Rape & Sexual Assault

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, remember:

You are not alone. Women of all ages and in every walk of life are raped and sexually assaulted. The NUS Hidden Marks survey revealed that 5% of the respondents to the Hidden Marks survey had been raped and 2% had experienced attempted rape. 0.4% of respondents had been subjected to assault by penetration and 16% had experienced other unwanted sexual contact.

It is not your fault. The responsibility for rape always lies with the perpetrator. No woman deserves rape no matter where she was, what she was doing, what she was wearing, what she was saying, whether she was drunk or whether she was under the influence of drugs.

There is support available. This website contains information about national rape and sexual assault support services. Your student union will also be able to help you and point you towards any local support services. All of these services are confidential and will help you take the steps you need to move on.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted by someone you know intimately, see the domestic violence section.

‘Personally, it was difficult for me to name what I experienced (drunk partner assuming consent) sexual violence because it is something that we have talked about and worked through.’

- Hidden Marks survey respondent

Please click on a question to find the answers.

What is rape?
What is sexual assault?
I have just been raped.
Where can I find more information about rape and sexual assault?
What are the key rape and sexual assault services in the UK and what sort of support do they offer?
I would like to speak to someone about rape or sexual assault.
Can my student union help me?
How can I access free legal advice?

I am looking for a specialist rape and sexual assault centre in London.
I am thinking about trying counselling.
I would like information about drug-assisted rape or sexual assault.

I am a male survivor of rape or sexual assault.

I am thinking about reporting rape/ sexual assault.

How common are rape and sexual assault?

What is rape?

Rape is experiencing one or more of the following without your consent:

  • Assault by penetration (this means someone putting an object, such as a bottle, in your anus or vagina)
  • Sexual intercourse (this means someone putting a penis in your mouth, vagina or anus)

Please note: consent is legally defined as agreeing by choice and having the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

Legal definitions of rape and sexual assault

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is experiencing one or more of the following without your consent:

Please note: consent is legally defined as agreeing by choice and having the freedom

and capacity to make that choice.

  • Sexual contact (this could include kissing, touching or molesting you including through clothes)
  • Attempted sexual intercourse (when someone has tried to have oral, anal or vaginal sex with you but has not been successful)

Wake up to Rape

Opinion Matters surveyed a random sample of 1061 people in London aged 18 to 50 online to identify people’s attitudes towards rape and sexual assault to gain a better understanding of the emotional barriers which prevent people from being able to access support when they have experienced sexual violence.

Wake up to Rape summary report (2010): Click here to read

I have just been raped.

Click here for information on what to do if you have just been raped by contacting the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre. This helpline is based in London.

Where can I find more information about rape and sexual assault?

Rape Crisis

As well as information about Sexual Assault Referral Centres, the Rape Crisis website has valuable information about rape and sexual violence and information for family, friends, students and professionals.

Visit Rape Crisis by clicking here.

Rights of Women

Also read the Rights of Women Information for Survivors of Sexual Violence report – which you can read by clicking here.

What are the key rape and sexual assault services in the UK and what sort of support do they offer?

Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs)

SARCs are specialist 24/7 services for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. They aim to be one-stop services, providing the following under one roof: medical care and forensic examination following assault/rape, counselling and – in some locations – sexual health services. Services are free of charge and provided to men, women, young people and children. SARCs are mostly able to assist in the immediate aftermath of an assault but do not offer long term services that are provided by Rape Crisis Centres. To find the SARC nearest to you, click here.

Rape Crisis

Visit Rape Crisis by clicking here.

Rape Crisis (England and Wales) provides co-ordination for the national network of Rape Crisis Centres across England and Wales.

Rape Crisis Centres are frontline services providing crucial support and independent advocacy for all women and girls of all ages who have experienced any form of sexual violence. Rape Crisis centres aim to offer specialist support, advocacy, counselling and information to women and girls, free of charge and in confidence, in a safe and non-threatening environment. To find a centre near you, click here.

Please note: you should visit both links to find a centre near you, as your area is unlikely to have both a SARC and a Rape Crisis centre.

I would like to speak to someone about rape or sexual assault.

Phone the National Freephone helpline for female and male survivors of rape and sexual assault, partners, friends and family– 0808 802 9999 (open every day of the year, 12-2.30pm and 7 to 9.30pm)

This helpline is staffed by fully trained helpline workers and is aimed at those aged 14 years and over who are victims of rape or childhood sexual abuse as well as family, friends, partners of survivors and other professionals. Support includes:

  • Emotional support for survivors of sexual violence;
  • Practical information;
  • information for family, friends and partners of survivors;
  • Regional and national information resource;
  • Signposting to other agencies in the UK.

The Freephone number ensures complete confidentiality as the number will not appear on your bill.

Rights of Women

For free, confidential, legal advice on rape and sexual assault contact Rights of Women women lawyers on 020 7251 8887 (020 7490 2562 textphone). Open Mondays 11am-1pm and Tuesdays 10am-12pm.

To find out about your legal rights and reporting your experience to your institution or the police, visit the rights and reporting section of this website.

‘I haven’t been forced into sex before and I wouldn’t say I’ve been ‘unable’ to say ‘no’ as such, because if I had said no then I would have easily been able to get out of sex. But there is still a pressure to say ‘yes’ once you’ve gone a certain way…there needs to be a way for a woman not to feel guilty if she goes a certain way with a man and then decides to continue no farther.‘

- Hidden Marks survey respondent

Can my student union help me?

Yes. Your student union is designed to be your first port-of-call for resolving any problems you experience as a student and will be able to help you find the support you need. If your institution has a Student Advice Service, they will be able to direct you to the most relevant person or service. Alternatively contact the Welfare Officer, Women’s Officer or President of your Student Union.

Contacting your student union – click here.

How can I access free legal advice?

Read our Rights & Reporting section by clicking here.

I am looking for a specialist rape and sexual assault centre in London.

The Havens are specialist centres in London for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Staff are fully trained and very experienced. They are experts in advising, supporting and treating those who have experienced sexual violence. The havens support everyone, men and women, young people and children of all ages.

Services include:

  • Counselling
  • Psychological therapy
  • Emotional support

And we can refer you to other specific support services, if they can provide better help.

Our specialist medical teams offer:

  • First aid and advice
  • Emergency contraception
  • Advice and treatments for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • A forensic examination to collect evidence from the assault.

Remember – it’s entirely up to you which of these services you decide to use.

There are three havens in London. To find the one closest to you, visit the website by clicking here.

I am thinking about trying counselling.

For information about specialist rape and sexual assault counselling, please see the Rape and Sexual Assault Centre’s (RASAC) website’s section on counselling by clicking here.

All RASAC counsellors are fully trained and highly qualified in the field of sexual violence. This service is for survivors of rape or childhood sexual abuse who are over 14 years of age. To find a specialist counsellor near you please contact RASAC’s helpline – 02086833311 (Mon-Fri 09.00-19.00).

I would like information about drug-assisted rape or sexual assault.

The Roofie Foundation is the only organisation in the country that specialises in helping victims of drug-assisted rape and sexual assault. The Roofie Foundation helpline 0800 783 2980 is open from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm. The Roofie Foundation website has lots of information about drug facilitated sexual abuse and what the Foundation can do to help, including providing qualified legal advice.

Click here to visit Roofie.

I am a male survivor of rape or sexual assault.

Survivors UK provides information, support and counselling for men who have been raped or sexually abused. You can call the Survivors UK National Helpline number, on 0845 122 1201 open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays 7pm – 9.30pm.

Click here to visit Survivors UK

The website contains a wealth of useful information and links, recommended reading, a research area and news and media centre. The website also gives details of the support services offered, including face-to-face counselling and group therapy. The following page allows you to search for a counsellor near you – click here.

I am thinking about reporting rape/ sexual assault.

Click here to find out about Rights & Reporting

How common are rape and sexual assault?

‘What if you were absolutely hammered, don’t remember anything but when you “come round” someone is having sex with you? What does that count as?!’

- Hidden Marks survey respondent

How common are rape and sexual assault among women students?

5% of the respondents to the Hidden Marks survey reported experiencing rape. A further 18% reported sexual assault, 2% of which involved attempted rape.

How common are rape and sexual assault nationally?

  • 1 in 4 women suffer rape or attempted rape (Painter, 1991 – Survey of 1,007 women in 11 cities, Northern England)
  • A minimum of 80,000 women annually suffer rape and attempted rape yet only 1 in 8 of those women report the rape (Walby and Allen, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking: Findings from the British Crime Survey, 2004).
  • Based on the 2009/10 BCS self-completion module, approximately two per cent of women aged 16 to 59 and less than one per cent of men (of the same age) had experienced a sexual assault (including attempts) in the previous 12 months. The majority of these are accounted for by less serious sexual assaults. Less than one per cent of both women and men reported having experienced a serious sexual assault.
  • The majority of rapes – both reported and unreported – are committed by known men, and and the most common rapists are current and ex-husbands or partners (Painter, 1991, Kelly et al., 2005)
  • The Home Office estimates that the total cost of sexual offences committed in England & Wales in 2003-04 was nearly £8.5 billion

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