What to do if you have been raped or sexual assaulted
If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault, it's important that you tell someone and get the help and support you need. You may think that the only option you have is to report it to the police. This isn't the case.
While we would always encourage people to report serious sexual assault to the police, our main concern is for your welfare and there are a number of local and national organisations who can help.
If you do report it to the police, call 999 if the incident has just taken place or if you are in immediate danger. Alternatively, call 101 and we will arrange for an officer to come and see you.
The sooner you report it the better, so that we can get the best physical evidence possible. However, we can still help if more time has passed, even if the incident happened years ago - historic offences reported to the police can still lead to a conviction of the offender.
What happens next?
What happens next will depend on how recently the alleged incident happened and the wishes of the person reporting it.
Subject to their wishes and the timescales since the incident, the victim may be taken to Serenity (the county's Sexual Assault Referral Centre) for medical examination, interview and support.
If there is enough evidence to identify and locate the suspect, they will be arrested. The suspect may also be medically examined at the police station for physical evidence linking them to the crime, and they will be interviewed.
Rapes are investigated by detectives with specialist skills who are able to gather evidence from a variety of different sources, including witnesses, CCTV and forensic material. The detective responsible for the investigation will present all the evidence together in a case file for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to review.
If there is sufficient evidence, the CPS will give the police authority to charge the suspect, who may be bailed or remanded in custody until the date of their trial.