What options are available to me?
If you’ve recently been raped or sexually assaulted, it’s understandable if you don’t know what to do or where to turn.
SARCS is a dedicated NHS service which can offer healthcare and support in the days after an assault, if you’re not ready or unsure whether to go to the police.
If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, you can report it to the police at any time. Details about how to contact Police Scotland are provided at the end of this leaflet.
Depending on when the assault happened, the police can support you to attend a SARCS, where the staff will look after your immediate health and wellbeing needs. For example, they can check if you’re at risk of pregnancy and can test for sexually transmitted infection. If the assault took place within the last 7 days, it may also be appropriate for you to have a forensic medical examination. This examination is carried out by a specially trained medical professional who may be able to collect evidence that could help the police to confirm the identity of the person who carried out the assault. This evidence may include bodily fluids or hair that belongs to the other person that has been transferred to you or your clothing.
Self-referral to a SARCS
If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted within the last 7 days and don’t want to tell the police, or are unsure about telling them now, you can self-refer to a SARCS. This means that you don’t need a GP or other healthcare professional to refer you to a SARCS, you can do this yourself.
If you self-refer, the staff will look after your immediate health and wellbeing needs. It may be appropriate for you to have a forensic medical examination. The examination will be carried out in the same way as it would if you tell the police.
The SARCS can collect certain forensic evidence and keep it for 26 months, in case you want to tell the police at a later date. If you choose not to tell the police, the evidence will be destroyed after 26 months. This self-referral service is for anyone aged 16 or over.
If you’re under 16, you can find information about where you can go for help at nhsinform.scot/SARCS
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