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Information for Survivors of Sexual Violence


  • Rape is not sex which has gone wrong. It is a crime of sexual violence occurring without the consent of one of the people involved. Being forced or pressurised to have sex when you do not want to is a crime.
  • Rape or sexual assault can happen to anyone, male or female of any age or background.
  • The perpetrator is often someone you know such as a relative or partner, but it can also be a stranger or an acquaintance.
  • You can be raped anywhere: indoors or outdoors. The perpetrator may have broken into your house; you may have invited him in or he may have forced or invited you to go to his house. There may have been more than one perpetrator.
  • It is important for you to remember that there is no such thing as an uncontrollable sexual urge: you are NOT responsible for someone else’s actions.
  • You may have had a drink with your perpetrator before being attacked; drugs and alcohol are never the cause of rape or sexual assault. It is the perpetrator who chose to commit the crime not the drugs or the alcohol you may both have had before the attack.


What might be your reactions and feelings after being assaulted?

There are many reactions a person might experience during the attack:

  • some people might scream or cry out whilst others will survive by keeping silent or be too shocked and numb or too frightened to say anything at all. However you responded, that was your way of surviving a frightening and shocking experience at that time.

Afterwards you might feel numb or experience some of the common reactions listed below:-

  • Feeling scared, anxious, fearful to go out.
  • Unable to sleep, having nightmares and flashbacks.
  • Feeling lonely and isolated and sad.
  • Feeling dirty, ashamed, and embarrassed about what has happened.
  • Feeling confused and angry about why this has happened to you.
  • Feeling it was your fault: that somehow you must have been to blame.
  • Find it hard to trust people and have intimate relationships.
  • Feeling suicidal.

The rape may have occurred sometime ago or just recently. If you have just been raped or sexually assaulted you can get help from ARC Dorset, a sexual assault referral centre in Bournemouth. Their contact number is 0845 519 8638.

Whatever emotions and reactions you are experiencing, it is important that you understand that your thoughts, feelings and behaviours are the result of what you have been through. Talking to someone you trust to support you may well be the first important step to taking back  control over your own life. You might talk to a friend, family member or you can talk to our trained and experienced  volunteers in confidence by calling our Helpline 01202 308855. (See Telephone Helpline for opening hours.)