are available to men, women and children who live or have been raped or sexually assaulted within Cumbria. We are contactable 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We offer a safe and non-judgemental environment which focuses on the needs of you, the individual.
Telephone: 0808 118 6432
If you are in danger it is important that you call the Police on 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency
We can offer you an assessment with a specially trained doctor or nurse. There may be DNA from the person who assaulted you or other forensic evidence of the assault that can be collected during an assessment by the doctor or nurse. The thought of an assessment may seem scary and overwhelming, however it can be reassuring to get yourself checked medically and this can help provide evidence if you choose to involve the police at any point in the future.
During the assessment, you will also be supported by a crisis worker, who is there to help in any way that you need; explaining the examination process, talking with you, or simply making you a drink and sitting with you. Nothing will be done without your consent and without it first being explained to you. Medical examinations take place at our centre on the Penrith Hospital site, which is accessible for people with disabilities and has been specially designed for the needs of people who have experienced sexual assault and sexual abuse.
Why is it so important to think about having an examination now?
DNA evidence decays over time, therefore the earlier an examination takes place, the better the chance that evidence can be collected. This evidence can then be used by the police to build a case - even if you don't want to immediately report to the police, the samples taken can be stored and still be used later on within a police investigation. In general, it is less likely that forensic evidence can be collected after 7 days, although in some cases, an examination may be appropriate after this time where injuries are present. Whether you choose to report through the police or directly to The Bridgeway as a self-referral, the team can discuss with you whether a medical examination would be appropriate for you.
Once the window for collecting forensic evidence has passed, the evidence cannot be collected so it is best to contact us or the police as soon as possible.
What samples will be taken?
The details of the assault will determine the evidence that may be able to be collected. This may include clothing, documenting any injuries, hair combings, swabs from your skin, samples from your fingernails, intimate samples, blood or urine. If you choose to have a medical examination, you can take a break or stop the examination at any time. A crisis worker will be there to support you throughout your time in The Bridgeway, including during the examination.
The examination is not just about collecting evidence; the doctor or nurse will also treat any minor injuries and look after your general health and wellbeing.