Support for young people
The law when it comes to rape and sexual assault can be very complicated for children and young people. The information that follows will try to help you understand what rape and sexual assault is, as well as how we can help you come to terms with the physical and emotional affects both can have on you.
Rape is when a man forces his penis into the vagina, anus or mouth of another person when that person doesn't want him to do so; the law calls this 'without consent'.
Sexual Assault is a crime that can be committed by both men and women against men or women. Different types of sexual assault include:
Don't worry if this sounds confusing. The most important bit to remember is that being pressurised or forced to have sex when you don't want to is a crime!
Who should I tell?
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted in any form it is first important to remember that you are not alone. It is important that you tell someone as soon as possible and don't keep it to yourself. Telling someone what has happened means that you can get the support you need.
The person you talk to should be someone that you trust and feel comfortable with, maybe a friend, parent, GP or a school teacher.
You can also speak to the police who have specially trained officers to deal with these things. You can contact them immediately by dialling 999.
This may be difficult for you to do, but it is important that you try to tell them as much as you can about the rape or sexual assault. The police do understand how hard and distressing this can be and will take it very slowly. They can write down and record everything you say as it might be used in evidence if your case goes to court.
What is a sexual assault referal centre?
The Bridge is also known as a sexual assault referral centre or SARC. They house specialist doctors and people who can help following a rape or sexual assault. They will ask you about what happened and then examine your body to try and find evidence of what happened to you.
If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault it is best that you try not to shower before you go to any examination. Also try not to wash your clothes, go to the loo (although this may be difficult) or have a drink. Doing so could get rid of evidence, which might be helpful in a police investigation. Remember it is not the end of the world if you do so please do not worry or panic.
The most important thing we can do at The Bridge is to make sure that you are okay. They will advise you about how to deal with a possible pregnancy, check you for sexually transmitted infections, and sort out treatment if you have caught anything. They can also arrange for you to get support from local services.
It is important to remember that as a young person you do have the right to confidentiality, but if the professional person you have spoken to is worried about your safety they will need to speak to a doctor, psychologist or a social worker. Before they do this they will discuss this with you so you will have the chance to say how you feel.
You can discuss any worries that you might have about this and the person you have spoken to has to take your concerns seriously. Usually when someone does pass on private information about you it is because they are worried about you and want to make sure that you are getting the right support.
How will I feel and how do I cope?
A rape or sexual assault is often very frightening. Most people feel upset and find it difficult to cope. You may even notice a number of changes in your behaviour, how you think, feel and behave. These changes are very normal and for many people they only last a few weeks.
As you will understand rape and sexual assault affects every person differently. You will no doubt feel different and feel that life at home may also change. In some cases it can bring some families closer together and you may feel very comfortable and safe talking to your family about how you are feeling. However, some parents find it extremely hard to cope when their child has been assaulted.
You may feel that your parents may blame you for being assaulted or don't even believe you at all. When your parents behave like this it can be really upsetting and can leave you feeling very alone, confused and abandoned. It can be very hard to tell your parents that they are wrong and that they have hurt you with their comments. The Bridge has a dedicated young person's worker who can not only help you deal with what has happened but also help your family. We offer advice and sessions for you as a unit. You do not have to do this alone if you do not want to. And remember if you can't talk to your parents then call our young persons worker on 0117 342 6999.
Contacts and links
Confidential 24 hour emotional support service for any person in distress, crisis or at risk of suicide.
UK Helplines: 08457 90 90 90 (24 hours)
UK Textphone: 07725 90 90 90 (24 hours)
Confidential information and advice for anyone concerned about their own or someone else's drug or solvent misuse.
Freephone: 0800 77 66 00 (24 hours)
If you call from a landline the call is free and won't show upon your phone bill. Also provides translation service for non-English speakers.
Textphone: 0800 917 8765 (24 hours)
Free and confidential helpline that gives young people in difficult situations the support and information they need to decide what they want to do next.
Freephone: 0808 808 4994 (7 days a week 1-11pm)
Offers advice to under 18 year olds about sex, relationships and contraception.
Freephone: 0800 28 29 30 (7am-midnight 7 days a week)
Minicom: 0800 328 1651
NSPCC Child Protection Helpline
Runs a child protection helpline for any child or adults concerned about a child at risk of neglect, sexual, emotional or physical abuse.
NSPCC Child Protection Helpline: 0808 800 5000 (24 Hours)
Textphone: 0800 056 0566 (24 hours)
NSPCC Asian Child Protection Helpline
0800 096 7719 (Mon-Fri 11am-6pm)