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Working to end sexual violence

Helpline 08088 010302

Reporting & legal

We know that the decision to report to police can be a difficult one.

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If you’re thinking about reporting and would like to talk this through with someone before you make a decision, you can talk through your options with a Support Worker from our helpline team or an Advocacy Worker from your local Rape Crisis Centre. They can explain what reporting involves, and what can happen afterwards. An Advocacy Worker can also be there for you throughout the criminal justice process - for example accompanying you if your case is taken to court.

It is sometimes possible to make a report somewhere you feel more comfortable, like a Rape Crisis Centre, this is something else an Advocacy Worker can give you more information about. Find out more about advocacy support here.

You might be worried about reporting if you were doing something illegal at the time of the assault. If you have concerns about approaching the police because of drug use, selling or exchanging sex, immigration status or something else, you can talk confidentially about this with a Support Worker on our helpline.

This video tells you more about what happens when you report a sexual offence, and explains each stage of the justice process in Scotland.

If you decide you want to report what has happened you can contact the police directly, or if you would like support to report you can phone our helpline or speak to a local Rape Crisis Centre to find out more.

Forensic evidence can be gathered within 7 days of an assault. If you report the assault within the forensic window, the police will arrange for you to have a Forensic Medical Examination (FME) at your local Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS).

They will want to gather as much evidence as possible, so if possible don’t wash, eat, drink, brush your teeth or smoke. Keep the clothes you were wearing at the time unwashed in a paper bag. As well as performing an FME, your local SARCS can arrange if appropriate, emergency contraception, sexual screening and discuss ongoing support options.

If you don't feel ready to report or you need more time to make a decision, you can self-refer to your local SARCS for an FME and other appropriate care. Find out how to self-refer for an FME here.

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If you do decide to report, tell the police if you think you may have been drugged or your drink ‘spiked’. They will arrange for blood and urine tests. Most drugs leave the body within 72 hours of being taken (some within 12 hours), so it's important to be tested as soon as possible.

These FAQs look at many of the things people ask when they have been assaulted and are considering reporting or have already done so.

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