I have experienced a sexual assault

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you are not to blame. The person who raped or assaulted you is responsible for this abusive behaviour.

There are many support services available to help you. We know how difficult it is for people to come forward and tell someone, but we would encourage you to tell a support service, a trusted friend, or a family member if you can. You don’t need to cope with this alone - receiving support at this time can help you to overcome the initial shock and disruption to your life.

The services mentioned below are specially trained to hold space for survivors and listen non-judgementally. They will respect you, believe you, and support you to make the right decisions for you. What you choose to do going forward is your decision and we will always support & respect your choices.

If the rape or assault was recent: 
If you’ve recently been raped or sexually assaulted, it is important to consider the possibilities of injury, pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), and whether or not you want to report the incident to the Police. This can feel overwhelming but there are a few key things to consider:
  •  Are you in immediate danger? If you are in immediate danger or seriously injured, you can call 999 (or 112 from a mobile)
  •  Find a safe space. If an incident has just happened, try and find somewhere you feel safe. If this isn't possible and you are concerned for your safety, you can call University Security 24/7 on 0131 650 2577 or call the Police on 999 
  • Do you have any injuries? If you have any physical symptoms after an assault you should seek medical help. If this is more than a very minor injury, or if you were unconscious for even a short time, you should go to Accident and Emergency or call NHS 24 on 111. If you can, it may be helpful to take a friend or family member with you. It is your decision how much information you provide, but the medical staff will be able to offer you better advice & treatment if they are aware of the circumstances.
  •  Do you want to report the incident to the Police? If you report the incident to Police or attend a Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS - see below) you may be asked if you wish to take part in a forensic examination to gather physical evidence & check for injuries . Police advise that forensic examinations are most effective within 72 hours but can take place up to 7 days after the incident. Bathing/brushing teeth can affect the results of examinations but it is understood that refraining from this is difficult and not always possible. If you can, keep the clothes you were wearing at the time of assault in a plastic bag as they may contain evidence. SARCS can provide forensic examinations whilst you are deciding whether reporting to Police is the right decision for you. 

SARCS is an NHS Scotland sexual assault self-referral phone service which can help you arrange care for yourself in the days following a rape or sexual assault. The service can arrange you to have a forensic medical examination within 7 days of the assault, without making a report to the Police. They can be contacted 24/7 on 0800 148 8888. For further information on services and follow up support offered, please click here.

Edinburgh Rape Crisis offer support as soon as possible to those who have experienced a recent rape or sexual assault (within 7 days). You can contact them by calling Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline on 08088 010302 (free phone, 5 pm – midnight every day), or by phoning Edinburgh Rape Crisis support line mobile on 07966067301, or on 0131 556 9437 by leaving a message for call back. They can also be contacted by email at support@ercc.scot

Survivors UK provide an online chat and SMS text service for men who have experienced sexual violence. Details can be found at www.survivorsuk.org. You can also call the Respect Men's Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.

The University has an Equally Safe Team to support students affected by forms of abuse. They can be contacted at equallysafeteam@ed.ac.uk where a face to face meeting/telephone call/Microsoft Teams meeting can be requested. The team aim to respond within 48 hours and can answer questions relating to sexual violence, domestic abuse & other forms of abuse, and can guide you through your support and reporting options. There is also a dedicated Rape Crisis Counselling Support worker that works with the University and we can help you access longer term counselling.

Talking about it

There is no right or wrong way of coping with sexual violence and everyone has their own way of dealing with it. People often expect that after a rape or sexual assault, a survivor will be “hysterical” but many remain very calm or even numb. How people cope in the long term varies. This can depend on how long the sexual violence lasted for, previous assaults/abuse , how safe they feel in their everyday life, whether they are able to talk to people they trust, or if they have had other support, for example, from the University (Counselling Service; Advice Place; specialist staff such as the Equally Safe Team, and a Rape Crisis Worker).

Seek out a trusted friend or family member. Talking things through with someone you trust can sometimes help and you may also wish to seek help and longer term support from a variety of different support services- both within or external to the University.

Reporting to the Police

It is very much your decision if and when you report to the Police.  If you are unsure about whether you want to report to the Police but would like to have the option to report in the future, you can use the Sexual Assault Response Co-ordination Services (SARCS) for a forensic medical examination by a specialist female doctor/nurse within 7 days of a rape or sexual assault. They’ll take forensic evidence, check for STIs, provide emergency contraception, and link you in with agencies best placed to support you. SARCS can store any forensic evidence obtained during examination for 26 months, providing you with time to make a decision on whether to report the incident to the Police. SARCS operates on a self-referral basis and an appointment can be made by contacting 0800 148 8888. For more information, please see Turn to SARCS | NHS inform.

If you are unsure if making a report to the Police is the right decision for you, or would like to learn more about what to expect, you can talk this through with the Equally Safe Team or another service mentioned on this page.

Additionally, this video provides in depth detail of the various stages of the criminal justice process in Scotland.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Information on STIs and emergency contraception is available online on the Lothian Sexual Health site. 

There are two ways you can tell us what happened