Sexual assault help and support

What is sexual assault?

A sexual assault is any sexual act that a person did not consent to, or is forced into against their will. It is a form of sexual violence and includes rape (an assault involving penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth with a penis), or other sexual offences, such as groping, forced kissing or child sexual abuse.

Read more about sexual assault and violence on the Brook website.

Getting help if you’ve been sexually assaulted

If the rape or sexual assault happened in the last seven days, you can go to your nearest SARC for a medical and forensic examination.

You don’t have to have a forensic examination, but it can provide useful evidence if you choose to report the crime to the police and the case goes to court. SARCs won't pressure you into contacting the police and they will store the results until you make your mind up about reporting. If you’d like to have a forensic examination, try to keep the clothes you were wearing at the time and don’t wash them, and avoid showering if possible.

The Lancashire SAFE Centre

The nearest SARC is The Lancashire SAFE Centre at Royal Preston Hospital, Preston. They provide forensic examinations, advice and comprehensive support services for women, men and children of all ages who make a complaint of rape or sexual assault.

Visit The Lancashire SAFE Centre website

I want to report an incident to the police

You can report the assault to police by calling 999 or 101. A specially trained officer will speak to you about what has happened and will arrange for an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) to support and guide you through the prosecution process. Sexual assault is traumatic and it can sometimes take a while until you feel able to talk about it. Even if the assault happened a long time ago, you can still report it.

More information and support

You can also access counselling, support and guidance from:

  • Safeline: Safeline is an independent and non-discriminatory charity that provides specialist, tailored support for anyone affected by sexual abuse and rape.
    Visit the Safeline website
  • Rape Crisis (for women and girls): Rape Crisis is a network of specialist support and services for victims and survivors of sexual violence.
    Visit the Rape Crisis website
  • Survivors UK (for men and boys): Survivors UK supports those aged 13 and over with male and non-binary identities, or anyone who thinks we are the right fit for them, who have been sexually abused, assaulted or raped.
    Visit the Survivors UK website
  • GALOP (for anyone who identifies as LGBT+): Galop provides confidential and independent advice and support for LGBT+ people who have experienced sexual assault, abuse or violence.
    Visit the Galop website
  • Childline (for anyone aged 18 or under): Childline offers free, confidential advice and support whatever your worry, whenever you need help.
    Visit the Childline website

If you know someone who has been sexually assaulted

If someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, it can be a very distressing and confusing time for you both. You can help to support the person who has been assaulted by:

  • Making it clear that you are there for them
  • Helping them understand what their options are and what happens next
  • Accompanying them, if it is safe to do so, to The Lancashire SAFE Centre or police station nearest to them (if they want to report it to the police - this is entirely their choice and they shouldn't feel pressured)
  • Listening to them and supporting them through the recovery process

Try not to feel upset if they don’t want to talk to you about what has happened - sexual violence can be very difficult to discuss, even with someone you trust.

It is important to support them to take whatever action they want to take, which might be nothing, in their own time as they feel able to do so and not to rush them into getting help.

Worried about a child?

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 for help, advice and support.