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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 at the RCS helpline 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 the RCS 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 the RCS Helpline or speak to a local rape crisis centre to find out more.

If you don’t feel like reporting just now, but think you could change your mind later, keep the clothes you were wearing at the time unwashed in a paper bag.

FAQ graphic

If you report the assault, the police will arrange a forensic examination as soon as possible and you will be taken to the Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS) closest to you. Here, you can get a Forensic Medical Examination (FME), and 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. Find out how to do this here. They will want to get as much evidence as possible, so if possible don’t wash, eat, drink, brush your teeth or smoke. Forensic evidence can be gathered within 7 days of an assault.

If you change your clothes, put them unwashed in a paper bag to give to the police.

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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