you might at some point, forensic samples can be taken and stored so that evidence is available if you choose to report at a later date.
Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone:02476 865505
Location:George Elliot Hospital, Nuneaton, CV10 7DJ
If your studies are affected, we would advise contacting Wellbeing Support Services, the SU Advice Centre, or your personal tutor to get advice on the options available to you e.g. mitigating circumstances, or taking temporary withdrawal.
The University Counselling Service is available for students and staff of the University of Warwick.
Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC)
Free, independent and confidential support foranyone who has experienced sexual violence or abuse at any time in their lives.Services include a helpline, therapeutic counselling and advocacy and support throughout the criminal justice process if reporting.
Email:email@example.com (responded to within working hours)
Helpline Available Mon-Fri 10am-2pm and Mon & Thurs 6pm-8pm
Telephone:02476 277777 to access any of CRASAC’s services
SU Advice Centre
Provides free, confidential, impartial advice for all students and independent from the University. Based on the top floor of SU HQ.
Opening hours:Mon-Fri 9am-3pm (check website as times may vary)
Wellbeing Support Services
Offers help and guidance and can refer you to specialist services. Based on the ground floor of University House.
Telephone: 02476 575570
Opening hours:Mon-Thurs 9am-5pm & Fri 9am-4pm
Rugby RoSA (rosasupport.org)
Offers free counselling, support groups, and an ISVA service. Helpline: 01788 551150
Provides counselling, helpline and online support, and an ISVA service. Helpline: 01926 402498
Coventry NHS Healthcare and Walk-in Centre
Range of services including sexual health services on floor 3.
Telephone: 0300 200 0060
Location:Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry, CV1 4FS
Integrated Sexual Health Service
Free and confidential care and advice on sexually transmitted infections and contraception. Drop in or appointment.
Location:Floor 3, City of Coventry Health Centre, 2 Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry, CV1 4FS
Telephone:0300 020 0027
National Rape Crisis Helpline
Provides emotional support and information for any survivor of sexual violence or abuse.
Freephone:0808 802 9999 (noon-2.30pm and 7pm-9.30pm every day)
Rape Crisis England & Wales (RCEW)
Website provides information and advice including in relation to reporting to the police and information around heath and impacts of sexual violence.
Domestic Violence 24 Hour National Helpline
Open to people of all genders affected by domestic & sexual violence.
Freephone: 0808 2000 247
Text support:07797 805839
Campaign and support organisation with focus on female genital mutilation (FGM).
LGBT Foundation provide a wide range of support services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.
Telephone:0345 330 3030 (Mon-Fri 9am-9pm & Sat 10am-6pm)
Survivors UK: (Men and boys only)
Tel: 0845 122 1201
National helpline for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault.
Birmingham Rape & Sexual Violence Project (RSVP)
Telephone: 0121 643 0301
Telephone helpline: 0121 643 4136
We will support and inspire those affected by sexual violence and abuse to make positive meaningful changes to live a future with hope and confidence.
Since anyone can experience rape, sexual violence and abuse, RSVP services support females and males from the age of 18 upwards and offers advocacy support from the age of 5 upwards.