If you have been forced to have sex (with a stranger or someone you know) and did not freely consent, then it is rape.
Rape and sexual assault are very serious crimes which can happen to anyone; women; men and children. The most important thing to remember is that it is not your fault.
It doesn’t matter:
- what you were wearing
- how much you had to drink
- whether it was in your home or elsewhere
- whether you are in a relationship, married or single.
If you did not consent then the blame rests entirely with the perpetrator.
Sexual assault is a crime that can be committed by both men and women against men or women.
A crime has been committed if any of the following occurs when you don't want it to:
- having objects or body parts (excluding the penis) inserted into your vagina or anus
- being touched in a sexual way that makes you feel uncomfortable or frightened
- being sent sexual images via email, social media or phone ('sexting')
- being forced to watch other people have sex
- being forced to make or watch pornography.
If you’re the victim of rape or sexual assault, the police and other organisations are there to help.
If the offence has recently happened:
- Keep the clothes you were wearing and don’t wash them - the police may need them as evidence for the investigation.
- Try not to wash, bathe or have a shower, as there may be evidence which the police can use.
The next step is to get help:
- Go to a safe place such as the home of a trusted friend or family member.
- It is your choice whether or not to report the matter to police. If you do, the sooner it is reported the more forensic evidence can be collected.
- If you report the matter to police, you will be assigned a Serious Sexual Offence Trained Officer. They are experts in this field, available 24/7 and will explain what happens next.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to report it to the police, you can report it to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre, The Ferns. They can offer you medical support and advice.
Even if you do not wish to report the matter to police, it may still be important that you receive medical attention, so please ensure you visit a hospital's accident and emergency (A&E) department, your GP and sexual health clinic if appropriate.
The most important thing is that you do not feel you are on your own. We are here to help.
Cover your tracks
As you surf the internet, your internet browser will save certain information, such as the websites you have visited and images or publications you have downloaded. If you do not want people who may have access to your computer to know which websites you have been viewing, you should use a safe computer such as a friend’s, library or work.
There are different methods to hide your tracks and delete your history for each internet browser. We have provided information about how to delete your history from some of the most popular browsers, which can be viewed here.
It should be noted that if you are using someone else’s computer they may notice if you delete the computer history and cookies.
Disclaimer: If you don’t want someone to see that you’re viewing this website, you can click on the ‘escape’ button on the right, which will take you away from this page to the BBC news website.
Please be aware that the time it will take to load the BBC website will depend on your connectivity speed and device performance. It may be better to keep another document or website open in a new tab or window while browsing. If someone comes in the room and you don’t want them to see what you’re looking at, you can quickly switch views.