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Rape and Sexual Assault


Being raped or sexually assaulted is a very distressing experience with effects that can be long lasting. Here is some generic information which can help you. The advice and suggestions that follow are relevant to both men and women. People who have suffered sexual attacks describe feeling:

  • Frightened
  • Guilty
  • Angry
  • Anxious
  • Shame
  • Depressed
  • Numb
  • Lacking self-confidence
  • Powerless

It can be difficult to talk to friends and family about what has happened; many people find it helpful in these circumstances to speak to a trained person in confidence.

Facts about rape and sexual assault

There are several myths around rape and sexual assault; one very important thing is to remember that is not your fault.

  • The majority of rapes and sexual assaults are carried out by someone known to the victim. They may be a friend, partner, workmate, neighbour or a person in authority. It is a myth that sexual violence is only or usually carried out by strangers.
  • Whatever the circumstances, rape or sexual assault either by a stranger or someone you know, it is never your fault. Nothing you have done or not done warrants sexual or physical violence. It makes no difference if you had been drinking or taking drugs; what you were wearing is also irrelevant. The perpetrator is always responsible for their behaviour.
  • Rape and sexual assault is about the use of power and force to humiliate, control, hurt or violate, rather than about sexual desire or passion.
  • Appearance, age, status, cultural background, occupation or previous relationships are irrelevant to this form of abuse; anyone can suffer serious sexual assault.
  • A large number of sexual attacks are pre-meditated.

What to do after a rape or sexual assault

Everyone reacts differently after sexual assault or rape, and your feelings may change from day to day. It is important to be aware that you may be affected in many different ways, both physically and mentally.

Many people will try to carry on as normal and not tell anyone for a long time after the event. However, distress often surfaces a considerable time after the event. No matter how much later, you can always seek help from counsellors, GPs, etc. Do not feel you have to cope on your own simply because you did not report the incident soon after it happened. It is important to talk to someone that you trust, so that you can begin to get support for what has happened.

Health Issues

Many people who have been raped or sexually assaulted are concerned about their health. Hospitals and GPs are able to see people on a confidential basis and not report the assault to the police, if that is what you request.

You may decide to be tested for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. If you prefer not to use your GP, pregnancy tests can be carried out at The Centre for Sexual Health in Leeds city centre or at a Pregnancy Advice Centre in your area. In addition, there are local Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics which offer free confidential advice, where testing can be also carried out for diseases and HIV infection. You may have bruising and other injuries that need medical attention from the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at a local hospital.

Leeds Student Medical Practice: – 0113 295 4488

Reporting to the police

Sexual violence is a criminal offence and you can report it to the police. However, it is your choice whether or not to report the assault to the police. You can do this later, if you wish, but the reason for reporting a sexual assault immediately is so that forensic evidence can be taken. Evidence will be collected by means of a medical examination by a police surgeon - who will be a GP employed part-time by the police. If the attack was physically violent the police forensic team may also wish to visit the scene of the crime to collect more evidence.

When you go to the police station you can take someone with you, such as a friend or professional worker. Ask for an officer who has had special training. Specially trained police officers will deal with you tactfully and sensitively. No one has the right to ask you to disclose any personal details about your previous relationships and sexual life.

If you have reported a sexual offence, you have the right to withdraw the complaint at any time. The police may require clothing to be left for forensic examination. The police station can provide you with other clothing, but it is a good idea to take a change of clothes with you.

If you are very traumatised after the assault, you may arrange another time for a statement to be made. If English is not your first language, the police can arrange for an interpreter to be present. The police officer will explain police procedures to you and give you advice and information of the next stages, including the court process.

West Yorkshire Police can be contacted on 0845 60 60 60 6 or 101
Elland Road Police Station, Elland Road, Leeds, LS11 8BU
Tel: 101
Opening times: Mon-Sun 8am to 10pm

If you would like support or advice but would rather not speak to a police officer there are other agencies that can help:

Plus Icon West Yorkshire SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre)

SARC is a jointly funded initiative between West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and NHS England aimed at improving the provision of services to victims of rape and serious sexual assault.

The West Yorkshire SARC offers a free, sensitive, confidential and non-judgmental service to both males and females, the staff are happy to support you and help you make decisions about who else you might want to inform. The service is available whether or not you decide to report the incident to the police. They aim to provide a safe and supportive environment to enable you to talk openly and freely. Contact with the SARC is completely voluntary.

To access these services or to obtain further information please contact the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) on 01924 298954.

Plus Icon Victim Support

Victim Support can help anyone of all genders affected by crime, not only victims and some witnesses, but their friends, family and any other people involved. Because they're an independent charity, you can talk to them whether or not you reported the crime to the police. They can support you without the involvement of the criminal justice system, and won’t contact them about you unless they feel someone is at risk.

Local victim care team in West Yorkshire on 0300 303 1971 (Lines are open 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5pm Saturday.)

If you need support outside of our open hours, call our Supportline for free on 08 08 16 89 111 or request support via our website.

Plus Icon Support After Rape and Sexual Violence in Leeds

Face-to-face emotional support appointments are available in the city centre women-only safe space during opening hours on Mondays from 6pm, Wednesdays from 6pm and Sundays from 2pm.

The support they provide face-to-face is exactly the same as on the telephone, text and email services. You can also telephone or email them for support.
Plus Icon Students' Union Advice Centre

If you have been a victim of any form of sexual assault or violence, the Advice Centre can offer you practical advice and support on what you can do next; they understand that you may not always want to report this to the police, but the SU Advice service can point you in the direction of places that can provide you emotional support and can help you in your next stages if you do choose to report what has happened.

Plus Icon Student Wellbeing Team

The Student Wellbeing Team offers a free and confidential service aimed at providing you with information, practical and therapeutic support to help you manage any difficulties you are experiencing. The team can advise you about reporting a crime and support you through the process as well as signpost you to other services that can help with emotional and practical support.

As well as offering one to one support a range of self-help materials can be found on the student wellbeing web pages.

Confidentiality

Leeds Beckett University, in line with other universities, has a duty to report any crime of which it is made aware of to the police. This is particularly important when other students may be at risk. Therefore a member of the university staff cannot keep information regarding rape and sexual assault confidential unless they are working within a formal counselling setting. The University will support any student wishing to make a report to the police.

The Student Wellbeing team is not subject to this duty and can offer completely confidential support within their normal code of practice. Contact us to speak to a counsellor in confidence to see how we might be able to help. The service has access to information on available community support.

Useful contacts

University Services

External Services (including, but not limited to)

  • West Yorkshire SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre): 01924 298 954
  • SARSVL (Support After Rape and Sexual Violence) - women only: supportafterrapeleeds.org.uk / 0808 802 3344
  • Victim Support: www.victimsupport.org.uk / 0845 303 0900
  • Rape Crisis: www.rapecrisis.org.uk
  • The Centre for Sexual Health: leedssexualhealth.com/services/merrion-centre
  • Connect Helpline: Emotional Support Helpline (18:00 – 22:30pm) - 0808 800 1212
  • Leeds Student Medical Practice: 0113 295 4488
  • Samaritans (24hours): 116 123 / 0113 2456789
  • Nightline (listening and advice telephone service): 0113 380 1381
  • Elland Road Police Station: Elland Road, Leeds, LS11 8BU - Tel: 101. Opening times: Mon-Sun 8am to 10pm

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