Sexual abuse

I've just been raped or assaulted - what should I do?

If you decide to report to the police, or if you want a forensic medical examination at the The Saturn Centre, time is an important consideration. If you want forensic evidence to be collected, you should try and go to Crawley Hospital (the Saturn Centre) straight away if you can, or at least within 72 hours of the rape or assault.

There are support services available, even if you decide not to report to the police. They will be able to support you with emotional and practical support.

What happens if I report to the Police?

If you contact Sussex Police they aim to carry out a thorough investigation with your welfare and safety as a priority.  They have a team of specially trained officers who will do everything they can to treat you and your family with care and sensitivity throughout any investigation, court proceedings and beyond.

You may also be asked to attend a sexual assault referral centre, such as The Saturn Centre. 

What is the Saturn Centre?

The Saturn Centre is a sexual assault referral centre and provides a range of services to anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted. Services are available to women or men.

They can provide immediate support, including a forensic medical examination, emergency contraception and emotional support.

You don't have to be referred. All you need to do is ring to make an appointment.

You can find further information on The Saturn Centre's website.

What is a forensic medical examination?

A forensic medical examination takes place at a sexual assault referral centre. If you are 14 years or over, this would be at The Saturn Centre. If you are under 14 years old this would be at the paediatric facility in Brighton (The Pebbles SARC).

The examination takes place to make a note of any injuries and collect possible evidence. 

There are three parts to the examination and you can stop or pause at any time.

1. They will ask you some questions about your medical history and your health.

2. They will then do a head to toe examination which may include an internal one as well. They will collect different evidence and talk you through this. This may be taking note of any bruises or cuts, collecting samples of urine, hair or blood, an internal check to take a sample, and they may ask to keep your clothing.

3. They will then discuss any other treatment, such as emergency contraception, that you may need.

A forensic nurse or crisis worker will answer any questions you may have and will try to make it as comfortable as possible for you.


It happened a long time ago - is there anything I can do?

It doesn't matter how long ago the rape or sexual assault happened, you can still report it to the police, if you decide to, and you can still access support.

What sort of help is available for victims of sexual abuse?

The main services available are counselling, emotional support, and advocacy services. There are also Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) who provide help to people who have reported to the Police and need support through the court process. They are available through certain support services.

You can find a local support service by typing in the search box at the top.


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