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Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline (6pm-12am) 08088 01 03 02
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Rape & sexual assault

Hallway illustrationWe provide free and confidential support to women and girls who have been raped, sexually assaulted, abused or exploited no matter when this has happened in their lives.

We support women whether or not they have reported to the police.

Women and girls of all ages and backgrounds experience rape and sexual assault, and it can happen at any time in their lives.

Because this is usually perpetrated by men they know, women and girls often choose not to report due to fear, shame or the feeling that they will be blamed or not believed.

If you have been raped or sexually abused or are supporting someone else who has, you can contact us for help and information. It doesn’t matter whether this happened recently or a long time ago.

You can phone our Helpline number on 0300 365 2001 or Rape Crisis Helpline (6pm – 12am daily) 08088 01 03 02.

I’ve just been raped. What should I do?

If possible, have any injuries treated by your doctor or at a hospital.

If there is a possibility of pregnancy you may want to take the morning after pill (up to 72 hours after) or have a coil fitted (up to 5 days after). To do this, go to your Family Planning Clinic or GP.

You can visit the Tayside Sexual & Reproductive Health Service at Ninewells Hospital (01382 425542) and Angus Sexual & Reproductive Health Clinic (01241 879753) offers fully confidential treatment. You do not need a letter from your doctor. You need to return for the results. You do not have to tell them you have been raped. You don’t have to give the clinic your real name and you could ask a friend or support worker from the Centre to go with you for support.

If you want to report what has happened contact the Police. If you require a forensic examination you will be taken to West Bell Street otherwise you will be taken to your local police station where your statement would be taken. You may want to take a trusted friend, family member or partner with you.

If you do not report the incident you could be supported to access the Sexual Assault Referral Network (SARN). This is available to you if you are 16 years old or over and have been raped or sexually assaulted within the last 7. The SARN is a joint project between the Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, Dundee and Angus (WRASAC) and NHS Tayside.

The SARN offers the opportunity for women to be referred for forensic medical examination following a rape and/or sexual assault who do not wish to report the incident to the police at that time. Having a forensic medical examination can mean that if you later (within 8 years) decided to make a report to Police Scotland that any valuable forensic evidence will have been stored.

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Why did it happen to me?

You are not to blame for what happened. There are many different kinds of sexual violence from flashing and voyeurism to sexual assault and rape. Sexual violence is what happens when someone does not consent to a sexual act. Sexual violence can happen to anyone, no one ever deserves or asks for it to happen.

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When it happened I just froze, why couldn’t I fight him off?

What happened is not your fault. People often assume ‘if it happened to me I would fight for my life’. Sometimes these assumptions are unrealistic and unhelpful. Some survivors are able to fight, others try to run and others freeze. These are all natural reactions when you are in situations out of your control. You can’t choose how your body will react when you are in danger. There are also times when the fear or threat of further violence makes it less safe to fight and resist. Being unable to fight someone off does not mean you agreed or make you in any way complicit with what happened.

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I don’t know how to cope with what happened. What can I do?

There is no right or wrong way of coping with sexual violence. Everyone has their own way of dealing with it. People often expect that after a rape or sexual assault that a survivor will be ‘hysterical’ but many remain very calm or even numb. How people cope in the long-term varies. This can depend on how long the sexual violence lasted for, how safe they feel in your everyday life, whether they are able to talk to people you trust or if they have had other support, for example from our centre or the RCS Helpline.

The very fact that you are reading this indicates that you are taking positive steps to find ways of coping.

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I keep having nightmares and remembering what happened, sometimes it’s as if it’s happening again and again. Am I going mad?

No, you are not going mad. This is a natural reaction to having survived a trauma such as sexual violence. When people survive such a dangerous event or have lived with sexual violence it is natural for the brain to replay what happened. Sometimes this is called ‘flashbacks’ – these can be memories in your mind, nightmares in your dreams, sensations on your body or even smells. The way you experience these will be individual to you and what has happened. They do not mean that you are going mad, but are a way of your mind trying to make sense of what happened. It is very distressing to relive it in this way. But by remembering, your mind is trying to find ways of moving on.

It won’t feel like it, but these memories or flashbacks are part of the healing process. It may be helpful to speak with someone at WRASAC or at the RCS Helpline. We can give you some practical hints for managing flashbacks and can support you to find ways of overcoming these memories.

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How long will it take me to get over it?

Everyone is different and many factors can influence how long it takes. These include the nature of the attack, how long the abuse went on for, who the abuser/s was/were and whether or not you feel safe now. How you cope and how you recover is individual to you. There is no set time in which you should be ‘over’ what happened to you. It’s important not to put pressure on yourself and to give yourself as much time as you need.

It can be helpful to remember that healing from sexual violence can mean that sometimes you have times which are better or worse than others and that this is natural. It can take a lot of energy to recover so it is important to make space for yourself to try to rest.

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I was raped recently and I’m worried about sexually transmitted infections, what can I do?

You can visit the Tayside Sexual & Reproductive Health Service at Ninewells Hospital (01382 425542) and Angus Sexual & Reproductive Health Clinic (01241 879753) offers routine testing and treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI).

You do not need to tell them what happened unless you wish to and you do not even need to give them your real name. The services are free and confidential. If any of your tests are positive for STIs, the clinic will provide you with the right treatment such as antibiotics. If you are having an HIV test it is worth considering when best to do this. This is because it takes 12 weeks for the infection to show up. You can also have these tests done by your GP (family doctor) but they have to record the test and the result in your medical record.

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I’m worried I might be pregnant, what can I do?

Depending upon when you think you may have become pregnant there are different options. You can take the Emergency Contraceptive Pill up to 3 days (72 hours) after the attack. An IUD, often called a coil, can be fitted up to 5 days (120 hours) and must remain inside you until the time of your next period. You can get Emergency Contraception from your local health centre / GP, sexual health clinics. You can buy the Emergency Contraceptive Pill from a pharmacy for £25.

If you are pregnant and do not wish to continue with the pregnancy, you can ask your GP or a doctor at a family planning clinic for a termination (abortion). It is your decision and no one has a right to tell you what you should do. It is about what is right for you. You can get advice / support from Care Confidential (Dundee Crisis Pregnancy Trust) by phoning 0300 4000 999.

We will be able to support you and give you an opportunity to talk things through if this would be helpful. No one at Rape Crisis will judge you.

UK law states that a termination can legally take place up until the 24th week of the pregnancy. However, in practice, it is rare for terminations to be carried out after 18 weeks of pregnancy. Early terminations are generally safer than later ones.

In order to arrange for a termination you will need to see at least 2 doctors. The first will refer you on to the second. If your own GP has chosen not to be involved in referrals for termination, they must refer you to another doctor or service that will.

If you are under 16, you have the right to a termination as long as the doctor who sees you decides you fully understand the procedure and its implications. Your parents do not have to be told.

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I’m scared I might see him again. What can I do?

Depending on who he is, for example, acquaintance, relative or stranger, you will have an idea of whether or not you are likely to see him again.

If you have reported the attack to the police and it’s going to court, it is an offence for the accused to approach you. If he does so you should report this to the police.

If he lives close by and continues to intimidate or threaten you, you can report this to the police. You can also consider applying for an interdict to prevent him from approaching you or your home.

If the sexual violence has been carried out by your partner or ex-partner you could consider approaching Women’s Aid for support, information and accommodation. Find links to local services.

If you are a young person aged 16+ and the abuse has been carried out by a parent or guardian, we can help put you in touch with projects which specialise in supporting young people affected by sexual abuse, some of which offer accommodation.

If you are a young person under the age of 16 you could tell any adult who has a responsibility to make sure you are safe. This could be a parent/carer, social worker, teacher, youth club worker, doctor. You are not to blame for what has happened and have the right to live in safety.

If the attacker was a stranger, you may be worried about seeing him, for example in town. This is a very understandable fear. It can help to think about steps you can take to make you feel more confident. This could be attending a women’s safety course, carrying a mobile phone, arranging to meet a friend, thinking about what times of day and what places feel OK for you.

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I am currently involved in prostitution – can I receive support from WRASAC Dundee & Angus?

WRASAC recognises that those involved in prostitution are often at high risk of sexual violence. The law in Scotland is absolutely clear – rape and sexual violence carried out in the context of prostitution is a criminal offence, and all survivors are entitled to exactly the same justice and support. There have been a number of successful prosecutions in Scotland in recent years of cases involving sexual violence against women in this context, and we have supported many women in prostitution who have been raped and sexually assaulted. We have a dedicated support service for women involved or at risk of prostitution called Vice Versa – you can also be referred to them for support if you wish.

If this has happened to you, we will be very glad to offer you support. If you are considering reporting what happened, we’ll be very happy to talk through any aspect of this that might be helpful.

We have a specific service for women involved or at risk of prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation. Vice Versa is a partnership project delivered by Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (WRASAC) and CAIR Scotland. Together we bring a range of specialist support services to you aimed at increasing your safety whilst involved in prostitution and supporting you to find routes out of prostitution if this is something you wish to do.

Vice Versa works closely with WRASAC, CAIR Scotland, Community Safety Wardens, Dundee Violence Against Women, Tayside Substance Misuse Services, NHS Sexual Health and Reproduction Services, Tayside Police and the Alcohol and Drugs Partnership.

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Is the way I’m feeling normal?

Everyone reacts differently to a traumatic event. Whatever you are feeling is a normal response to what has happened.

If you have been attacked recently you may be in shock, you may feel numb, unemotional, be in total disbelief, be crying, shaking, laughing or physically being sick.

  • You may feel to blame and responsible for what has happened.
  • You may be having nightmares or experiencing difficulties sleeping.
  • You may be “reliving” the events (Flashbacks), these can be triggered by a sound, situation or smell and can be very frightening (see our fact sheet on Flashbacks for more information).
  • You may have lost your confidence, trust in yourself and others.
  • You may be feeling worthless or have feelings of self-hatred.
  • You may be finding it difficult to cope with day-to-day life.
  • You may be feeling angry, irritable and short-tempered.
  • You may feel dirty and ashamed about what has happened.
  • You may be depressed, upset and tearful a lot of the time or may feel suicidal.
  • You may be afraid e.g. of people, places, being on your own.
  • You may be experiencing relationship or sexual difficulties.

This list is by no means everything you may be feeling and indeed you may experience none of the above. You may also be trying to cope by, self-harming e.g. cutting, burning, scrubbing using drugs (illegal or prescribed) and/or alcohol, comfort eating, bingeing, vomiting, starving yourself.

You may have forgotten and completely blocked out the memory of what has happened and these memories may have been triggered by the birth of a child the death of the abuser, the break up of a relationship or other stressful event.

You must remember that you did not ask for this to happen to you.

Many women find that speaking about their experience, although often difficult and painful, helps them come to terms with what has happened. Speak to someone you can trust or speak with someone at the Centre.

How long will it take for me to come to terms with this? For every woman the length of time it can take to come to terms with something like this is different. Other things can affect the time it takes e.g. having a good support network, friends, family, partner who is supportive. Don’t forget you don’t have to go through this process alone. Break the silence and share your thoughts and feelings about your experience with someone you trust, or speak in confidence to a trained support worker at our Centre. It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened your feelings are important.

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Is my child at risk?

In almost 90% of cases the abuser is someone that the child knows and trusts.

As a parent/guardian or carer you will want to be able to protect your child/children from abuse. It is important to realise that no matter what you do to keep your children safe if something happens it is the abuser who is responsible, not you.

Be aware of how your child/ren and behaving If you notice your child/children acting out of character, behaving differently don’t ignore it, speak to them, reassure them that it’s good to speak about anything that’s making them upset, angry or sad. It can be useful to speak about secrets and let them know that if they ever have a secret that makes them sad then it is better to share this with someone they know.

Be aware of how other adults and older children behave. Examples of this could include someone who is:

  • making inappropriate sexual jokes or suggestions
  • hugging, touching, tickling or wrestling with a child even when they don’t want this attention
  • being secretive about certain activities such as texting, emailing, internet activity (especially when to children)
  • Giving your children lots of gifts, taking them out, babysitting lots of children
  • Constantly allowing children and teenagers to get away with things
  • Ignoring social, emotional or physical boundaries
  • Teasing and belittling a child

Trust your instincts, ask questions if you still feel uncomfortable speak to someone about this.

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How can I protect my child?

What can I do?

  • If your child’s behaviour changes ask them if everything’s ok.
  • Teach your child about good, bad touch and that their body is their own.
  • Children have the right to privacy in dressing, bathing, sleeping and other personal activities, make sure all family members adhere to this.
  • Teach your child that it is ok to say no!
  • Let your child know that if something is wrong or they’re unhappy, sad it’s ok to speak to someone and to keep telling until someone listens.
  • Speak to your child appropriately about their bodies and try not to be uncomfortable with this.
  • Use the proper names for the parts of the body
  • Be comfortable about speaking with other adults about difficult things, speak to your friends about protecting children.
  • Speak up and question an individuals behaviour if you think it’s not appropriate.
  • Teach children about secrets and surprises – let them know that sometimes secrets may make them feel unhappy and that if this is the case they can tell and that surprises make you happy and soon everyone will know (e.g. surprise party)
  • Know where your children are going and who they are with, let them know you can always go and pick them up if they are not happy staying with a friends
  • Have the family PC in a public place and take an interest in what your kids are doing on the PC
  • Learn the basics about internet security to ensure your children don’t get access to inappropriate websites
  • Speak about how they can keep themselves safe when they’re outside, at their friends or online (People are not always who they seem online they can be pretend to be someone else)
  • Have a list of organisations and people you can call if you are not sure.

Speakeasy in Scotland – Courses for Parents: Parents and carers can take part in a free eight-week Speakeasy course where you will learn about puberty, sexually transmitted infections, contraception, keeping safe and talking about sex and relationships in the context of family life. Contact 0845 122 8676 to find out more.

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