A 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.
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 transmitted infections (STIs). If you want the crime to be investigated, the sooner a forensic 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.
Where you go for help will depend on what’s available in your area and what you want to do. For specialist medical attention and sexual violence support, whether you decide to have a forensic medical examination or not, your first point of call is a sexual assault referral centre (SARC).
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 SARC):