Processes of reporting rape

**Trigger Warning: rape, sexual assault**

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, the most important thing to remember is that it was not your fault. Rape and sexual assault are never the fault of the survivor.


If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, the next step is to get help. These guidelines are set out by Rape CrisisUK.

–          Go to a safe place, such as the home of a trusted friend or family member. You can also go to a police station, hospital or Sexual Assault Reporting Centre (more information on these to come).

–          If you want to report the assault to the police, it is entirely up to you. If you do want to report it, the sooner it is reported the more forensic evidence can be collected by the police or a Sexual Assault Reporting Centre.

–          Check with your local police station to see if they have a specialist worker. Ask to speak to a specially trained Sexual Offences Liaison Officer. These officers will have been trained to support you as best as possible.

–          You do not have to go to a police station if you choose not to. You can choose to go to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre where you can have a forensic and medical examination. They can store the forensic results until you make up your mind whether to report to the police or not.

–          If you do not want to take legal action, it may be important that you receive medical attention. You do not have to have a forensic examination if you go to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre, to the hospital or to your GP. You may need to receive treatment for your injuries, access emergency contraception and check for sexually transmitted infections.


Rape Crisis Centres specialise in rape trauma support and counselling. You can contact Rape Crisis on: 0808 802 9999 and they can give you advice and support from there. The Rape Crisis Centre can give you advice and support on making decisions as to police and criminal justice system procedures. Remember, the only person who can make the decision is you and no one else should make the decision for you.


Below is some further information on reporting rape and sexual assault to the police, and accessing Sexual Assault Referral Centre services.


Reporting rape/ sexual assault to the police

As stated before, whether you choose to report the rape or not is completely your choice and no one should try to influence your decision, or make the decision for you. Here is some information of what happens during the process of reporting rape to the police.


If you were raped recently, then the police will collect forensic evidence to prove that sexual intercourse took place. In cases of ‘stranger rape’ (i.e. when you do not know the person who raped you), then this forensic evidence can help to identify the perpetrator.


The forensic tests consist of swabs taken from any area that the perpetrator came into contact with. The police advise that to maximise the effectiveness of the forensic examination you:

–          Try not to wash

–           Try not to brush your teeth

–          Try not to have a cigarette

–          Try not to eat or drink

–          Try not to change your clothes (or if you do, keep them safely in a plastic bag)

–          Try not to use the toilet

–          Try not to clean anything up from the area of the incident.


These steps are to maximise the effectiveness of evidence gathering, but do not worry if you do any of them, or want to do any of them, it will still be possible to collect evidence and examine any injuries.


Try to give a complete and honest statement to the police. If you do not remember something, tell them you do not remember; tell them how much you had to drink, or if you had taken any drugs. These factors do not make you responsible for the rape, remember, it is not your fault. If you are speaking to a Sexual Offences Liaison Officer, then they will have received training to ask these questions delicately. If at any point you need a break, feel uncomfortable, or would like to have a chaperone or friend with you, let the police know this.


Making the decision on whether to report rape to the police can be difficult, especially as it often needs to be made quickly. Remember, it is your decision to make, no one should try and influence you or rush you into it.


Your stay at the police station may take several hours. You can ask to speak to an officer of any gender you prefer, and can ask to speak to a Sexual Offences Liaison Officer specifically. The police will want a statement from you: you can write this down, or they can record it for you. You can ask for a copy of this statement. After the recording of the statement, the gathering of forensic evidence will take place. As this is not a medical examination, if you are in need of emergency medical attention, you can insist on this first.


Once you have told them all you know, it is up to the police to pursue the case. Many Rape Crisis Centres have an Advocacy Service that can help you throughout the criminal justice process, including accompanying you to court.


Reporting rape/ sexual assault to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre

A Sexual Assault Referral Centre is a specialist medical and forensic service available for anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted.


The services provide medical care, forensic examination and sexual health services free of charge. The services are available to everyone regardless of gender or age.


Sexual Assault Referral Centres provide medical services to anyone even if you do not wish to report the assault or rape to the police. The samples taken at the Sexual Assault Referral Centre can be stored in case you choose to inform the police of the rape or assault at a later date. This can allow you to take more time over the decision and give you some control, whilst still facilitating you to receive medical treatment following a rape or assault.


For information on your local Sexual Assault Referral Centre, go to:


For more information on reporting rape or sexual assault to the police go to or call 020 7251 8887. Rights of Women provides free legal advice to women affected by sexual violence.


Broken Rainbow provide advice and information to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans individuals who have been affected by domestic and sexual violence. For more information, visit:


Women Asylum Seekers Together provide advice and support to women asylum seekers:

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