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Rape and sexual assault

Being raped or sexually assaulted is a distressing experience with effects that can be ongoing.

Because the majority of rapes are reported to be against women, this leaflet is written from that perspective. However, we acknowledge that men can be raped and Counselling and Personal Support offers support to all survivors of rape or sexual assault. The advice and suggestions that follow are relevant to both men and women.

It can be difficult to talk about a sexual attack to friends and family, even though it is important for the survivor to have understanding and support. It can be helpful to talk to a trained person in confidence.

Facts about rape and sexual assault

  • The majority of rapes and sexual assaults are carried out by a person known to the survivor. They may be a friend, partner, workmate, neighbour or a person in authority. It is a myth that sexual violence is only carried out by strangers.
  • Rape or sexual assault, whether by stranger or friend is never the survivors fault. Nothing they have done or not done warrants sexual or physical violence. The assailant is always responsible for their behaviour.
  • Rape and sexual assault is about the use of power and force to humiliate, control, hurt or violate, rather than about sexual desire or passion.
  • Appearance, age, status, cultural background, occupation or previous relationships are irrelevant. Anybody can suffer serious sexual assault.
  • A large number of sexual attacks are premeditated.

How a person may react during an act of sexual violence

When a person is assaulted they may react in various ways. Some scream or fight back whereas some become quiet - too frightened to speak or cry out. Paralysed by fear they may do little to resist.

Verbal intimidation, death threats and emotional blackmail may all be used by the assailant. This can result in some deciding to struggle less in the hope of managing to stay alive and getting away with the least amount of physical harm. Consequently a person may not have physical injuries or signs of a struggle afterwards.

How a survivor may feel after an attack

Rape or sexual assault is a shocking and traumatic experience and each survivor may feel differently after an attack. However you feel is valid. Initially, survivors are likely to be in shock and may experience a whole range of different feelings. People who have survived sexual violence describe feeling:

  • Frightened
  • Guilty
  • Angry
  • Confused
  • Powerless
  • Ashamed
  • Depressed
  • Numb
  • Lack self-confidence

In order to cope with the trauma, some try to carry on as normal and don't tell anyone what has happened for a long time. This may be because they feel they won't be believed or fear that other people may blame them for the assault. This is often how someone can feel if their attacker is known to them. In these circumstances they may feel confused, particularly if this is someone that they have had consensual sex with previously, or if the attacker told them that they had brought this on themselves.

Remember rape or sexual assault is never the survivor's fault. Everyone has the right to say no to sex and to mean no. Having agreed to sex on a previous occasion does not mean that you have agreed to have sex on subsequent occasions.

Often distress can surface a considerable time after the event. No matter how much later, help is available. Try not to feel that you have to cope on your own simply because you did not report the incident sooner.

Health issues

Survivors are often concerned about their health. Hospitals and GPs are able to see people on a confidential basis and not report the assault to the police if that is what you request.

You may decide to be tested for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. If you prefer not to use your GP, pregnancy tests can be carried out at Pregnancy Advice Centres and Brook Advisory Clinics. In addition, there are local
Genito-urinary clinics which offer free confidential advice where testing can be carried out for diseases and HIV infection.

Survivors may have bruising and other injuries that need medical attention from the casualty (A+E) department at a local hospital.

Reporting rape or sexual assault to the police

Sexual violence is a criminal offence and you can report the crime to the police. It is your choice. You can do this later if you wish but the reason for reporting the crime immediately is so that forensic evidence can be taken.

It is a good idea to take a change of clothing with you as the police may require your clothing for forensic evidence. As it is likely that there were no witnesses to the event, forensic evidence is usually crucial to the success or failure of a prosecution. For this reason it is important that you do not have a bath or shower immediately after the assault as this will destroy crucial forensic evidence.

When you go to the police station it is a good idea to take someone with you for support and knowledge of the system. At the police station, ask to speak with an officer who has had special training in rape and sexual assault who will explain procedures to you. This will include taking a statement from you and giving you advice and information about the next stages.

No one has the right to ask you to disclose any personal details about previous relationships and your sexual life. Forensic evidence will be collected by a police surgeon, who is a GP employed by the police, through a medical examination. You do not need to show physical injuries to prove that you have been assaulted. If the assault was physically violent the police forensic team may wish to visit the scene of the crime.

If you are traumatised after the attack you may arrange another time to give a statement. If English is not your main language the police can arrange for an interpreter to be present.

Confidentiality

DMU, in line with other universities, has a duty to report any crime of which it learns to the police. This is particularly important when other students may be at risk. Therefore a member of the university staff cannot keep confidential information regarding rape and sexual assault unless they are working within a formal counselling or medical setting. The university will support any student wishing to make a report to the police.

Counselling, Mental Health and Wellbeing (and the Student Health Centre) are not subject to this duty and so do offer confidential support within their normal code of practice. Contact us to speak to a counsellor in confidence to see how we might be able to help. The service has access to information on available community support.

Useful contacts

Rape Crisis Foundation - a website with useful information
Bully OnLine - information about drug rape
The Mandala Project

Sexual Violence Helpline for Leicester City

Leicester Rape Crisis P.O. Box 7402
Leicester, LE1 6WD
T: +44 (0)116 255 8852 (helpline)
admin@jasminehouse.org.uk

http://www.jasminehouse.org.uk

Helpline: Monday to Friday 10am-4pm
Wednesday & Thursday 10am-8pm

Survivors (male rape) 0845 122 1201 Monday & Tuesday
between 7pm and 9.30pm or Thursday between 12pm and 2:30pm

Mansfield House Police Station (for City Centre) 74 Belgrave Gate, Leicester, LE1 3CG: Tel: 101. Opening times: Mon-Sun 8am to midnight

Brook Advisory Service 0808 802 1234
LIFE (Pregnancy Care) 0800 849 4545
National Aids Helpline +44 (0)800 567123

 
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