Support for victims of sexual offences

Date published: 04 January 2024 12:01

Full Stop

The Full Stop campaign aims to deliver clear, unambiguous messages to perpetrators of sexual offences, and challenges attitudes towards sexual offences.

The campaign reassures victims of sexual offences that support is available and accessible, when they feel ready to ask for it.

What to do if you’ve been the victim of a sexual crime

Sexual offences, including rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment, can have a devastating impact on the victim.

If it has happened to you, it is important to remember:

  • you are not to blame - the person who raped or assaulted you is to blame;
  • you do not have to cope on your own;
  • there are many support services that can help you. They know how difficult it is for people to come forward and will respect and believe you.

If this has happened to you, try and talk to someone you trust. It doesn't have to be someone in authority; just someone that you feel comfortable with.

How to report rape or sexual offence in confidence

If you have been raped, sexually assaulted or sexually harassed, you can report it to the police in confidence. You can do this by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency, or one of the other ways to contact us, detailed on this webpage. 

You will be treated with dignity and respect. Any investigation will be victim-focussed, ensuring that you are kept up to date throughout and provided with all the necessary support and information, which allows you to make informed decisions.

If you are not confident to tell the police yourself, you could tell someone you trust and feel comfortable with, or refer yourself through one of the specialist organisations listed below.

Additional support is available 

The links below will take you through to websites where you can access more support.

Charity Hestia and the Vodafone Foundation have created a free mobile app called Bright Sky to provide information and support. It's available in four languages and has a UK-wide directory of support agencies with contact details.

Find out more about the app here or search 'Bright Sky' on your device app store.

Have you experienced sexual violence?

Our ‘Next Steps’ booklet is a guide to support and reporting for survivors of sexual violence. It has been designed in partnership with other survivors and contains information around the options available when reporting a sexual offence and what specialist support is available to you, even if you do not wish to make a report straight away. In here is:

  • Information around the different stages of a police investigation and what you can expect along the way
  • How to report a rape or sexual assault that happened some time ago
  • What specialist support is available in South Yorkshire and how to access it
  • Answers to frequently asked questions and a glossary

You can read and download our Next Steps booklet here.

If you’ve ever experienced sexual violence or abuse, free, specialist and confidential support is available via the 24/7 Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Line.

The 24/7 Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Line is a free phone and online chat service, run by Rape Crisis England and Wales, funded by UK Government, for anyone aged 16+ in England and Wales who has experienced something sexual that they didn’t consent to or are feeling confused about.

The Support Line is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Specialist staff are there to listen, answer questions and offer emotional support.

Call 0808 500 2222 or visit 247sexualabusesupport.org.uk to chat online or find out more.

Rape and sexual assault victim national police experience survey

Victim-survivors of rape and sexual assault are invited to take part in an anonymous national online survey about their experience dealing with the police.  

The survey is designed to help understand how the police process feels to victims of rape and sexual assault. Findings will be used to help police forces nationally to improve victim support and better understand people’s experiences of reporting sexual violence.

It is open to those over the age of 18 who are the victim of rape or sexual assault where the case is being investigated by a police force in the UK.  Investigations can be at any stage – following the initial report, ongoing, or finalised.

The anonymous survey is part of a national Home Office funded research and change programme known as Operation Soteria Bluestone. It aims to understand and tackle the challenges seen in rape and serious sexual offences investigations.

Complete the survey anonymously online at https://cityunilondon.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4GikU2bi38jO0MS. An easy read version is also available online.

The survey will run until July 2024.

The information here may help you learn more about rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and consent.

What is rape?

Rape is when someone has sex with a person without their consent and does not reasonably believe that the person consents. Most rape victims are women, but men can be victims too.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault can cover a wide range of circumstances, but in the main it concerns the touching of a person by another, with a sexual motive.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is unwanted attention or unwanted 'sexting' (sending sexual messages and images). It can also include being coerced into watching or being involved in pornography, being subject to sexual bullying, or the victim of 'revenge porn'.

Any of the above crimes can be committed by a stranger, but it's more likely to be someone you know.

What is 'consent'? 

A person consents if he or she agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

Consent cannot be coerced, pressured or forced.

Consent cannot be assumed or ambiguous.

Consent cannot be determined by clothing or appearance.

Someone’s consent can change; it can be withdrawn at any time.

Your relationship with someone, such as being married or in a relationship, does not predetermine consent.

Being drunk, under the influence of drugs or unconscious means someone cannot give their consent.

The absence of the word ‘no’ does not mean someone gives their consent.

Sexual offences, including rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment, can have a devastating impact on the victim.

Touching someone with a sexual motive without consent is sexual assault. Having sex with someone without their consent is rape.

It is simple: if someone doesn’t want to, or doesn’t seem to want to do something; STOP. If you don’t, you have committed a crime.

If you have experienced a sexual assault, you are not to blame. It is the person that assaulted you that is to blame; please speak to someone you trust.