Rape or sexual assault: information for women

Being a victim of any kind of crime can be frightening and upsetting. But rape and sexual assault are particularly distressing crimes for the victim and the effects can last for a long time. Many rape victims feel that they have lost control over their lives.

As everybody is different, it is not easy to know exactly how you will feel. But it’s very likely that you are going though some very intense emotions. People who’ve been through this describe feeling frightened, guilty, powerless, angry, ashamed, depressed and may have difficulty eating, sleeping or concentrating. 

Many victims feel that they have lost control over their lives and lose their self-esteem. Some find it very difficult to deal with the intimate aspects of the crime, especially when they have to talk to other people about what has happened.

If you’ve been assaulted by a partner or someone else you know, the effects may be even greater. As well as the experience itself you’ve had your trust abused and this can affect your relationship with other people, both now and in the future. You might also be worried about how friends and family are going to react. But never forget that whoever the attacker was, it is not your fault.

Help is available

Specialist support and counselling for survivors of rape or sexual assault is available from JAAR (Jersey Action Against Rape), helpline 01534 482800,  www.jaar.je

Victim Support can also offer emotional support and practical help to anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted, either now or in the past. Our services are free and confidential. Some people can take years to build up the courage to report it – this is not unusual. If it is affecting your life you need to talk about it. We can help, regardless of whether you have told the police or anyone else about the attack.

Our volunteers can meet with you either at our office in the Magistrate’s Court, where we have quiet, private rooms, or somewhere else if you would feel more comfortable. If you don’t want to see anyone face-to-face, you can also talk to us on the phone.

If you choose to report the attack, we can go to the police station with you, or we can ask the police to come to our offices. If you give evidence in court, our Witness Service can help you to cope with the experience. We can also give you information about compensation.

Health Issues

You may be worried about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) after a rape or sexual attack. If you are over 16, hospitals and doctors must see you in complete confidence, and will not tell the police unless you ask them to. Even if you are under 16 most doctors will try to keep what has happened as confidential as possible. If you prefer not to use your own GP you can go to the GUM clinic at the General Hospital, which offers free and confidential testing and advice. It operates a walk-in service and is open Tuesday 5pm (men) Wednesday 5pm (women) and Thursday 5pm (men and women).

If you are 21 years or under you can also get help and advice from Brook – see their website for more information http://www.brook.org.uk/find-a-service/regions/jersey

You may have been exposed to HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), therefore you should seek medical advice quickly as there is medication which can prevent HIV from taking hold in some people – but only if it is taken quickly after infection. This treatment, called post exposure prophylaxis (PEP), is available from the General Hospital. You can find out more about PEP, HIV and AIDS on the Terrence Higgins Trust website or from the THT Direct helpline on 0845 12 21 200 (10am – 10pm Monday to Friday, 12pm – 6pm Saturday and Sunday).   

You can choose to have an HIV test separately. This will usually happen at a GUM clinic and you will normally be offered counselling before the test. Your GP can arrange the test for you, but if you are worried about confidentiality you can go direct to the GUM clinic.

For general information about STIs, you can call the UK-based 24-hour Sexual Healthline on 0800 567 123.

Risk of pregnancy

If you are worried about being pregnant after a sexual attack, you can get free treatment and advice locally from the family planning clinic or Brook Advisory Centre  http://www.brook.org.uk/find-a-service/regions/jersey 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.

Informing the police

Only you can decide whether or not to report the assault to the police. If you aren’t sure what to do, we can talk with you about what it would mean and what your options are. You can report the attack to the police straight away, later, or not at all if you choose. If you report an attack soon after it has happened, however, it may give the police an opportunity to get forensic evidence against your attacker that might not be there if you report the crime later. A police officer (usually a woman) will take basic details from you. If the assault happened recently, the police will arrange an examination by medical staff to collect evidence. We know that an intimate examination might be the last thing you want after an experience like this, but it’s important to remember that it may give the police evidence to help convict your attacker. If you’re unsure about what to do, we can talk through your options with you and help you make a choice you feel comfortable with.

The police will take further details from you only when you feel ready. The statement you make will be used as the main evidence if your attacker is caught and there is a court case. The police will arrange an interpreter for people who have difficulties with English. 

You will be told the name of the officer dealing with your case. The police will let you know if someone is caught and charged and whether or not they are released on bail. You should tell the police if you are worried that the attacker will harass or intimidate you. If the police charge someone with rape or indecent assault, they pass the evidence to the Prosecution Service who prepare the case for court.

If you want, we can help you in your contact with the police.

The court process

You may have to wait a few months for the case to go to court if someone is charged with raping or assaulting you.

If the person pleads ‘guilty’, you will not have to give evidence but you can still choose to go to court if you want to. The police should tell you what sentence has been given, or you can ask that Victim Support find out for you. In some cases, a volunteer will go to court on your behalf to watch the sentencing so you can hear first hand what happened.

If the person pleads ‘not guilty’ you may be asked to go to give evidence. If this happens, remember that you can take a friend for support, or we can arrange for one of our volunteers to go with you. We know this is a horrible experience, but we will do our best to make it as easy as possible for you.

Going to court

If you have to go to court in connection with the attack, we have information on what to expect and how we can support you. Talk to one of our volunteers and ask about the range of measures to help protect you and your privacy through the court process – we can give you details.

Other legal action

If you are worried about your safety you should tell the police and you may be able to obtain an injunction to help make sure that your attacker stays away from you. 

Compensation 

As a victim of sexual violence, you may be able to get Criminal Injuries Compensation. However, the crime must have been reported to the police for you to qualify, but we can give you more information about this.

How to contact us

Most people are referred to us by the police when they report a crime. But anyone can contact us directly if they want to. Just ring the office on 440496 – if it is out of hours please leave a message with your name and phone number and someone will call you back. You can also email us at victimsupport@gov.je

We hope that you will get in touch with us, but if you decide not to now, you can call us at any point in the future.

Useful links:

Jersey Action Against Rape www.jaar.je  01534 482800

Jersey Womens Refuge www.jerseywomensrefuge.org/home   0800 7356836

States of Jersey GUM clinic details http://www.gov.je/Health/HealthyLiving/SexualHealth/Pages/GUMClinic.aspx

Citizens Advice Bureau http://www.cab.org.je/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=59&Itemid=56

Brook Jersey Brook Advisory Centre http://www.brook.org.uk/find-a-service/regions/jersey

States of Jersey Well Woman Clinic and sexual health information http://www.gov.je/Health/WomenHealth/Pages/Contraception.aspx