Publication - Advice and guidance

Information and help after rape and sexual assault

Published: 22 Feb 2016
Part of:
Equality and rights, Law and order
ISBN:
9781785449895

Information pack for women and men over 16 who have been raped or sexually assaulted.

Information and help after rape and sexual assault
Section 1: Practical things to think about after an assault

Section 1: Practical things to think about after an assault

  • What to think about immediately
  • Your safety
  • Your health
    • Shock, injury and pain
    • Pregnancy
    • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Reporting to the police
  • Claiming compensation

What to think about immediately

Rape and sexual assault can be shocking and traumatic. It is important to look after yourself at this time. You may feel that the last thing you want to do is go to different places (such as health clinics and other services) or make difficult decisions but you may have to do so. You do not have to do everything at once.

As soon as possible

If you have any physical symptoms after the assault get medical help. You don't have to tell the doctor about the assault if you don't want to ( see below). However, the doctor will be able to advise you better if they know what happened.

If you think or are worried that your attacker might be in a high-risk group for hepatitis B or HIV ( see below), go to your GP or Genito Urinary Medicine ( GUM) or other clinic ( see Section 4 - GUM).

Women: if there is a risk of unwanted pregnancy take emergency contraception ( see below).

If you think you may have been drugged or had your drink 'spiked', tell the police at once. The police will then arrange for your blood and urine to be tested. The sooner samples are taken, the better the chance of drugs or alcohol showing up. If you need to pass urine, collect a sample and give it to the police.

If you want to report the assault, contact the police so that a forensic examination can be arranged to get as much evidence as possible. Do not wash, eat or drink. If you change your clothes, put the clothes you have removed into a bag and give them to the police ( see Section 3 - Recent assault).

You might not feel like reporting now, but you might do later on. So, keep the clothes you were wearing, don't wash them and put them in a plastic bag.

If you want to wash yourself, use safe products only. Don't use household cleaning products as they can be harmful.

Within two weeks

Go to your GP or Genito Urinary Medicine ( GUM) or other clinic for testing for sexually transmitted infection ( see Section 4 - GUM).

Women: do a pregnancy test ( see below).

At any time

Ask for help. You can phone any of the agencies in section 4. They have helped many people in your situation and you can speak to them in private.

Do what you can to feel safe ( see below).

Write down anything you can remember about what happened: what your attacker said to you, where it happened, whether there was a car involved, if there was anyone else around who might have seen or heard anything. These details may be useful if you report the assault. It is normal to not remember traumatic experiences in a linear order so, if details are not yet clear in your mind, just write down how you felt, what you heard and anything else that occurs to you.

If you want to report to the police, you can do so at any time ( see below).

If you believe you are in immediate danger of assault dial 999.

You are not alone and there are people who want to help you.

Your safety

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted you may be frightened, whether or not you have reported the assault and whether or not the attacker has been caught.

You have a right to feel safe in your own home, in your neighbourhood and at work.

If you are frightened, there may be things you can do to feel safer. We give some suggestions below. But it is important that you do what feels right for you.

Your attacker may have threatened to harm you or someone you are close to if you tell anyone what happened. You may also be worried about any friends or associates of the attacker or other people in your community.

If you do not want to report your attacker because they or someone else has threatened to harm you if you do, it is better that the police know this so they can take measures to make sure that you are safe. You may find it helpful to talk this over with an agency such as Victim Support or Rape Crisis ( see section 4). They can also help you if you decide to report the assault.

If you are in any way frightened, you should expect to be taken seriously if you ask for help.

If you are in any immediate danger, contact the police. You can phone your local police station (in the phone book under P) or, in an emergency, dial 999.

Thinking about safety

Do you have people around you who can support you and keep you company?

Think about how safe you feel today. Are things getting worse? Do you need help today? If so, is there anyone you can contact for help now?

If you do not need to do anything immediately, is there anyone you want to alert for the future?

It might be helpful to make a list of people to contact and their numbers, including agencies. That means if you are frightened or panicking at any point in the future, all the information you need to get help is already there for you.

Think about the place where you stay. Is there anyone nearby you could speak to? You could think about asking for a visit from the police to give home security advice so you feel safer.

If you live in a block of flats is there a friendly neighbour you can ask to keep an eye out for you or tell you if there's anyone hanging about? It's best if this is someone you can really trust.

Did your attacker get your keys, address or ID? Do they know where you live? If so, you may need to think about home security such as changing locks. The police can advise on this.

If your attacker knows where you live or is a neighbour or a family member, you may prefer to move somewhere else temporarily or for the long term. You may need emergency accommodation or want to apply to be rehoused elsewhere ( see finding somewhere safe to stay below).

Is your attacker your partner or ex-partner? If so, you could contact the police Domestic Abuse Liaison Officer ( DALO) and/or Women's Aid/Men's Advice Line for help ( see section 4).

Is there anything you need to think about in case of emergency? It might be helpful to make sure you keep your mobile with you, charged and in credit. You can phone 999 from most mobile phones even if you are not in credit. If you key in important numbers as speed dial you may be able to reach them more quickly. If you do not have a mobile phone and you feel unsafe, the police may be able to provide one for you.

If you leave your house, how will you do this? Do you need to take dependants with you? Do you have money put by for a taxi or for essentials? You might not have much spare cash, but any little you save helps.

Are there any times when you think you may be at risk? Is there anything you can put in place now just in case?

Staying in your home

If your partner is abusing you sexually, physically and/or mentally, you have a right to stay in your own home and to make your partner leave. You may be able to exclude a violent partner from the home and get a court order to keep them away from you. Some rights are not automatic so depending on your circumstances, you may need to go to court to enforce them. The law is quite complicated so you should first speak to an agency such as Women's Aid, Men's Advice Line, The LGBT Helpline or Citizens Advice Bureau ( see section 4) or contact a solicitor. You can find details of solicitors at www.lawscot.org.uk.

If you do not feel safe in your home or immediate surroundings, there may be other things you can do to make your home safer such as changing or improving the locks, installing a spy hole and security lights and changing the phone number. The police can give you advice and assistance to make sure your home is secure.

Finding somewhere safe to stay

If you do not have anywhere safe to stay or if you (or any dependants) are at risk from your partner, ex-partner or someone in your home or neighbourhood, you may be entitled to emergency and permanent housing. To find out more, contact your local council and ask for the housing/homeless department. You can also phone Women's Aid ( see section 4) or Shelterline on 0808 800 4444 or see http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.

Legal protection from an abusive partner or someone who is intimidating you

You can get legal protection from a partner or ex-partner or someone else. To get this, you need to apply to the court through a solicitor. You may be able to get an interdict to prevent someone from coming near you or threatening you. You may be able to get a non‑harassment order to stop someone from frightening or distressing you. The law is quite complicated so you should first speak to an advice agency such as Women's Aid or Citizens Advice Bureau ( see section 4) or contact a solicitor. You can find details of solicitors at www.lawscot.org.uk.

If your attacker is released on bail ( see Section 3 - Your safety during the investigation)

If you have reported your attacker and they have been arrested by the police and/or are awaiting trial, they can be released from custody on bail. This can be very frightening particularly if the attacker is your partner or if they live near you. Anyone who is granted bail must agree not to behave in a way which causes or is likely to cause alarm to you or other witnesses. However, the Procurator Fiscal ( see Section 3 - Prosecution process) can also ask the court to make special bail conditions, for example that the accused should not approach you or enter a certain address. If the court makes these conditions, and the accused approaches you or tries to contact you, they have breached their contract with the court. You should report this to the police immediately or get someone to do this for you. If any of the accused's friends or family approach you or try to contact you and you feel unsafe or intimidated, you should report this to the police immediately or ask someone to do this for you. Victim Information and Advice ( see Section 3 - VIA) will tell you if the court decides to release the accused on bail and the conditions of the bail.

If the person who attacked you is released from prison

If you are in any way concerned for your safety when your attacker is released from prison, contact the police immediately.

If the person who attacked you has been jailed it may be possible for you to register to be notified when they are due to be released ( see Victim Notification Scheme).

You have a right to feel safe.

There may be things you can do to feel safer.

You should expect to be taken seriously if you ask for help.

You can phone the police at any time. If you believe you are in immediate danger of assault dial 999.

Your health

Being raped or sexually assaulted can affect your physical and emotional health, so it is important to get medical help as soon as you can. You can get help and treatment without reporting the assault to the police. If the assault took place some time ago, it is still worth getting checked out. It is never too late to get help.

Many people who have been raped or sexually assaulted get help from health services without saying what happened to them. It is fine for you to do that. Even if you tell, you should not have to go over what happened in detail. The reason health staff ask you questions is so that they can work out the best way to help you. But you do not have to tell them anything you do not want to. Whatever you say will be treated in confidence. This means that information about you will not be passed onto anyone else without your consent, unless you are thought to be at serious risk of further harm. There are a very few exceptions. For example, if you are a young person under social work 'supervision', the health authority has a duty to tell the police.

It is important that you take care of yourself and get yourself checked out for your own peace of mind. Worrying about infection, pregnancy or other health matters can affect how well you recover from a sexual assault. It can also affect your relationships with the people around you. Also, early treatment can prevent long-term health problems or make them less likely. For some health matters (for example infection or unwanted pregnancy), the sooner you take action, the more choice and control you will have. Taking control is one way of helping yourself to recovery.

The trauma of what happened to you may mean that the thought of having to go through an intimate medical examination may be very distressing. It may put you off going for help. But it may be possible for you to get medical treatment without having to say what happened and without being touched by anyone. You can take a friend with you for support and you can ask to see a male or female doctor. Some clinics offer treatment without testing. Some offer testing and treatment, for example for chlamydia ( see below) by post. It is possible to test for some infections on a urine sample or a vaginal swab you take yourself, so you will not necessarily need to be examined.

The following section gives some ideas about where to go for medical help and treatment. Where you go will depend on what you prefer, where you live and where you feel most comfortable going. There are Genito Urinary Medicine ( GUM) clinics in most areas of Scotland. These cater for women and men and provide free, confidential services including testing for sexually transmitted infections and emergency contraception ( see Section 4 - GUM). Other suggestions are family planning clinics, young people's clinics, local health centres, GPs and, in the Glasgow Police area, Archway ( see Section 4 - Archway). If you are not sure where to go, you can phone the Sexual Health Scotland Helpline free on 0800 22 44 88 or see online at www.sexualhealthscotland.co.uk/.

You have the right to:

  • Decide what to say and who to tell
  • Have someone with you for support
  • Ask to see a male or female worker, depending on your preference
  • Confidentiality and privacy
  • Ask for information and explanations
  • An interpreter if your first language is not English
  • Decide whether or not to take any tests offered
  • Time to consider your options
  • Complain, if you are not happy about how you are treated

Shock, injury and pain

In the immediate aftermath of an attack or in the hours and days that follow, you may feel a whole range of things including shock, pain, anger, numbness and denial. You may feel none of these. Everyone is different and there is no correct way to respond.

Shock

Injury or trauma can result in shock. This affects people in different ways but common reactions are:

  • Uncontrollable shivering or shaking
  • Unable to sit down or relax
  • Crying without warning or unable to stop crying
  • Laughing hysterically
  • Being sick
  • Feeling numb, distant or calm
  • Unable to talk to anyone

If you are in shock it may be difficult for you to take in what is happening, or to remember the details of the assault. This is perfectly normal. It helps to:

  • Keep warm
  • Drink lots of fluids (non-alcoholic) but only if you are not reporting to the police as this could destroy important evidence ( see Section 3 - Recent assault)
  • Stay somewhere you feel safe
  • Have people you trust with you
  • Give yourself time

The effects of shock will pass but this may take less or more time depending on who you are, your circumstances and the nature of the assault. People all react differently. If you are in any way anxious about how you are feeling you may find it helpful to speak to your GP or a support agency ( see section 4).

Bleeding and injury

If you are bleeding or injured you may need urgent medical treatment. Even if your injuries do not seem serious, it may be useful to get a check up in case of any internal damage.

If you need emergency help, go to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department of your nearest hospital. If it's not an emergency, contact your GP for an appointment. Outwith surgery hours, you can phone NHS 24 on 111 if you think you need to be seen by a doctor or want to ask for advice (see also www.nhs24.com). You will get medical attention and support whether or not you want to report the assault to the police.

If you go to A&E and want to report the assault to the police, healthcare staff will contact the police for you. They will not examine you in case they spoil any evidence but they will treat injuries which need urgent attention.

If you go to the police and need urgent medical help, they will make sure you get this.

Pain

You may be in pain from an assault, sometimes in places where you do not remember being hurt. Sometimes the shock of what is happening means you block it out. Or you may have been unconscious or asleep at the time. Bruises may not appear until some time later.

Even if the assault is not invasive, you may feel sore and stiff because you were scared and stressed while under attack.

Pregnancy

The risk of becoming pregnant after a one-off assault is small. It depends on various factors such as your age; whether you usually use certain methods of contraception; whether the attacker used a condom.

Preventing unwanted pregnancy

If there is any risk of pregnancy, emergency contraception is available as a pill or a coil (intrauterine device/ IUD). A doctor can advise which would be best in your situation.

You can take the emergency contraceptive pill as soon as possible and up to 72 hours/3 days and, in some cases, up to 120 hours/5 days after the attack. You take one pill as soon as possible after the assault. The sooner you take this, the more effective it is. You can buy it over the counter in pharmacies. It is free from your GP, hospital, A&E and sexual health clinics.

The most effective way to prevent a pregnancy is by a doctor fitting an emergency coil (intrauterine device/ IUD). It may be effective and safe to use more than five days after the assault, depending on when this happened in your cycle. The coil stops an egg from being fertilised or implanted in the womb. It can be removed after a normal period or left in as a contraceptive.

It is important to discuss emergency contraception with medical staff, even if you think it is too late, because sometimes it isn't.

If you were pregnant at the time of the assault

If you know that you were already pregnant at the time of the assault, it is important to get checked in case you have picked up an infection ( see below). You can get advice from a doctor in a sexual health clinic or the doctor looking after you in pregnancy. Early treatment can get rid of or reduce the chance of any damage to the baby.

If you are concerned about the baby being harmed during the assault, it will be helpful to see your doctor or midwife who may be able to check that the baby is well, depending on how far on in the pregnancy you are.

It is important to let anyone who is caring for you know that you are pregnant so you are only given medication or have procedures done which do not harm the baby.

If there is a possibility that you might be pregnant, a pregnancy test can be done.

If you were already pregnant before the assault but didn't realise, the emergency contraception pill will probably have little effect on the foetus, but an IUD may cause problems. An IUD would only be fitted if there was no risk of pregnancy before the assault. Medical staff will be able to discuss this and answer any questions you have.

Pregnancy testing

If you think you might be pregnant as a result of the assault, it is best to get this confirmed as soon as possible. The sooner you know for sure, the more time you will have to decide what to do next. You can be tested by your GP, family planning clinic, GUM clinic and at some pharmacies. Pregnancy testing is free. You can also buy home pregnancy testing kits from any pharmacy. A pregnancy test can be done on the day your next period is due. It involves testing your urine. You should take a urine sample first thing in the morning in a clean dry jar and take it to the testing centre.

A positive result almost always means you are pregnant. A negative result may mean you are not pregnant but false negatives are fairly common early on. So, if it's negative but you still think you are pregnant, repeat the test a week later.

If you are pregnant, you may want to end the pregnancy or continue with it. You may have a clear idea about what you want to do but it may be helpful for you to talk over your options with a health adviser, for example at a GUM or family planning clinic or your GP. You should be given all the information you need to make your own decision about what you think is best for you.

If the result is positive and you want the pregnancy ended (abortion/termination), you need to act as soon as possible. Abortions are safer and easier within the first 12 weeks from the start of your last period. They are available free of charge through the NHS but are generally only carried out up to 18 weeks. Private clinics may have a later upper limit but you will have to pay for the procedure. Surgical termination involves surgically removing the contents of the womb; medical termination involves taking tablets.

If you want to continue the pregnancy, you can choose to keep the baby or have it adopted after birth. These are difficult decisions with long-term implications for you and the child. You may want to discuss the various options with an adviser and trusted friends or family. Your local social work department can give you information and advice about adoption. The social work department is part of your local council. You will find the contact details of your local council in the phone book.

Evidence of paternity

If you become pregnant as a result of rape or sexual assault and undergo a surgical termination of the pregnancy, it may be possible to obtain DNA from foetal tissue. This can then be used to confirm or refute paternity and may help with forensic evidence.

Sexually transmitted infections

Sexually transmitted infections ( STIs) can be spread through intimate sexual contact - through the vagina, anus and mouth. So, if you have been raped/sexually assaulted and your attacker did not use a condom, or if you don't know if they used one, it is important to get tested to make sure you have no infection. Also, STIs may have no symptoms so tests will show whether you need treatment.

Chances of infection

The chances of picking up an infection vary depending on the circumstances. It is not very common to pick up an infection from a one-off contact. If you do, it is likely to be one of the most common types, which are easy to treat. However, more serious infections are always manageable. It is best that any infections are treated early. The sooner you start treatment, the less damage they can cause.

Chlamydia ( see below) is very common while HIV, although many people are anxious about it, is not easy to pass on. The chance of being infected from a one-off exposure to HIV is very small. However, if you do get HIV, there is a huge amount that can be done to minimise its impact and help you stay well.

Testing for infection

Some infections can be tested for early on (after two weeks) while others may take some time to show up in tests (up to six months). Just because you have no symptoms does not mean there is no infection so it is important to be tested to make sure.

You may not feel able to cope with tests which may need samples to be taken from your mouth, anus or vagina (although it may be possible for you to take the samples yourself if you prefer). If you do not want to be tested, it is possible for many common infections to be treated with antibiotics without testing.

STIs can be tested and treated by your GP, Genito Urinary Medicine ( GUM) clinics and Family Planning clinics. You do not have to go through your GP to go to a GUM or Family Planning clinic. You can refer yourself. Treatment at GUM and Family Planning clinics is free and there are no prescription charges.

When you go to a clinic, you will be seen by a doctor/health professional who will take a case history. The doctor will find it helpful to know how you were raped/assaulted - vaginally, anally or orally - in order to discuss risks of infection with you, but you do not have to discuss the assault itself in detail. You can ask to see a male or female doctor.

Infections can be checked for by a combination of urine, blood and swab tests. Swab tests may be taken from the genital area (for women this requires an internal examination), the anus and the throat. This involves using something like a cotton bud to take samples from the affected area. This is not painful.

Some results can be given within a fortnight. Some infections are not detectable for several months, so you may be asked to return for further tests. The clinic may ask to take some blood for storage at your first appointment as a reference point for future tests.

Main sexually transmitted infections to be aware of

The list below describes the main STIs to be aware of. The commonest infection is chlamydia. Gonorrhoea and trichomoniasis are far less common. They can all be tested for two weeks after the assault by taking a sample from the affected area(s). They are all treated easily with antibiotics. Some infections take a while before they show up in tests.

Syphilis can take three months and hepatitis B and hepatitis C can take up to six months before they show up in tests. These require blood tests.

Immediate treatment for hepatitis B and HIV

If there is a risk that the attacker has hepatitis B, you will be offered immediate vaccination rather than waiting for the result of the blood test. Some clinics offer this routinely for sexual assault. There is an increased risk of contracting hepatitis B if the attacker is an intravenous drug user as it can be spread by sharing needles and equipment. Vaccination cannot prevent hepatitis C.

If there is a risk of HIV, it is possible to start a course of preventative treatment immediately. This is called post exposure prophylaxis ( PEP). It should be started as soon as possible after exposure and within 72 hours. There are side effects from this treatment so you will not be offered it unless there is a high risk of HIV infection. There is an increased risk of contracting HIV if you were raped/sexually assaulted on holiday in an area where there is a lot of HIV; raped anally (because of tearing) or experienced tearing during a vaginal rape; for men who are sexually assaulted by men; or if the attacker is in a high risk group. A doctor or health adviser can give you advice about this.

Increased risk

Risk varies according to who the attacker is, the circumstances and the nature of the assault. If there is a lot of trauma or bleeding then risk is increased. If the attacker used a condom, the risk is lower. So it is important to speak to a doctor or health adviser who can assess the likely risks and explain the best action to take.

If you are male and you have been sexually assaulted by another man, there is a slightly higher risk of some infections. Infections that are more commonly found amongst men who have sex with men are gonorrhoea, syphilis, hepatitis B and C, a more severe form of chlamydia and HIV.

Many men who are sexually assaulted feel embarrassed about reporting. Even if you do not wish to report to the police, it is important for your own health and the health of your partner(s) to get a check up at your local GUM clinic, where you can be advised about the risks of the different infections, checked and given treatment if needed.

Sexual contact

You may not want to have or think about sexual contact after the assault. If you do, you may want to use condoms until you have had the all clear from any tests.

You do not have to do everything at once.

You have a choice. You can take all the tests, some tests or none at all.

You can go to a clinic of your choice.

You can be treated without testing.

You do not have to give your name and address or any personal details to get treatment.

The infection(s) you are most likely to get are the ones which are easiest to cure.

You do not have to inform your own GP if you choose not to.

More about STIs

Chlamydia: very common but most people do not have symptoms. In women it can cause vaginal discharge and irregular bleeding. In men it can cause a discharge from the penis and pain when urinating. If left untreated it can produce pelvic pain, testicular discomfort and in some cases reduced fertility in women. It can be cured with antibiotics.

Gonorrhoea: in men it causes pain/burning feeling when urinating and a discharge from the penis. In women it may cause a vaginal discharge. It can be cured with antibiotics.

Hepatitis B: a virus which attacks the liver. It can be passed through unprotected sex but it is preventable with a course of three vaccinations.

Hepatitis C: a virus which attacks the liver. The risk of infection through unprotected sex is very low. Around one in five people who are infected clear the virus themselves. There is effective treatment which clears the virus in most people who complete the course.

HIV: a virus which weakens the immune system. People infected with HIV may not show symptoms at first, and if undetected it may lead to AIDS (Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome). A person is said to have AIDS when their HIV infection has caused severe suppression of their immune system resulting in one of a very specific group of severe infections or cancers. The HIV virus can be suppressed and the immune system successfully preserved by drug treatment, preventing people from becoming ill. However, there is no cure for HIV.

Syphilis: still very uncommon in heterosexual men and women, but increasingly common in men who have sex with men. It is an infection which usually begins with a small painless sore or ulcer in the penis or vagina. Often it can go unrecognised, and needs a blood test to detect it. It can be cured with antibiotics.

Trichomoniasis: an uncommon infection which may have no symptoms but which often causes a profuse yellow or green discharge from the vagina with soreness. Men usually act as carriers and do not show symptoms. It can be cured with antibiotics.

More information

Sexual Health Scotland Helpline: 0800 22 44 88 www.sexualhealthscotland.co.uk/

NHS 24: 111

Ask Brook: www.brook.org.uk/our-services/category/ask-brook (for under 25s)

British Association for Sexual Health and HIV: www.bashh.org

Directory of clinics by postcode: www.nhs24.com/findlocal/

NHS 24: www.nhs24.com

Family Planning Association: www.fpa.org.uk

Brook: www.brook.org.uk (includes secure online enquiry service for under 25s)

Reporting to the police

You can choose whether or not to report what has happened to the police. For some people, reporting their attacker and seeking justice is very important.

Other people do not want to tell anyone at all, far less report to an official body. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed; frightened about what the attacker might do; think they will not be believed; or be anxious about having to go to court and give evidence. If the attacker is a partner or close family member, they may worry about the effect on family or friends.

People may also be reluctant to report if they were doing something illegal at the time; there may be an immigration issue; or they may be involved in prostitution and think they just have to put up with it or that they won't be believed.

It may help to talk about any concerns before making a decision. You can to talk to a police officer first without giving your name. You can also speak to a support organisation ( see section 4).

In making your decision, it may be helpful to think about the following:

If you report:

  • This may stop your attacker from harming you again or from harming someone else
  • You may feel better by taking control and doing what you can to ensure your attacker accounts for the crime
  • You may be able to claim compensation for any injury ( see below)
  • The police will carry out an investigation. If, at a later date, you do not want to go ahead, your wishes would be taken into account but the police may continue the investigation
  • The police are committed to providing a sensitive service which takes account of the trauma of sexual violence
  • The law provides various ways to help victims of sexual violence who are involved in the prosecution process

If you choose not to report:

  • It is not your fault if your attacker harms someone else
  • The attacker is responsible for what they do
  • They always have a choice

But, if you do not want to report because your attacker or someone else has threatened to harm you if you do, it is better that the police know this so they can take measures to make sure that you are not at risk.

If you are not sure what happens when you report a crime to the police or how the legal system works, you can find out more in section 3.

If you know that you want to report to the police, do this as soon as possible. This is because the longer you leave it, the more likely it is that some evidence may get damaged or lost ( see Section 3 - Recent assault).

Even if the assault happened some time ago, you can still report it to the police. Some people do not report until years later. There may still be evidence to help the police continue with an investigation.

Whether you choose to report to the police or not, there are many organisations which can help you.

How to report

You can report by phone or go to any police station. You can get the details of your nearest police station in the phone book, yellow pages or online ( see below). Depending on the circumstances, police officers may come to wherever you are rather than ask you to come to a police station.

The police offer all those reporting crimes of sexual violence, who are over 16, a direct referral to Rape Crisis Scotland. If you accept the referral, Rape Crisis Scotland will contact you within three days to offer support.

In some areas, you can report a crime through another agency. This means that you do not have to contact the police direct. The agency does this for you. This is called Remote Reporting. To find out if there is a scheme in your area, and for details of agencies to which you can report, you can check details on police force websites ( see below).

You can take a supporter with you to the police station. This could be a friend or family member or someone from a support agency.

If you report the assault immediately, take a change of clothes with you in case the police keep the ones you are wearing ( see Section 3 - Recent assault).

You can ask to speak to a male or female police officer.

The police will provide an interpreter if your first language is not English.

You may choose to have an examination at the Glasgow Archway which has facilities to store evidence for a period of time to report to police at a later date ( see Section 4 for contact details).

Tell the police if you are worried about your safety.

You can get support whether or not you report to the police.

You have a right to be treated sensitively and with respect.

You have a right to complain if you are not.

Reporting is the first stage in the criminal justice process. It may not result in a prosecution.

Contact:

For details of your nearest police station, check your phone book (under P) or contact:

Police Scotland: www.scotland.police.uk/your-community

British Transport: www.btp.police.uk 0800 40 50 40

Third Party Reporting Centres: www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us/hate-crime-and-third-party-reporting/third-party-reporting-centres

If you believe you are in immediate danger of assault dial 999

Claiming compensation

You may be able to claim compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

This is a financial award to compensate for the pain and suffering caused by violent crime such as rape/sexual assault. In some cases, an additional payment can be made for lost earnings or special expenses directly resulting from the injury. The injury can be physical or mental. It does not matter whether the attacker is someone you know or a stranger.

To claim, you must report the assault to the police and cooperate fully with them. The attacker does not have to be caught or prosecuted for you to claim.

You apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority ( CICA). CICA advises that you apply as soon as possible after the assault. You must apply within two years of the assault (except in certain circumstances).

You can get free advice and help to apply from CICA by phoning the customer service centre ( see below). You can also get free help to apply from an agency such as Victim Support Scotland or Citizens Advice.

You do not need a solicitor (or other paid representative) to apply. If you choose to pay a solicitor or other representative to apply for you, you have to pay for this yourself. CICA will not meet those costs.

If you are on welfare benefits, these could be affected by any money you receive. An adviser from CICA or one of the above agencies can tell you more about this.

If your application is not successful or the award is less than you expect, you can ask for a review. If you are not happy with the review, you can appeal to an independent body, the Tribunal Service - Criminal Injuries Compensation. If you would like any help with this, you may wish to contact Victim Support Scotland or Citizens Advice.

You can get further information or apply online at www.cica.gov.uk.

CICA customer service centre free helpline: 0300 003 3601 (open from 08.30am-5pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 10am-5pm on Wednesdays).

You can write to them at:

CICA
Alexander Bain House
Atlantic Quay
15 York Street
Glasgow
G2 8JQ

Contact