Rape and Sexual Assault

More funding needs to be put into services providing help and support for victims of rape. Some areas of the country are well covered with support services while other areas have little or no services and many services have long waiting lists. SupportLine itself is urgently in need of funds to enable us to keep providing support for victims of abuse.


I hope this section will be of some help and support to anyone who has been a victim of rape or sexual assault and anyone caring for them. This is such a despicable, horrible crime, which can have lasting consequences for the victim. However, victims can and do get through this trauma which takes enormous strength and a very positive state of mind, but it is possible to move forward with your life without the rape affecting your every day living. As every rape victim will know, there will be good and bad days but the abuser is worth nothing if he/she can inflict this ultimate degradation on another human being. You cannot allow your life and happiness to be destroyed by someone who has no respect or care for his/her victim.

Rape and sexual assault can happen to anybody and can affect victims in so many ways. There are so many feelings to deal with which can often seem overwhelming – fear, anger, confusion, numbness, difficulty in making decisions, shock, rage, disbelief, panic. Trauma can affect people in different ways, some people may become withdrawn, depressed, want to be alone, isolate themselves, others may have panic attacks and be full of fear not wanting to go out, some may carry on with normal everyday life, seemingly as if nothing has happened, others may display anger and aggression, - all this is normal – there is no right way or wrong way to be after rape – you behave how you need to in order to get throughand you need to do what feels right for you.

Staying in Control

Rape is very much about another person having control over you, so try and regain some sense of control in your life in the aftermath of rape. People can be very well meaning and try to push you in one direction or another, may try to make decisions for you, may tell you how you should or shouldn’t behave. You will have many decisions to make but try to stay in control of making those decisions as and when you want.

After Rape

Try and get as much support and help as you can even if in the first instance this is just a friend to sit with you so you are not alone. Shock can affect people in different ways and for this reason it is good to have someone you can trust with you. There are Helplines which will give information, help and support: SupportLine keeps details of Helplines and Rape Crisis Centres throughout the UK and can be contacted on 01708 765200 or by email to info@supportline.org.uk.

Try if at all possible not to wash or change clothes as this could destroy vital evidence.

It is each individual’s choice whether to report the offence to Police or not and nobody can or should make that choice for you. It may help to talk this through with someone you trust or a Helpline but ultimately the decision is yours. Some feel that by reporting this they are doing something positive in order to help the Police to put the abuser away where he cannot repeat his crime and not allowing him to do what he/she has done and get away with it, but others may feel that they do not want to take that action – you need to do what you feel is best for you.

Reporting to Police

If you decide to report this crime try to take someone you trust with you to the Police Station. It is a good idea as well to take with you a change of clothes. You will be asked to make a statement but the Police at this stage will not expect you to talk in detail and you will be allocated a police officer who will act as Chaperone and be the contact person to keep you advised of the progress of the case. You can request a female or male officer to talk to. The Chaperone will then go with you to the Victim Examination Suite as you will need to be examined by a doctor for evidence and samples will need to be taken which will include samples of saliva urine, blood, pubic hair, swabs will need to be taken from the mouth, rectum and vagina. You can request a female doctor or your own GP if he or she is trained in forensic practice. The doctor will advise you on getting tested for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If there are any injuries these may be photographed by a Police photographer – again you can request a female photographer. More detailed statements will be taken from you.

The Police will do their very best to make you feel as comfortable as possible. Again, try and stay in control of the situation. Request a break whenever you need one, - you need to do whatever feels best for you to get through this. Unfortunately it is a fact that the majority of prosecutions do not go to court. The CPS have to decide whether they feel they will get a conviction in order to take the case to court, many cases do not get taken to court due to lack of evidence. This does not mean nobody believes you, it means the CPS don’t feel there is enough evidence to get a conviction. You will still have done everything you possibly could to show the abuser that they have no right to abuse a person and get away with it.

If the CPS decide to go ahead and the abuser pleads guilty you will not have to attend court but if he pleads not guilty you will need to intend the court. The Victim support service can accompany victims to court as for many this can be a daunting experience. The Police will go through everything with you and the set up and working of the court will be fully explained to you before you need to attend.


As with any abuse the feelings you have inside you will often seem overwhelming and it may help in your own time to try and let those feelings out rather than turn them inward which many do which can invariably lead to damaging yourself.

Many victims of rape and sexual assault blame themselves, and are often made to feel by the abuser that it was their fault – many victims feel guilty because they didn’t fight back, they may blame themselves for going out, for trusting someone, for what they were wearing. It is so important to remember that the victim is NEVER at fault and NEVER to blame and the responsibility and blame is on the head of the abuser. Many victims choose not to fight back because if they did the chances are they would be hurt even more – you did what you had to do in order to survive. When you get negative feelings of guilt and blame remember – what would you say to a friend in the same situation who had been raped – you would tell her that it was the abuser’s fault and not hers and you need to befriend yourself – talk to yourself as you would talk to a friend.

Some victims feel dirty and ashamed. Try and separate the action of the rape from you as a person – what the abuser did made you feel dirty and ashamed – that does NOT make you a dirty person, or a bad person.

Some people agonise over and over again what they did wrong, what could they have done to prevent it – NO, you did NOTHING wrong, all you were doing was going about your everyday life which is your right, don’t allow the abuser to put the negative feelings on your head – let go of those feelings and put them where they rightly belong on the abuser’s head.

Loss of Confidence and Trust

It is perfectly normal for victims to lose confidence in themselves and may find it hard to go out and hard to trust people. Don’t force yourself but give yourself time, it is easy when something bad and traumatic happens to see the whole world as bad and everyone in it as bad. Don’t allow the abuser to take away your trust. Do everything you can to make yourself feel safe when you go out as safety will be an issue very much in the front of your mind so it may help to go out with someone, to have a mobile with you, to have a panic alarm, and even to learn self defence. All these things may help you to feel more confident in going out again.

I have heard many female victims of rape say that all men are bad – this is so sad. Most men are not rapists and most men would be just as disgusted as you or I at the very idea of rape or sexual assault. By not trusting people you may be protecting yourself from hurt but setting yourself up for loneliness, the inability to have fulfilling relationships and cutting yourself off from love and caring. It will take time to build up trust in people again but don’t allow the abuser to hurt you further by destroying any future relationships you may have or your ability to lead a normal happy life.

Intimacy after Rape

You may find that you find yourself pulling away from your partner, you may feel you don’t want to be touched you may not want intimacy of a sexual relationship. Resuming a sexual relationship with your partner may lead you to have flashbacks and panic. Some victims find the opposite that they may want to feel the closeness and safety of being with their partner. Everyone reacts differently and you have to go along with what feels right for you. After rape some people find that they have sex with multiple partners maybe because the act of sex has been devalued for them and has no meaning.

Partners can often feel very helpless and it is important that they too get support and have someone to talk to. Try and talk to your partner about what will help you to get through this, do you want to be hugged or not, do you just want to be held, do you not want any sexual relationship at the moment or if you are being intimate and you get a flashback how can your partner help you, do you prefer having the light on – try and explain if you can what he or she can do to help you and support you.

It is important to remember that rape and sexual assault is NOT the same as consensual sex/making love/being intimate with someone who cares about you. Rape is about having your choices taken away. Being intimate with your partner is something you can choose to do or choose not to do. You can ask your partner to stop and he/she would stop. You may find that some positions may now seem frightening to you and you may feel you want to use positions where you feel more in control over what is happening. If you are with someone who cares about you, loves you, respects you, that is entirely different from a man who is abusing you, who has no care or respect for you. An intimate relationship with someone you care for and someone who cares for you is entirely different from forced sex. Abusive sex is someone hurting you, having power and control over you, consensual sex is someone you choose to be intimate with, someone you are caring for and someone caring for you.

Be patient with yourself, time is a great healer and it may take time before you are able to be touched in a sexual way. Some find that massage can be a good way of having safe touch and rebuilding trust in a partner and only take things further when YOU feel ready, YOU need to be in control of your choices and decisions. If you find that you need help with this aspect of your relationship there are psychosexual counsellors who can work with you and also with your partner.

Do not allow your abuser to destroy the enjoyment of a fulfilling healthy sex life, do not give your abuser that power and control over your life. It is possible to have a fulfilling, enjoyable and happy sex life after rape.


Flashbacks and memories of the abuse can be common and it is the memories coming up which can no longer be repressed. It is important to keep reminding yourself that these are only memories, that now you are safe and in control and nobody is hurting you now. If you have a flashback try and ground yourself by clapping your hands, stamping your feet, looking around your familiar surroundings, listening to familiar sounds, reminding yourself that you are in the present, you are safe, you are no longer in that dangerous controlling situation.

Some people have images of the abuser come into their mind which can be very disturbing. Imagine you have a zapper in your hand, you point it at the abuser, and imagine him getting smaller and smaller shrinking in size until he is the size of a pathetic little ant crawling on the floor, imagine yourself getting bigger and bigger until you are the size of a giant towering over this pathetic little ant crawling on the floor, imagine with your shoe stepping on this ant and grinding it into the ground. You are the one in control, the abuser is no longer hurting you, he is pathetic, you have nothing to fear. Keep practising this technique as it can help you to regain a sense of control and lessen the fear involved with thinking about the abuser.

Some people may have nightmares and if this is happening to you, have something by your bed which will help to comfort you, a cuddly toy, a picture of somewhere relaxing you like to go, a photo of a loved one, it may help to have a night light on, and keep reminding yourself you are safe.

Helping Yourself to Heal

Patience – Be patient with yourself. There may be days when you don’t feel like doing anything or even getting out of bed. Don’t expect to be automatically functioning as you did before the attack, you have had a shock and need to give yourself time and be kind to yourself.

Physical health – It is important to look after your physical health because you will need all your strength to deal with the emotional stress. You may not feel like eating but try your best to eat something little and often if you can as going without food will make you feel weaker and tired.

Talking – One way of getting feelings out is talking about how you feel – this could be with a family member, a friend, a Helpline, a counsellor, in a support group – whatever you feel comfortable with. Some find it helps to talk to others who have been through rape and or sexual assault and this can be done also online through support forums if unable to access a support group.

Writing – Some people find it therapeutic to write down how they feel – this is a way of getting down onto paper your feelings rather than keep them inside you.

Poetry – Some find that poetry can be a good way of letting out how you really feel and many victims find this particularly therapeutic

Punching Pillows, Cushions – This can be a good way of getting out anger and frustration – a safe way which does not hurt you or anyone else.

Self Defence – This can be helpful in getting out anger in a safe way, and also can make people feel safer and more confident.

Exercise, walking, drama, painting, drawing – Again these are all good ways of expressing feelings.

Friends – Friends can be an important source of support, as a way of keeping a sense of normality in your life, even if you don’t feel like going out, just having the company of another trusted human being can be a source of comfort.

Work – Some may find that going back to work actually helps the person to cope and gives them something else to focus on other than the rape, for others they may find that they need some time off from work, and again, you need to do what is right for you. You need to be in control of your healing, your choices and decisions.

The Future

People can and do heal from the trauma of rape. Yes the memories may always be there but it does NOT have to affect your every day life. You have choices and you can choose to move forward with your life and choose not to let if affect your every waking moment. You can choose to make that step from victim to survivor – to moving forward with your life.

Please don’t allow the abuse to destroy your life. If you are reading this and have been a victim of rape or sexual assault and are destroying yourself please stop and think about what you are doing. YOU have NOT done anything wrong and you need to let go of those negative beliefs, you have every right to be happy and to lead a fulfilling and happy life. To destroy yourself is such a negative thing to do and there is help out there and there are people who will support you. You owe it to yourself to give yourself that chance. You once had your choices taken away but NOW you do have choices you can make, you are not now powerless, you do have control over your own life and you can choose what to do with your life.

Negative thinking will drag you down – positive thinking will give you the chance to heal and move forward with your life. Yes it can be hard to be positive in the face of trauma and pain but try every time you think something negative to counteract it with something positive.

Don’t allow the abuse to destroy your beliefs, your goals, your dreams, your ambitions, your relationships, - the abuser has hurt you enough – don’t allow him to keep abusing you by destroying your life. To get through rape and sexual assault makes you a strong person but use that strength in a positive way and not a negative way. You don’t have to go through this on your own and if you need help please ask for it.


The most common drug used to spike drinks is Rohypnol which has no taste or odour and is absorbed quickly into the body. Always keep an eye on your drink, never leave drinks unattended, accept drinks from a stranger, take your drink with you when you go to the toilet. If you feel slightly drunk only after one or two drinks and this is not normal for you, or you feel a bit sick, then it may be that someone has spiked your drink. If with a friend tell your friend to immediately take you home and stay with you until the effects of the drink has worn off. If you are on your own or with a stranger tell the landlord or the owner of the pub or club and ask him to call someone you trust. Never ever accept a lift from a stranger who could be the person who spiked your drink.

In spite of taking all the above precautions unfortunately people do get their drinks spiked by abusers who then go on to rape the victim. If you wake up and are disorientated, have a feeling something is not right, your underwear may be dishevelled or removed, you may have unexplained bruises and other injuries, you may feel sore in your genital area, then you may have been the victim of drug rape. It is your choice whether to report this and if you do go as soon as possible to the Police who should take a blood test and urine test and see a doctor whether you report it or not. The Roofie Foundation provides help and support to anyone who has been a victim of drug rape – and this can happen to men as well as women. Their details can be found in the organisation list below.

Organisations Providing Information and Support

  • Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority: Helpline 0300 003 3601, www.cica.gov.uk - In order to claim compensation the victim would have had to report the crime to Police and co-operated in the investigation e.g. by giving evidence or by helping police identify the suspect.

  • Dabs Pathfinder Service
    07854 653118
    Qualified counsellors available to help you find the help you need. This is not a telephone counselling service but a chance to talk over what sort of help or counselling would suit you best. Provides information on specialist help available in your area and how to choose the right counsellor for you.

  • Directory and Book Services (DABS)
    07854 653118
    24hr answer phone helpline
    69 Woodberry Way, Walton on Naze CO14 8EW - Books relating to survivors of abuse available by mail order.

  • Family Matters:
    01474 536661

    Helpline and counselling for people of all ages who have experienced rape or childhood sexual abuse. (Counselling South East London, North East, North West and Mid Kent).

  • Female Genital Mutilation:
    National NSPCC FGM Helpline 0800 028 3550

  • First Person Plural: PO Box 2537, Wolverhampton WV4 4ZL, www.firstpersonplural.org.uk - UK wide survivor led association for survivors of trauma and abuse who experience dissociative distress, offers support and information to survivors, families and friends through a newsletter (subs £7/£10), optional contact list and meetings for survivors for members only.

  • www.helpforvictims.co.uk
    Whether you have been affected by crime - or you know someone who has - this website could help. It provides information about how victims and witnesses should be treated within the Criminal Justice System and offers advice for those affected by crime. Information and answers are provided by experienced professionals in the victim support field and this website is completely anonymous.

  • The Havens:
    020 3299 6900
    Service for anyone in London who has been raped or sexually assaulted (women, men, children). Centres staffed by specifically trained experienced professionals who give medical help and advice, counselling, practical emotional support, help with deciding whether to report crime to the Police, advice relating to pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease.

    There are three centres in London, at Whitechapel, Paddington and Camberwell.

  • Live Fear Free
    0808 80 10 800
    24hr support for victims of domestic violence and sexual violence.
  • Rape Crisis
    0808 802 9999
    See website for list of rape crisis centres. Also information and practical advice.

  • RASA Centre:
    0151 666 1392

    Helpline offering counselling information and support for all individuals who have been victims of sexual violence at any time in their lives. Face to face counselling in the Birkenhead, Liverpool, Sefton and West Wirral areas.

  • Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre: 0808 802 9999, www.rasasc.org.uk - Helpline support and information for survivors of rape or childhood sexual abuse through UK. Face to face counselling Croydon and surrounding areas.

  • Respond:
    020 7383 0700

    Helpline, counselling and psychotherapy for children, adults and elders with learning difficulties who are either victims or perpetrators of sexual abuse.

  • Rights of Women
    Rights of Women
    run Advice lines on Criminal and Family Law

  • SafeLine:
    Helpline for women 0808 800 5008
    Helpline for Men 0808 800 5005
    Young Peoples Helpline 0808 800 5007
    Help for female and male survivors of rape and sexual abuse.

  • Victims Information Service:
    0808 168 9293

    Telephone information line run by Victim Support directs people towards the most appropriate support available in their area. They can also provide information to people about their entitlements as victims and, wherever appropriate provide immediate emotional support to vulnerable people.

    The new website provides factual information about what happens after a crime and what help victims can expect, as well as information on Restorative Justice and how victims of crime can go about claiming compensation. There is also a function which allows people to search for the services available in their local area.
  • Victim Support:
    0808 168 9111
    Trained volunteers give emotional support and practical advice and can accompany victims to police stations and court if needed and help with application for compensation.

  • SupportLine: 01708 765200, email info@supportline.org.uk - Details of rape crisis centres and other services for victims of rape or sexual assault across the UK.

Useful websites


  • 'The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse'
    Wendy Maltz


Any male can be raped/sexually assaulted no matter his size or strength. In society men often have the belief that they are expected to be strong, to be able to defend themselves and for this reason many men often blame themselves for the abuse and turn the anger on themselves for not preventing what happened. Some men blame themselves if they didn’t try and fight back. Nobody asks to be raped and the blame belongs on the head of the abuser. A victim of rape or sexual assault does what they have to do in order to survive and often fighting back would result in additional pain and injury being inflicted – sometimes the best choice to be made at that time to survive and keep alive is not to fight back.

Some men feel guilty because they may have experienced an erection and some may have ejaculated. This does not mean that you enjoyed the experience but this is the body’s natural reaction to stimulation. Again – don’t take this guilt onto your own shoulders, the guilt belongs on the head of the abuser.

Some men may question their sexuality – does it mean they must be gay – NO – any man can be raped whether heterosexual or gay or bisexual.

Because of feeling that a man should be strong and not show emotion many men choose not to report the attack for fear of being seen as weak and sadly this also prevents many men from asking for help. There is now more acceptance and understanding that men too can be raped and there are specially trained police officers who can help male victims – it is important to remember that asking for help and recognising that you need some support is a sign of strength, not weakness. Unfortunately in many parts of the country the services providing help specifically for male victims are very few and far between and more funding undoubtedly needs to be put into this area so that male victims are not left unsupported, isolated and alone.

Real men do cry – it is not a sign of weakness to show emotion – and crying to release emotion can be therapeutic in itself. As a result of some men finding it more difficult to verbalise their feelings and emotions they are often keeping inside them tremendous amount of anger and rage and this may be dealt with by alcohol, drugs, self harming in some way or another. There are some services throughout the UK which provide counselling and support to male victims, there is also support available online on different websites, and also through telephone helplines. The information in the first section will be useful to all victims of rape whether female or male and it is important to find a way of releasing your anger in a safe way which won’t damage you or another person.

Remember the blame is on the head of the person who abused you, you did not deserve to be raped or sexually assaulted, you cannot allow the abuser to mess up your life and you owe it to yourself to get as much support and help as possible. I know we have had it reported from callers to our helplines that when approaching some services male victims have not had the help they have needed and have often had bad experiences of being ignored or not believed. If the first person you approach cannot help – then try another person until you do find the help you deserve to have. Believe in yourself that you will get through this – that is your best answer to the person who abused you – you will not let that person or persons destroy you – you deserve to be happy and to live a happy and fulfilling life and rape victims can and do move forward with their lives. You will need a lot of strength and a positive frame of mind but you have been hurt enough by the abuse and do not deserve to be hurt further by destroying yourself. Access all the help and support you can to help you to heal from the trauma you have experienced.

Organisations which provide support specifically for male victims of rape/sexual assault

(See also organisations listed under Victims of Rape and Sexual assault above, many of which provide help also for male victims)

  • Mankind UK:
    01273 510447

    Male rape support and resource service for men who have been sexually abused, assaulted, raped. National UK charity based in East Sussex offering telephone helpline, counselling and support, one to one, groups and support for partners and families.

  • Male Survivors London
    Peer to peer support group for male survivors of child sexual abuse and rape.

  • Male Survivors Trust
    Support and information to adult male survivors of child sexual abuse and adult rape, includes male survivors forum.

  • Sue Lambert Trust
    National Helpline 0808 808 4121

    Norfolk based charity supporting survivors of sexual abuse.

  • SafeLine:
    Helpline for male survivors of rape and sexual abuse 0808 800 5005
  • Survivors UK
    Helps male survivors of childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual assault/rape. Helpline is now delivered online, by text or by email only. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 10.30am to 9pm and weekends 10am to 6pm.
    Webchat can be accessed at www.survivorsuk.org
    Text chat by texting 020 3322 1860
    Email: help@survivorsuk.org

  • Victim Support Male Abuse Helpline: 0800 328 3623 - Helpline for male victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse

  • SupportLine: 01708 765200, email info@supportline.org.uk - Keeps details of other services providing help for male victims throughout the country.


Many of the services which provide help and support to victims of rape or sexual assault, will also provide counselling for partners of rape victims. For a partner to see someone they love traumatised by rape or sexual assault, will naturally bring up all kinds of feelings and emotions in the partner. Many partners feel intense anger at the abuser, anger and guilt at themselves for not being able to protect their partner, and it can help to have someone to talk to for yourself whether that be a friend, family member, helpline, counsellor. As a partner of a victim of rape you will need all your strength to support your partner and be there for them. Therefore, try and find a way of letting your emotions out in a safe way and get as much support for yourself as you can.

Your partner may not behave rationally, may one minute be bursting into tears – the next may seem to be going through the motions of everyday life as if nothing had happened. Your partner may have outbreaks of rage, aggression, anger, mood swings one minute and then be depressed, isolating herself and not wanting any kind of physical or sexual contact.

How Can you Help

Believe what your partner tells you and don’t ask too many questions or your partner may feel you do not believe what has happened.

Don’t question the actions taken by your partner in relation to the abuse – your partner took the action she or he felt necessary in order to survive what was happening.

Your partner may decide to report the crime to the police or may decide not to report it and this may differ from what you think your partner should do. Your partner needs to be in control of what is happening as a victim of rape has that control taken away so respect your partner’s choices and decisions.

Don’t force your partner to tell you about what happened, but let them know you are there if and when they do want to talk.

Ask your partner how you can help if they have panic attacks or nightmares, flashbacks, ask them what they want you to do.

Accept that your partner’s behaviour may be erratic and your partner may push you away and for some time may not want any kind of intimacy with you. Try to not take this as if your partner is rejecting you, your partner needs time to rebuild trust and confidence and needs time to heal from what has happened.

Be guided by your partner if she/he wants to be intimate and allow your partner to take control as much as possible and allow them to decide what they feel comfortable with and what they don’t feel comfortable with. Allow them to take things at their own pace.

Give your partner reassurance and always stop any sexual activity when your partner wants you to.

Find out as much information as you can on the effects of rape and sexual abuse and how you as a partner can support that person. This can be found from the internet, from books, and again, get support for yourself if you need it.

Useful websites


  • 'When You’re the Partner of a Rape or Incest Survivor'
    Larry Levine


It is terribly distressing for families and friends to see someone they love and care about in pain and suffering. It can make families feel completely helpless not knowing what to do or say. Giving your support and being there for your loved one is a help to the person who has been raped. If they want to talk then knowing you are there for them will be a comfort. However many rape victims find it more difficult to talk to people close to them and often this is to protect them from distress. Never force information from a victim of rape and accept that they may not be able to talk to you about what has happened. Be accepting of the fact that your loved one may have mood swings, may be depressed, may act as if nothing has happened, may cry constantly, may not want to leave the house, may have outbursts of anger – you can help your loved one by accepting how they are and not taking it personally if anger or frustration is directed at you. You may be able to help in a practical way by accompanying your loved one when she/he goes out in order to help her/him build up confidence and feel safer.

It will mean a tremendous amount just knowing that there is someone around who they trust, someone who loves and cares for them. You can always ask how you can help, if there is anything you can do. Someone who once enjoyed closeness and hugs may not want close physical contact for a while and again don’t take this personally, on the other hand someone who has been raped may want a comforting hug more than anything so don’t be afraid to ask if there is anything you can do to help. You may find that you yourself need some support and many of the agencies who provide support for victims of rape will also provide support to families and friends.

Useful websites

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