What happens at the SARC
What happens if you decide to report the crime?
If you decide you want to report the crime, notify the police immediately. Reporting the crime can help to ensure your safety and the safety of other potential victims. See the website below if you would like more details about what is sexual assault/rape and how to involve the police:
Once you have reported, you will be offered a forensic medical examination if you have been assaulted within 7-10 days. Sometimes it may also be helpful to have one if the assault happened longer than 10 days ago. The examination is to look after your medical needs as well as collecting forensic evidence that can be used in an investigation of your assault.
It is important that the examination is carried out as soon as possible after the assault in order to capture as much forensic evidence as possible, so it is likely that you will be asked to attend the Oak Centre that day. If samples are taken, they are carefully collected, labelled and stored so they can be used as evidence. If you think that you might wish to go through with the examination, to preserve as much evidence as possible we advise the following:
Try not to wash, shower or bath
Try not to brush your teeth or use mouth wash
Try not to go to the toilet
Keep and do not wash any clothing and underwear worn at the time of the assault or shortly afterwards. Put them in separate bags if possible
Keep any sanitary protection worn at the time or after the assault
Keep any discarded condoms used during the assault
Keep and do not wash any bedding used during the assault
If the attacker drank anything, keep the unwashed glass or mug
If the attacker smoked cigarettes, keep any cigarette ends in a bag
If the attacker chewed gum, keep the gum in a bag in the fridge.
These may be difficult, but if you can do any of them, the evidence you preserve is likely to be very helpful if you decide to continue with your report to the police.
When you arrive
A police officer will bring you to the Oak Centre where you will be met by one of our Crisis Workers (CWs), who will welcome you into the waiting room and organise some refreshments. You can discuss any immediate worries or concerns with your Crisis Worker, and any urgent issues that arise will be dealt with immediately.
Then your Crisis Worker will explain what will happen when the doctor (Forensic Practitioner) joins you and what is involved in the examination. The examination will only take place with your signed consent and will be carried out in a sensitive and respectful way. Also, you can stop the process at any time or change your mind about an examination.
A specially trained police officer (Sexual Offence Liaison Officer, or Solo) will also be at the Oak Centre to meet with the doctor while you are with the Crisis Worker. The Solo will give some details of the assault to help the doctor consider what medical needs you may have and what samples to take during the examination. However, you may be asked about the assault further by the doctor so they can get all the necessary information. At this point the doctor will usually take your past medical history. You can do this alone with the doctor if you wish. The doctor and Solo will then leave the waiting room to prepare the medical room.
If you have any worries now, your Crisis Worker can discuss these with you so you feel comfortable about the examination. The role of an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) is also explained to you and you will be offered a referral to an ISVA. For this, your Crisis Worker will need to take a few details, including your name, date of birth and a safe telephone number and address, so that an ISVA can make contact with you in the next few days. You will have any necessary consent forms explained to you before you sign them. Your Crisis Worker will then ask you if you would like her or a friend or member of your family to be with you during the examination.
When you are ready the doctor will invite you into the examination room. The examination is carried out by a fully-trained and experienced, qualified forensic doctor. We understand – and it is completely normal – that you might feel uncomfortable about the examination, but every effort is made to ensure you are as comfortable as possible and understand what is happening and why. Remember, you can stop the examination at any time and your Crisis Worker or friend/family member will be with you throughout it, if you wish. The examination may include the following:
A head-to-toe check for injury
Measuring your height and weight
Taking a urine sample and/or blood sample
Carrying out a pregnancy test
Deciding with you if emergency contraception (morning-after pill) is needed
Deciding with you if any treatment is needed to help reduce the chances of your developing sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), HIV or hepatitis B infection from the assault
Deciding with you what forensic samples should be taken
All samples are passed to the Solo, labelled and bagged in accordance with very strict forensic procedures. Any clothes that might be needed as evidence are also put into police evidence bags and labelled along with what you wear for the examination.
The doctor will also write a brief report that will help in any investigation. If the investigation goes to court then the doctor may be requested to provide a statement, which is likely to include medical details.
The examination can seem frightening – many people worry a lot about it. Please remember that you are in control of everything that happens at the Oak Centre and we will take it at your own pace. You can stop the examination at any time, but you can also re-start it if you wish to. It may take a while, but we will discuss everything with you before we start and during the examination. You and your wellbeing is what is important to us, and we will ensure you are treated with dignity and respect throughout.
After the examination
Following the examination, your Crisis Worker will offer you a shower and provide you with toiletries and towels. Clothing can also be provided if yours are taken for evidence and you have not brought any of your own.
You can return to the waiting room and join any friends or family that you brought with you. Further refreshments will also be provided if you wish.
The doctor will then provide you with the medications discussed with you during the examination, if you choose to have them, and advise you on any medical treatment or sexual health screening required.
If you consent to a referral to a sexual health clinic of your choice, the doctor, together with your Crisis Worker, will fill out the referral form, detailing what has been done during the examination. This means that when you attend the sexual health clinic you do not need to answer too many questions about the assault or your treatment. Your Crisis Worker will ensure this referral is faxed to the sexual health clinic safely on the next working day, and then a nurse will contact you.
You can decide not to accept a referral to the sexual health clinic or you can allow the examination details to be sent, just with your name and date of birth, but without your contact details, and then you can arrange an appointment yourself, when you feel ready. We will always support you in whatever choice you make.
Your Crisis Worker will also provide you with a leaflet pack, which has some useful details about services in the area, including sexual health and counselling services as well as the Oak Centre leaflet should you need to contact us. When you are ready, either the Solo or another police officer will take you home.
You will usually spend a few hours in total at the Oak Centre, as we go at your pace and believe it is important that you don’t feel rushed.