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What is Sexual Violence?

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), or other sexual offences, such as groping, forced kissing, child sexual abuse or the torture of a person in a sexual manner.
Sexual assault is an act that is carried out without the victim’s active consent. This means they didn’t agree to it. It is not uncommon for a victim of sexual assault to have no physical injuries or signs of their assault. But sexual assault is still a crime and can be reported to the police in the same way as other crimes.

What to do if you need help:

If you've been sexually assaulted, there are services that can help. You don’t have to report the assault to police if you don’t want to. You may need time to think about what has happened to you. However, consider getting medical help as soon as possible, because you may be at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmiitted infections (STIs). If you want the crime to be investigated, the sooner a forensiic medical examination takes place, the better.

Try not to wash or change your clothes immediately after a sexual assault. This may destroy forensic evidence that could be important if you decide to report the assault to the police.

The following services will also provide treatment or support, and can refer you to another service if you need more specialist help (such as a sexual assault referral centre also referred to as SARC):

Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) offer medical, practical and emotional support. They have specially trained doctors, nurses and support workers to care for you.

Services here to help:

  • Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre - Deliver a range of support services to women and children in Cambridgeshire who are survivors of rape, sexual abuse and violence.
  • Peterborough Rape Crisis Centre is committed to supporting and empowering female survivors of rape and sexual abuse, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexuality, age and other discriminatory factors respecting individual lifestyles through the provision of a confidential telephone help line, a face to face support service and other appropriate support mechanisms.
  • Victim Support - As an independent charity, we work towards a world where people affected by crime or traumatic events get the support they need and the respect they deserve. We help people feel safer and find the strength to move beyond crime. Our support is free, confidential and tailored to your needs.
  • The Survivors Trust - Living with the consequences of rape and sexual abuse can be devastating. At TST, we believe that all survivors are entitled to receive the best possible response to their needs whether or not they choose to report.
  • Women's Aid - We believe everyone has the human right to live in safety and free from violence and abuse. Women are the overwhelming majority of victims of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is a violation of women and their children’s human rights. It is the result of an abuse of power and control, and is rooted in the historical status and inequality of women in in society.
  • Survivors UK - We offer individual counselling, group work and helpline services from our base in Shadwell, London E1 for men who have been victims of domestic and sexual abuse.
  • Cambridgeshire Independent Sexual Violance Advisor (ISVA Service) - ISVA offers a Professional support and advise and a counselling service to survivors. Accepts Self and Professional referrals. An Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) is trained to look after your needs, and to ensure that you receive care and understanding. Click here for info about - who are ISVA, who are CHISVA and ISVA's Service Guide.
  • GALOP - LGBT+ anti-violence charity. If you’ve experienced hate crime, sexual violence or domestic abuse, we’re here for you. We also support lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people who have had problems with the police or have questions about the criminal justice system.


Mental health challenges are common but help is available and with the right support many people recover completely. Check out our Who Can Help Page for lots of services who are local and national!



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