If you have just been raped – or if you are with someone who has just been raped:
Your immediate safety If you are at home or in the home of someone else – has the attacker gone? If not, can you make yourself safe, contact a friend or family member or call the police? If you are in any danger call 999 immediately.
If you have just been raped or sexually assaulted it is important to consider the possibilities of injury, pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STI), and whether or not you want to go the police. We prioritise recent assaults and can provide a crisis appointment if required.
If you have any physical injuries, you should consider getting them treated by your doctor or local Accident and Emergency Department. If you feel worried or nervous it may help to take a friend for support. If the attack happened recently you may still be in shock and not feel any pain so if you are bleeding or have banged your head, you should get this treated.
Reporting to the Police
It’s your decision whether you want to report what has happened to you to the police or not. You can report to your local police station (you can ask to speak to a female officer if this would make you feel more comfortable) by calling 999 in an emergency or 101.
If you are considering reporting a rape or sexual assault which has just happened, the more evidence you preserve the greater the chance of conviction:
• Call the police as soon as you are able to – if you are in any danger call 999
• Try not shower or bathe – even though this may be your first instinct
• Try not to clean your teeth
• If possible call someone you trust, and see if they can be with you
• Do not change your clothes. If you do, put everything you were wearing into a paper or plastic bag and keep it somewhere safe – bag each item of clothing separately if possible
• Avoid eating or drinking, especially alcohol
• Don’t comb your hair
• Try to avoid going to the toilet until you have been examined. If you do need to go to the toilet, keep the tissues you use and put them in a plastic bag
• If the rapist used a condom don’t get rid of it
• Keep any sanitary products you were wearing at the time of the incident or used afterwards
Please don’t worry if the Police cannot detect much forensic evidence as they may find other kinds of evidence. Police Scotland advise scientific guidance states that semen is detected up to 7 days within the vagina, in the anus up to 3 days, mouth 48 hours and penis 72 hours. However, these are sensitive to things like drinking tea, mouthwashes, contact with other people, use of soaps, weather, and the type of contact during the incident.
You might not feel like reporting now, but you might in the future. So keep the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault, don’t wash them and put them in a plastic bag. There is no time limit for reporting the incident to the police.
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 days. The SARN offers the opportunity for people 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 and be able to be used as evidence in your report.
If there is a risk of pregnancy you may wish to seek emergency contraception from your GP, any pharmacy or the sexual health clinic. You can take the morning after pill (up to 72 hours after) or have a coil fitted (up to 5 days after). The Aberdeen Sexual Health Clinic is located at 50 Frederick St, Aberdeen AB24 5HY, Phone: 0345 337 9900.
If you know that you are pregnant, you may want to talk to someone about what to do next. If you are comfortable talking to your GP, they will go through the options with you, or you may prefer to talk to one of our support workers first. It’s important that you know about all the options available and make the right decision for yourself. You might decide you want an abortion or that you want to continue with the pregnancy. It’s your life, and nobody should try to pressure you into any decision. Access the support you need to make the decision that feels right for you.
Sexually transmitted infections
If you are worried that you may have caught a STI it is a good idea to be tested. If you do have an STI, treatment can prevent you from becoming more seriously ill later on. Some infections don’t display symptoms right away; only tests show them up. Contact the sexual health clinic to arrange for testing.
You may be in shock. This can show itself in many different ways. Everyone reacts and feels differently. You may feel numb, be shaking, laughing hysterically or being physically sick. You might continue with your daily routine as usual. Your feelings may keep changing over time, and whatever you are feeling is a ‘normal’ response to what has happened. You may feel it was your fault. It wasn’t. What happened to you should not have happened. Try to be patient and kind to yourself. Remember you are not responsible for anyone else’s feelings or actions.