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Rape and sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is a serious crime. It's never your fault and you can ask for support at any time. You could report it to the police, call the Sexual Assault Referral Centre or tell someone such as a friend or colleague.

Call the Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 0808 178 4448 for 24/7 support and advice.

 

 

What rape and sexual assault are

Rape is when your vagina, mouth or anus are penetrated by a penis without your permission. Sexual assault is when the following happen without your permission: being touched in a sexual way, penetration of the vagina or anus with an object or part of the body, being forced to take part in a sexual activity.

 

Report it to the police

  • Call 999 if someone's in immediate danger
  • Call the police on 101 for non-emergencies and ask for the Sexual Offences Investigation team

 

Our priority is to protect you and your family in the best way we can. We want you to feel safe and that might be by prosecuting the person(s) responsible for abusing you. The result of a successful prosecution might be a prison sentence or some form of community order.

We won't pressure you prosecute if you feel you can't and we'll make sure you get help and support whatever you choose to do.

Our Sexual Offences Investigation Team focus on all sexual assault cases in Hertfordshire. They give 24/7 support and advice.

 

Contact the Sexual Assault Referral Centre

We're based in Hemel Hempstead and are available 24/7 to speak to. Upon request, we can also book appointments to suit you and have an out-of-hours service for police emergencies. We're here to offer free support and practical help to anyone in Hertfordshire who has experienced sexual abuse or sexual violence. Call us confidentially on 0808 178 4448. You don't need to provide any personal details in order to get help.

Our specially trained female medical examiners will give you the option to have an examination, with your permission, and take samples which can help with any evidence. You'll be offered this even if you don't want to involve the police at this stage and you'll be supported by one of our crisis workers throughout. The medical examiner will explain what they're doing and you can ask them to stop or pause at any point.

Independent sexual violence advisors

Everyone coming to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre is offered the free service of an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor. They're friendly and professional support workers who can help anyone living in Hertfordshire over the age of 13, in the weeks and months after an assault.

Support workers can:

  • do an initial assessment of the support you need
  • help you access and work with organisations that can help towards your recovery
  • offer practical advice on your safety, health and wellbeing
  • give regular and ongoing support on the phone and face-to-face
  • give confidential and impartial advice that's not linked to the police
  • use their detailed understanding of the court process and the criminal justice system
  • be with you at police interviews or court proceedings
  • ask questions to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service for you.

To find our more call 0808 178 4448 or email us.

 

Tell someone – a close friend or family member

If you feel you can't go to the police it's still important to tell someone what's happening to you. This could be a trusted friend or colleague or you can speak to a local advice centre or helpline for support.

 

Stay safe – PLAN

Remember, always stick to the PLAN

P – Prepare

L – Look confident

A – Avoid risks and be aware

N – Never take safety for granted

Before you go out

  • Eat well before drinking any alcohol and don’t drink excessively before you go out
  • think about how you're going to get home – for example, travel home with a friend, check what time the last bus or train leaves, book a taxi from a reputable firm before you go out and never leave 1 person in a taxi alone
  • make sure someone knows where you're going and what time you'll be home.

When you're out

  • Never accept a drink from anyone you don't completely trust
  • don’t share or exchange drinks
  • don’t leave your drink unattended – there are special caps you can buy to go over bottles, but it has been known for people to dip a straw in a drug and then place it in the bottle 
  • when you buy a drink watch the person behind the bar pour it – try not to get distracted, as in a small number of cases it's been the person behind the bar who has targeted the victim
  • drink water as well as alcohol to keep yourself hydrated
  • make sure you have each other’s phone number and if someone goes missing you look for them as they may be in a vulnerable position and unable to protect themselves.

If you think you've been spiked

  • If you begin to feel really drunk after only a drink or 2 seek help from a trusted friend or a member of the club or pub management. It's important to get to a safe place as soon as possible
  • seek medical attention immediately and ask that blood and urine tests are done – most drugs won't stay in the system for long so early testing is vital
  • try to keep hold of the glass you were drinking from so that it can be tested
  • report it to the police as they can use your evidence to link any similar attacks and try to catch the person or people responsible
  • this needs to be done as soon as possible – testing can only be done up to 72 hours and with some substances this will still be too late.

Getting home

  • Get the taxi details before they arrive and ensure the driver knows what name it was booked under. Sit in the back, and carry a mobile phone or personal alarm
  • make sure the taxi you ordered is the one you get into
  • avoid danger spots like quiet or badly lit alleyways, subways or isolated car parks. Walk down the middle of the pavement if the street is deserted
  • if you have to pass danger spots, think about what you'd do if you felt threatened. Consider heading for a public place, somewhere you know there'lll be other people (a garage or shop for example)
  • if you're at all worried, try and stay near a group of people
  • avoid passing stationary cars with their engines running and people sitting in them
  • try to keep both hands free and don’t walk with your hands in your pockets
  • try to use well lit, busy streets and use the route you know best
  • whenever possible, walk facing oncoming traffic to avoid kerb crawlers
  • if you do have to walk in the same direction as the traffic and a vehicle pulls up suddenly alongside you, turn and walk or run in the other direction – you can turn much faster than a car.

 

 

 

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