Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual act or activity. There are different kinds such as sexual assault, rape, female genital mutilation and sexual exploitation

Talking about a sexual abuse can be difficult. It's completely up to you whether you decide to report it to the police. If you do, they will do everything they can to make sure you get the right care and support. Whatever you decide, there are specialist organisations that can help and support you. You can:

How to tell the police

If you do decide to tell the police, the sooner you report an assault, the better chance the police have of collecting evidence.

  • If you're in danger, call 999. Otherwise you can call the police on 101
  • You can go to a police station and ask to speak to someone in private.
  • You can ask a victim support service to report the crime for you. This is called a Third Party Report. It will be anonymous so won't be investigated by the police, but it could help them to join up related crimes.

What might happen next

After reporting an assault you might be:

  • asked for the clothes you were wearing when you were assaulted
  • given a medical examination in private by medical staff at a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), such as The Saturn Centre
  • interviewed again by a specially trained police officer

How the police will help

The officer in charge of your case will talk to you about what other support you might need. That could include special measures at court, such as asking the public to leave the courtroom when you give evidence.

You can see the full list of support you're entitled to in The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime. This is a government document setting out everything you can expect from organisations like the police and courts. We have outlined the key entitlements in our Victims Code of Practice section. 


Historic Sexual Abuse

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is bringing its Truth Project to Brighton in January 2018. 

This inquiry is investigating how organisations in England and Wales may have failed to protect children from sexual abuse. The Truth Project is part of this inquiry and is an opportunity for any victim and survivor of child sexual abuse who feels that they have been let down by an organisation to share their experience in a supportive and confidential setting.  The experiences of victims and survivors will help shape the Inquiry's reports and research so they can better direct government and organisations on how to improve child protection in organisations and institutions across England and Wales. 

You can find more information on the Truth Project website.

Help and Support: 

You will be offered support before, during and after you share your experience with the Truth Project with a dedicated support worker. However, this support is time limited. There are local support services that you can self refer to which you can find details of to the right of this page or by using the search bar above.


If you haven't reported to the police, you can do so by calling 101, emailing or using the Report Online Form.

Your report will be taken seriously and you will be provided with support throughout the process.

I need more information

You can find more information in our Frequently Asked Questions about Sexual Abuse

If you are seeking asylum in the UK and have been harmed through sexual assault or sexual abuse, the NHS have created some information leaflets in different languages. 

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