Support services and self-care should you need them

organisations preventing and responding to sexual offences

There are a large number of organisations working in the UK to prevent and respond to sexual offences and the harm they create and whilst we do not list all of them here, we thank each of them for their efforts and commend their work.

If you are communicating to a specific audience, we recommend that you always research the most appropriate services available for them as some services provide tailored support to individuals based on specific needs.

If you would like to seek help and support for yourself or someone you care about, we have included a small number of services here for your consideration:

Sexual Assault Referral Centres (sometimes called SARCs)

What it does:

SARCS offer medical, practical and emotional support to anyone who has experienced sexual harm now or in their past. They have specially trained NHS doctors, nurses and support workers who can provide medical treatment, sexual health advice and emergency contraception.

How to contact it:

Visit the NHS website and enter your postcode to find your local SARC.  You can also call the NHS on 111 and ask for the phone number of your local service.

Police involvement:

If an individual reports what has happened to them to the police, the police can make arrangements for that person to receive support from a SARC. If someone doesn’t want to speak with the police, they can contact a SARC directly. If someone isn’t sure whether or not they want to speak with the police, a SARC can offer them information to help them make a choice.

A SARC may (depending on when the sexual harm took place) offer a ‘forensic’ examination. In a forensic examination, specially trained staff will check a person for injuries, and they can also take samples from them which can be saved and stored for a certain amount of time. This means that if someone wasn’t ready to speak with the police but wanted to speak with them in the future, there would be evidence which could help the police with the investigation that they would need to do.

Victim Support

What it does:

Provides confidential emotional and practical support.

How to contact it:

Telephone for free on 08 08 16 89 111. Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Livechat and other online support is available at

Police involvement:

Victim Support provide support regardless of whether someone has told the police or anyone else about the harm they’ve experienced.

the police

What it does:

The police will aim to support individuals and they will also investigate what has happened to them. The police will try to gather as much evidence as possible, so that they can ask the Crown Prosecution Service to take an individual’s case to court. The police have officers who are specially trained about sexual harm. Individuals can choose whether to speak with a male or female police officer and they will explain the process for investigating a report and the options someone has available to them. Individuals who have experienced crime have rights in law and the police must keep individuals updated about their investigation as part of the national Victims Code.

How to contact it:

There are different police forces across the country and some offer livechat online, or email contact. To telephone the police you can contact them on 101 (non-emergency situations), or 999 (emergency calls only).

(Any victim of a sexual offence who wishes to complain about the way in which they have been treated by the police can find out further information from the Independent Office for Police Conduct website

Rape Crisis England and Scotland

Rape Crisis England

Rape Crisis England is the umbrella body for a network of independent Rape Crisis Centres. All member Centres provide specialist support and services for victims and survivors of sexual violence. They offer live chat, telephone support, and access to centres.

Rape Crisis Scotland

Rape Crisis Scotland works to transform attitudes, improve responses and ultimately to end rape and sexual violence in all its forms.

The Survivors Trust

What it does:

The Survivors Trust has 120 member organisations based in the UK & Ireland which provide specialist support for women, men & children who have survived rape, sexual violence or childhood sexual abuse.

self-care resources

You matter and if you have been affected by any of this content and would like some practical information to support you to look after your mental wellbeing, that is available from a variety of sources. We have listed just a few of those here: My Support Space by Victim Support provides a range of guides on issues including:

  • Trauma
  • How to leave an abusive relationship
  • Coping strategies
  • Adult survivors of child sexual abuse: seeking justice
  • Adult survivors of child sexual abuse: male survivors
  • Adult survivors of child sexual abuse: coping with trauma
  • Adult survivors of child sexual abuse: relationships and parenting
  • Adult survivors of child sexual abuse: understanding shame and guilt

Rape Crisis Scotland has produced a range of information to support individuals who have experienced sexual harm, including:

  • coping after sexual violence
  • healing from sexual violence
  • anger
  • dissociation
  • flashbacks
  • nightmares and sleep problems
  • panic attacks
  • relationships
  • self-harm
  • sexual health
  • suicidal thoughts and feelings

This information can be found on the Rape Crisis Scotland website at

Self-care information is also available from Rape Crisis England at

Please note that other self-care information is available from other sources.

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