Less than 7 days ago

What to do next

If someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, it can be a very distressing and confusing time for you both. You can help to support the person who has been assaulted by;

  • explaining what their options are and what happens next
  • accompanying them to the Devon & Cornwall SARC (sexual assault referral centre) or police station nearest to them
  • helping them to feel safe
  • listening to them and supporting them through the recovery process

If they want to report to the police

Call 101 or 999. A specially trained officer will speak to you and to them about what has happened and will arrange for them to come to one of the  Devon & Cornwall SARCs where a doctor or nurse will check that they are OK and to look for forensic evidence. They need to do this as soon as the feel able to after the assault because forensic evidence becomes less reliable over time and cannot be used after 7 days.

They should try not to wash. We can still examine them if they have washed, but there will be more DNA evidence on their body if they feel able to wait until after an examination. We have private showers and toiletries available on site.

If they are unsure or need more time to decide about reporting to the police

Call us on 0300 3034626 or fill in a quick referral form. One of our specially trained staff will talk to them and you about what to do next and how we can help. We can arrange for a doctor or nurse to examine them and check that they are OK. You can accompany them throughout the process if it helps. We can also look for, and store, forensic evidence in case they decide to report to the police later.

This is entirely their choice and they shouldn’t feel pressured. They can decide to prosecute at a later date but we can only gather DNA evidence up to 7 days after the assault.

If they decide to proceed or are not sure, they need to try not to wash. We can still examine them if have washed, but there will be more DNA evidence on their body if they feel able to wait until after an examination. We have private showers and toiletries available on site.

How we can help.

  • Our friendly staff can explain what to do next and offer you, and them, support and guidance.
  • A doctor or nurse can give them a check up to see if they are OK.
  • We can gather forensic evidence, which will help the police prosecute the person who assaulted them.
  • If they are unsure whether to report to the police, we can store forensic evidence for two years to give them time to decide.
  • We can provide them with emergency contraception.
  • We can arrange for a sexual health check up.
  • We can arrange for an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) to support them with the police investigation.
  • We can also provide emotional support including counselling.