We know how hard it can be to tell someone that you have been raped or sexually assaulted.
You may be confused about what has happened, overwhelmed, emotional or numb. You may feel alone, angry, ashamed or frightened – these, and many other thoughts and feelings are all normal responses to being sexually assaulted or raped.
Our specialist team can offer you:
Emotional and psychological support
Medical care, including sexual health and emergency contraception
Free counselling for you, and family or friends
Information about making a report to the police
Anything you tell us is confidential and you can also speak to us anonymously
All Calls are Confidential – Call The Bridgeway on 0808 118 6432
You can call us for advice if you are worried about becoming pregnant after being raped or sexually assaulted.
We can also explain how to get emergency contraception or give it to you if you decide to come to The Bridgeway for a forensic medical examination.
Emergency contraception works best if it is taken as soon as possible. In some cases, the medicine can be taken up to 5 days after sex.
We know that sexual assault and rape rarely result in physical injuries. It is a different kind of violence that is committed against you. The police also know this. When you call The Bridgeway we will believe you and support you.
If you have been sexually assaulted recently and tell the police what has happened to you, they will offer to bring you to The Bridgeway for a forensic medical examination.
However, you can also come and have an examination without telling the police. The Bridgeway will store your samples in case you decide later that you do want to make a report.
When you arrive at The Bridgeway you’ll be met by a member of our specialist team. While you are here, they will make sure that you understand everything that is going on and ensure that the examination only happens if you want it to.
They will listen very carefully to what you say to them and will also notice what influence other people might be having on your decisions. You can change your mind about being examined at any time, including during the examination.
We know how important it is for you to feel in control of what happens to your body and we will do everything possible to support you in that.
When you are comfortable, a nurse or doctor will examine you to check that you are ok and look for DNA to support your case if you decide to report to the police. They will also talk to you about your sexual health.
The Bridgeway has female and male nurses and doctors. We will tell you if the nurse or doctor who is working when you contact us, is male or female. If you would prefer your examination to be provided by a nurse or doctor of a different gender we will try to arrange this as quickly as possible. Sometimes, it may mean waiting until the evening or the following day.
If your pain is internal it is unlikely that you have been seriously injured. It is a good idea to get checked out just to be sure but both the vagina and the anus heal quickly.
If you come to The Bridgeway for a forensic medical examination, our nurse or doctor will also check for any injuries. If you do not want to have a forensic medical examination, we can give you advice and help you to arrange a check-up somewhere that you feel comfortable.
If you are bleeding a lot or are in extreme pain, please contact us or go to your local Accident and Emergency Department as soon as possible, or dial 999.
You can call us to discuss any concerns you have about your sexual health after being raped or sexually assaulted.
It is important to have a check-up just to make sure – most STIs are easily treated with medicine. If you come to The Bridgeway for a forensic medical examination, a specialist nurse or doctor will talk to you and offer you medicine if that is relevant.
We can also arrange for you to have a sexual health check-up at your local sexual health clinic or with your GP. Whichever feels more comfortable for you.
If you are worried about the risk of HIV it is important to talk to someone about it.
At The Bridgeway, we listen, believe and do not judge. No-one has the right to have sexual contact with another person against their will or when they are unable to give consent because they have taken alcohol or drugs.
It is entirely your decision if you want to make a report to the police or not.
You can call The Bridgeway for medical care and emotional support now, then decide about talking to police later.
You can come to The Bridgeway for a forensic medical examination by a specialist nurse or doctor. They will check you are ok and take samples which The Bridgeway can store in case you decide later that you want to speak to the police about what has happened to you.
You can also bring clothes bedding or other items for us to store if you think there may be DNA evidence on them.
If you do not feel able to speak to the police about what has happened to you, it is possible to give them information anonymously. A member of our specialist team will support you to create a statement and we can give that information to the police without providing them with any of your personal details.
Sometimes the police call us after receiving this kind of information and ask us to contact you to see if you would be willing to speak to them informally. We will never pressure you into this, but in the past, people have told us that this has helped them to have confidence that they will be believed and taken seriously. They have then decided to make an official report to the police.
We will offer to arrange support from an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser. If you decide to make a report to the police, they will advocate for you while your case is investigated and make sure that you receive regular updates from the police. They will also make sure that you are well supported if your case goes to court.
An Independent Sexual Violence Adviser can also help with practical things. They might contact an employer on your behalf, help you to arrange meetings to sort out benefits or housing, or simply be someone to call if something related to your experience is worrying you.