Rape is penetration of the mouth, vagina or anus by a penis without consent, whether or not violence or force is used. Using drugs, threats or any other pressure to force someone into intercourse is also rape.

Sexual Assault includes non-penetrative sexual activity without consent or against the victim’s wishes.

Victims may be male or female, adult or child.

A crime has also been committed if any of the following occurs when you don't want it to:

  • Being touched in a sexual way that makes you feel uncomfortable or frightened.
  • Being sent sexual images via email, social media or phone ('sexting').
  • Being forced to watch other people have sex.
  • Being forced to make or watch pornography.

Help and advice

If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault, you should go to a safe place, maybe a friend or relative.

If you have recently been assaulted you may wish to report it to the police by calling them directly. If you are not sure about contacting the police please consider contacting your local Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).

You don’t have to report the assault but if you wish to do so, the sooner you report it the better chances of gathering forensic evidence. Friends and family are welcome for support at most referral centres. Also, the centre can store results until you decide what you want to do next.

If you do want to report the assault and wish to preserve as much evidence as possible there are some things you can do. Try not to wash or brush your teeth, eat, drink or smoke, go to the toilet, wash your clothes or clean up the space where the assault took place. Do not worry though if you have done any of these things or feel like you have to.

Seek medical attention for any injuries, whether you want to report it or not. You may also need emergency contraception, and you should be checked for sexually transmitted infections.

You can call a Rape Crisis Centre for support, they offer specialist counselling.

Local Facilities - Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)

SAFE Place Merseyside is the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for the Merseyside area.

It's really simple to access the SARC.

The first is through the Police. If you have been sexually assaulted, you can report this to the Police and they will arrange for you to visit SAFE Place for a forensic examination.

The second is by self-referral (without police involvement). All you need to do is call 0151 295 3550. An operator will take your details, in confidence and you will receive a call back from one of the trained Crisis Workers who can advise you and arrange a time for your appointment to visit SAFE Place if needed.

If you don't want to make that first call yourself or ask a friend to do it then you can ask any health professional or support worker etc. You could also confide in a student counsellor or tutor who could make the first call for you.

Victims of past assaults can also access the SARC.

It is best to attend the SARC as soon as possible, but within 72 hours is best as some medication can prevent HIV Infection and also to secure evidence. However, for males evidence can be secured up to 72 hours post assault and for females up to 7 days.

Services at a Sexual Assault Referral Centre include:

  • Forensic medical examination
  • Emergency contraception
  • PEPSE* if appropriate
  • Advice on screening for sexually transmitted Infections
  • Hepatitis 'B' vaccination
  • Referral to an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor and other appropriate support services
  • Informal discussion with a specially trained police officer (if requested)
  • Translation services if English is not your first language

*A course of treatment to help prevent the onset of HIV in those who are at risk (this must be administered within 72 hours of an assault)

If you were sexually assaulted weeks, months or even years ago (with or without reporting to the police):

  • Referral to an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor and other appropriate support services
  • Advice on Screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Informal discussion with a specially trained police officer if requested
  • Translation services if English is not your first language

Health Issues

You may be concerned about pregnancy or sexual transmitted infections (STIs) after sexual assault or rape. If you’re over 16, hospitals will see you in complete confidence and will not tell the police unless you ask them to. If you are under 16 most doctors will try to keep what has happened to you as confidential as possible. If you prefer not to use your own GP there are many clinics and also the SARC.

If you are worried about being pregnant after a sexual attack, you can get free treatment and advice from the SARC, family planning clinics, young persons’ clinics or your GP. You can get free and immediate testing and emergency contraception to help prevent pregnancy. If you chose contraception, it will either be the 'morning after pill' (which must be taken within three days (72 hours) of unprotected intercourse) or an emergency coil (IUD), which must be fitted within five days. You can also get emergency contraception at an NHS sexual health clinic such as Abacus.

Where can I get help or further information?

If the rape or sexual assault has occurred recently, you should call 999.

You can contact the Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 0151 295 3550 or find information at www.safeplacemerseyside.org.uk/home.htm

If you have been the victim of sexual violence, or if you know of a family member or friend who has, the police would prefer to speak to you on the phone (on 101) or in person.

If contacting the police online is the safest way for you to get in touch, complete the secure online reporting form.

Alternatively you can access further information at the Rape Crisis Centre.

You can also get support from an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor in your area.

Find support in my area

In an emergency call

999

In a non emergency call

101

Call Crimestoppers on

0800 555 111

Contact Stop Hate UK

0800 138 1625

ASBArsonGunPolice lineDrivingPeopleCyberDrugsStalkingHate