Sexual assault help and support

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any sexual act that a person did not consent to, or is forced into against their will. It is a form of sexual violence and includes rape (an assault involving penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth with a penis), or other sexual offences, such as groping, forced kissing or child sexual abuse.

Read more about sexual assault and violence on the Brook website.

Getting help if you’ve been sexually assaulted

Oakwood Place Essex Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)

Oakwood Place offers free support and practical help to anyone in Essex who has ​experienced sexual violence and/or sexual abuse. Even if you’re not sure what support you need, you can contact them and they will either offer you an appointment or point you in the right direction of the appropriate service.

Visit the Oakwood Place website.

Southend-on-Sea Rape Crisis (SOSRC)

SOSRC, part of the Essex Rape Crisis Partnership, provides free, confidential specialist support for anyone who has been raped or experienced any other form of sexual violence at any time in their lives. Whether it happened recently or in the past, or even if you’re not sure what happened, you can find help to think through your options and next steps.

Visit the Southend-on-Sea Rape Crisis website.

How do I report sexual assault to the police?

You can report the assault to police by calling 999 or 101. A specially trained officer will speak to you about what has happened and will arrange for an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) to support and guide you through the prosecution process. Sexual assault is traumatic and it can sometimes take a while until you feel able to talk about it. Even if the assault happened a long time ago, you can still report it.

More information and support

You can also access counselling, support and guidance from:

  • Safeline: Safeline is an independent and non-discriminatory charity that provides specialist, tailored support for anyone affected by sexual abuse and rape.
    Visit the Safeline website
  • Rape Crisis (for women and girls): Rape Crisis is a network of specialist support and services for victims and survivors of sexual violence.
    Visit the Rape Crisis website
  • Survivors UK (for men and boys): Survivors UK supports those aged 13 and over with male and non-binary identities, or anyone who thinks we are the right fit for them, who have been sexually abused, assaulted or raped.
    Visit the Survivors UK website
  • GALOP (for anyone who identifies as LGBT+): Galop provides confidential and independent advice and support for LGBT+ people who have experienced sexual assault, abuse or violence.
    Visit the Galop website
  • Childline (for anyone aged 18 or under): Childline offers free, confidential advice and support whatever your worry, whenever you need help.
    Visit the Childline website

If you know someone who has been sexually assaulted

If someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, it can be a very distressing and confusing time for you both. You can help to support the person who has been assaulted by:

  • Making it clear that you are there for them.
  • Helping them understand what their options are and what happens next.
  • Accompanying them, if it is safe to do so, to the Oakwood Place SARC or police station nearest to them (if they want to report it to the police - this is entirely their choice and they shouldn't feel pressured).
  • Listening to them and supporting them through the recovery process.

Try not to feel upset if they don’t want to talk to you about what has happened - sexual violence can be very difficult to discuss, even with someone you trust.

It is important to support them to take whatever action they want to take, which might be nothing, in their own time as they feel able to do so and not to rush them into getting help.

Worried about a child?

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 for help, advice and support.