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Sexual Violence

Being raped or experiencing any sexual violence is a traumatic experience. You will experience an array of emotions and 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…
  • Helpless.
  • 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 TutorA friend
Residential Community TeamA family member
Wellbeing and Student Support TeamYour GP
Sexual and Domestic Abuse Advisor (SDAA)Practice Nurse
Wellbeing AdviserNational Helplines
Counselling and Psychotherapy Services Other Counselling Services
Students' Union Welfare Officer 
University Community Safety Team 



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 in a respectful and confidential manner 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 assault to the Police.

It is your decision whether to report any forms of 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 acts of sexual violence:

  • Reporting can support 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 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 soon as possible (preferably within 7 days of the assault), 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
  • You can make a self-referral to the Blue Sky Centre (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) on 0800 970 0370. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Blue Sky Centre staff can provide advice and information to support you in your decision-making regarding reporting to the police 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 Assault 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.


4. Who can help?

Emergency Support:

Community Safety Team (if you are on campus)

Telephone: 02476 522222

Police (if you are off campus)

Telephone: 999

Immediate Support:

Blue Sky Centre, Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).

Provides immediate 24/7 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. Contact details and location can be found at

Ongoing Support:

If your studies are affected, we would advise contacting Wellbeing and Student Support, 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 Sexual and Domestic Abuse Adviser (SDAA)

The University Sexual and Domestic Abuse Adviser can provide specialist practical and emotional support and advise on other services available to you. This link provides all information that relates to sexual violence and external services.

Wellbeing and Student Support (WSS)

Wellbeing and Student Support (WSS) offers help and guidance and can refer you to specialist services. They are available during normal working hours, with Brief Consultation sessions being offered from 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday via our Wellbeing Portal or call Wellbeing and Student Support on 024 7657 5570. WSS is based on the ground floor of Senate House on central campus and more information is available on

The Counselling and Psychotherapy Services is available for students of the University of Warwick and information is available at

SU Advice Centre

Provides free, confidential, impartial advice for all students and independent from the University. Based on the top floor of SU HQ. Contact details and advice can be found at Their opening hours are as follows: Mon, Tues & Thurs 9-5pm, Wed 9 – 5.30pm, Fri 9 – 4.30pm (term-time only). You can email enquiries to or phone 024 765 72777

External Services

You can also contact an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor directly, who can support you to report to the police and can further support you through the criminal justice system. ISVA service is available via Safeline, CRASAC or RoSA, see details below:

  • Safeline is a specialist sexual violence and abuse charity led by the needs of its clients. Services include specialist counselling, ISVA, helplines including male specifics support, prevention & early intervention & specialist training. Call 01926 402 498
  • Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) Free, independent and confidential support for anyone who has experienced sexual violence or abuse at any time in their lives. Services include Helpline, counselling and support through the reporting process. Call 024 7627 7777 or
  • RoSA (Warwickshire) Free, independent charity working with survivors of rape, sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse. We offer a completely confidential service and support women, men, young people and children. Call 01788 551151
  • Coventry NHS Healthcare and Walk-in Centre. They offer a range of services including sexual health support and are located on the 3rd floor, Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry, CV1 4FS. Contact number: 0300 200 0060
  • Integrated Sexual Health Service. Free and confidential care and advice on sexually transmitted infections and contraception. Drop in or make an appointment at 0300 020 0027. Location: Floor 3, City of Coventry Health Centre, 2 Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry, CV1 4FS

  • National Rape Crisis Helpline. Freephone: 0808 802 9999 available 24/7 everyday of the year.
  • Safeline's National Male Helpline Offers support to men affected by rape or childhood sexual abuse. Call 0808 800 5005
  • Survivors UK - for men who have experienced sexual violence. Call 0845 1221201
  • Galop - Provides specialist support for LGBT people who have experienced abuse including sexual violence within a relationship. Call 0800 999 5428
  • Panahghar provides free dedicated BAME multilingual support, advice and advocacy and access to safe refuge for victims and their families of domestic abuse, sexual abuse or gendered abuse in Coventry and Leicester. Call 0800 055 6519
  • Birmingham Rape & Sexual Violence Project (RSVP). Offer support to children and adults, and people of all genders who have been subjected to sexual violence and abuse. They also have some services for people supporting survivors. For more about their services and support, contact them on 0121 643 0301 or visit opens in a new window
  • Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse
  • Information on reporting sexual violence to the police

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