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), or other sexual offences, such as groping, forced kissing, child sexual abuse or the torture of a person in a sexual manner.
Sexual assault is an act that is carried out without the victim’s active consent. This means they didn’t agree to it.

If you’ve been sexually assaulted

If you've been sexually assaulted, there are services other than Shine that can help. You don’t have to report the assault to police if you don’t want to. You may need time to think about what has happened to you. However, consider getting medical help as soon as possible, because you may be at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you want the crime to be investigated, the sooner a forensic medical examination takes place, the better.

Try not to wash or change your clothes immediately after a sexual assault. This may destroy forensic evidence that could be important if you decide to report the assault to the police.

Where you go for help will depend on what’s available in your area and what you want to do. For specialist medical attention and sexual violence support, whether you decide to have a forensic medical examination or not, your first point of call is a sexual assault referral centre (SARC).

In Newcastle your nearest sexual assault centre is:

Sexual Assault Referral Centre - REACH Rhona Cross Centre - Tel: 0191 221 9222

Newcroft House
Market Street East
Newcastle-upon-tyne
Tyne And Wear
NE1 6ND

Sexual assault referral centres

Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) offer medical, practical and emotional support. They have specially trained doctors, nurses and support workers to care for you. If you decide to report the assault to the police, they can arrange for you to attend a SARC for medical care and, if you wish, a forensic medical examination.

If you have not reported the assault to the police, you can still refer yourself to a SARC for assessment and medical treatment to prevent some STIs and pregnancy.

If you refer yourself to a SARC and are considering reporting the assault to the police, the centre can arrange for you to have an informal talk with a specially trained police officer, who can explain what is involved.

There are also specially trained advisers available in some SARCs or voluntary organisations to help people who have been sexually assaulted. These independent sexual violence advisers (ISVA) can help victims get access to the other support services they need. They will also support you through the criminal justice system if you decide to report the assault to the police, including supporting you through the trial, should the case go to court.

You can tell someone you trust first, such as a friend, relative or teacher, who can help you get the support you need. SARC services and ISVA support are free to all, whether a resident of the UK or not.

Confidentiality

Your details will be kept as confidential as possible. However, if there’s a police investigation or criminal prosecution linked to the assault, any material relating to it is "disclosable". This means it may have to be produced in court.

If there is no investigation or prosecution, information about you won’t be shared with other services without your permission, unless there's a concern that you or anyone else is at risk of serious harm.

How can Shine help?

A Shine worker can offer support to people who have recently or historically been sexually assaulted and no matter who the perpetrator was, whether you want to report to the police or not. She is here to listen and work closely with partner agencies such as REACH, Changing Lives and the police.
You will be able to discreetly talk about your situation to someone in a safe space; no judgement. The worker will be sensitive to your needs and move at your pace. It is not about telling you what to do but helping you to make informed choices. This is a free service and open to any female in Newcastle over 16.

Shine also offer training in schools and colleges and can deliver training sessions around sexual assault/ exploitation and consent. Below is a short video that is a useful resource and suitable from teenage years and upwards. 

Supporting a victim of sexual assault

Here at SHINE we can also offer support for relatives and friends of someone who has been sexually assaulted, but The Havens website has advice on what you can do to help. The advice includes: 

Don’t judge them, don’t blame them. A sexual assault is never the fault of the person who is abused.
Listen to the person, but don’t ask for details of the assault. Don’t ask them why they didn’t stop it. This can make them feel as though you blame them.

Offer practical support, such as going with them to appointments.

Respect their decisions – for example, whether or not they want to report the assault to the police.
Bear in mind they might not want to be touched. Even a hug might upset them, so ask first. If you’re in a sexual relationship with them, be aware that sex might be frightening, and don’t put pressure on them to have sex.
Don’t tell them to forget about the assault. It will take time for them to deal with their feelings and emotions. You can help by listening and being patient.

Local Support Agencies in Newcastle

Specialist ISVA - Arch North East

A specialist ISVA is someone who can offer support to people involved in the sex industry (aged 18+) who have experienced rape or sexual assault, whether you want to report to the police or not. She is here to listen and is based with Arch North east (http://www.archnortheast.org) a sexual violence organisation who work closely with partner agencies such as Shine, Changing Lives and the police.

An ISVA can support you whether the rape or sexual assault was recent or historical and no matter who the perpetrator was. You will be able to discreetly talk about your situation to someone in a safe space; no judgement. The ISVA will be sensitive to your needs and move at your pace. It is not about telling you what to do but helping you to make informed choices. This is a free service.

Tyneside Rape Crisis Centre

Sexual Violence Telephone Helpline and Email Support - Telephone: 0800 035 2794

Tyneside Rape Crisis Centre (TRCC) is a charity offering free, confidential services for women and girls over 13 who are survivors of sexual violence
Email: emailsupport@rctn.org.uk

Our Helpline and Email Support are available: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm

Friday between 11.00 am and 2.00 pm

Our multilingual helpline is available on Thursdays in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu. The helpline is open between 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm. 

Victim Support

08 08 16 89 111

We can help, regardless of whether you have told the police or anyone else about the attack. Our services are confidential available to anyone who's been raped or sexually assaulted – now or in the past. While our volunteers can visit you at home (if you want us to, and if doing so will not put you at further risk) or somewhere else if you prefer.

REACH

0191 2219222
Alternatively we can be emailed via: - reach@northumbria.pnn.police.uk  

R.E.A.C.H is able to offer victims of rape or serious sexual assault, who do not wish to make a formal complaint of crime to the Police, the opportunity to receive support in two ways:

  1. Access to a forensic medical examination - a fully trained "chaperone" is available to assist the victim
  2. Practical support from one of our team of ISVA's (Independent Sexual Violence Advisor) who can help with any issues you may be experiencing.

Supporting a victim of sexual assault

Here at SHINE we can also offer support for relatives and friends of someone who has been sexually assaulted, but The Havens website has advice on what you can do to help. The advice includes: 

Don’t judge them, don’t blame them. A sexual assault is never the fault of the person who is abused.
Listen to the person, but don’t ask for details of the assault. Don’t ask them why they didn’t stop it. This can make them feel as though you blame them.

Offer practical support, such as going with them to appointments.

Respect their decisions – for example, whether or not they want to report the assault to the police.
Bear in mind they might not want to be touched. Even a hug might upset them, so ask first. If you’re in a sexual relationship with them, be aware that sex might be frightening, and don’t put pressure on them to have sex.
Don’t tell them to forget about the assault. It will take time for them to deal with their feelings and emotions. You can help by listening and being patient.