Find out how to get help if you have been sexually assaulted, or fear for the safety of someone else.
The University is committed to providing a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for every member of our community. If you have just been assaulted, feel you are still at risk, think that others may be at risk, or need urgent medical attention, find out how to get help or call the emergency services on 999.
If you do not require emergency treatment, it is best not to call an ambulance. You may decide to go to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre later or go to Accident and Emergency by taxi.
Read through all your options below before you make a decision.
If you are not at further risk
If you are not at further risk:
- find somewhere safe and warm as you may be in shock. If you can, phone a friend to come to you
- avoid drinking, eating, washing, smoking, brushing your teeth, urinating or changing your clothes until you decide what you want to do next
- keep any used condom or bedding in a clean plastic or cotton bag.
If you have experienced sexual violence or misconduct you may be feeling a range of emotions. Some people report feeling numb or shocked, confused or frightened, fragile or angry. There is no right or wrong way to feel and your feelings are likely to change over time.
The choices you have in terms of expert support and advice can vary according to the time and place at which the incident occurred. There are particular considerations if you have been assaulted within the past seven days. However, you can seek advice and support from a number of agencies at any time after the incident, even years later – support is not limited to those who choose to make an immediate report. Any decisions made will be yours alone and will be respected.
- Reporting an incident to the police
It is completely your decision whether you report the incident to the police. You can report immediately, later, or you can choose not to report, and there is no ‘correct’ decision, just the decisions that you feel most comfortable with. An advisor can talk this through with you.
You can report an incident to the police at any time. If the incident happened recently or you need urgent help, call 999. If it is not urgent call 101 or use their online reporting form.
If you choose to report an incident of sexual violence to the police, a specially trained officer called a SOIT (Sexual Offences Investigative Trained officer) is likely to be contacted.
If you have been affected by sexual violence within the last seven days there may be forensic evidence available that the police can use. A SOIT will be able to take non-intimate forensic samples immediately so that forensic evidence can be preserved and you will be able to eat, drink and go to the toilet without fear of losing such evidence. You can also get help by reporting the incident to the University through Report and Support or emailing email@example.com.
An initial account will be taken from you to establish what has happened and you may be taken to the nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). The closest to Sussex is The Saturn Centre at Crawley Hospital. There you will be looked after by a Crisis Support Worker and Forensic Medical Examiner (nurse who can collect forensic evidence). They recommend that you take a supportive friend with you. Take a change of clothes as they may need to retain the clothes you are wearing. Also take any bedding or used condom if relevant, police will be able to advise.
You should be aware that although you have called the police, you can opt out of the reporting process at any point without losing the support of the SARC. The SARC can refer you onward to support services.
If you have not reported or accessed help within seven days you can still report to the police. Forensic evidence is not a necessity in many cases. There is no time limit on reporting a sexual assault to the police – you can do so days, weeks, months or years after something has happened. In this case, a SOIT will contact you to take an initial account of what has happened. It is unlikely you will need to attend the SARC.
You can also disclose the incident to the University, and someone will respond to you within five working days to offer support and advice.
- Delaying reporting to the police
You may be unsure about making a report to the police, but would like to be able to retain forensic evidence for a future decision. If you have been assaulted in the last seven days, this can be done by a self-referral to our nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), The Saturn Centre at Crawley Hospital.
If there are signs of a disturbance at the scene, taking photographs may be beneficial to any future investigation in case you decide to report it to the police at a later date. Remember to keep any relevant clothes, bedding, used condom, text messages or emails, as these may contain important evidence.
You can get help and advice about what to do by disclosing the incident to the University through Report and Support or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also contact Survivor’s Network, a local independent agency which supports people who have experienced sexual assault.
- Deciding not to report to the police
If you are sure you do not want to report the incident to the police at any time, then you can still access the support of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) services at the Saturn Centre in Crawley Hospital. You can choose not to provide forensic evidence but can still receive specialist medical support and be referred for support.
At the weekend or evenings, you can get 24-hour access to the Accident and Emergency department at the Royal Sussex County Hospital for the treatment of any injuries.
You can access expert support from Brighton and Hove Sexual Health and Contraception Service at various locations in Central Brighton. The SOLAR clinic offers a confidential, non-judgemental service dedicated to men and women who have experienced sexual assault both recently and historically.
You can book an appointment at The Solar Clinic for support and STI testing as necessary. Those who disclose sexual assault are fast tracked through the clinic and are treated with respect and dignity.
- Reporting to the University
Whether or not you decide to report to Police, if the person who assaulted you is a student or staff member at Sussex you can report them to the University’s Complaints and appeals department.
If you are not sure whether to report them to the University and would like to talk your options through with an advisor, you can disclose the incident through Report and Support or by emailing email@example.com. An advisor will get back to you within five working days.
Getting help from the University
To disclose an incident to the University and receive support use our Report and Support tool. This does not trigger a ‘formal’ report to the University, but it is the best way to seek expert advice and support.
If you decide against contacting the police, live in University-managed accommodation and need help at night or over the weekend, find out who to speak to at the University.
Looking after each other
There are things you can do and resources you can use to help you learn more about consent and keep each other safe.
Consent Matters is an online course covering areas of sexual consent, communication, and relationships, and how to step in if others need help. All Sussex students are expected to complete Consent Matters to help keep our campus safe.
You can enrol and complete the course on Canvas. You’ll need your Sussex username and password to login.
Content warning: the course contains references to sexual violence and so you may wish to avoid completing certain parts. If the course is too distressing then please don't continue.
Local and national help and support
Survivor’s Network are a local agency supporting survivor’s of sexual violence and abuse in Sussex.
Rape Crisis offer a 24/7 Rape and Sexual Abuse Support line.
The Samaritans are available 24-hours a day to support you through any trauma including sexual assault. Call 116123 (calls are free).
Support for staff
If you are a member of staff supporting a student who has been sexually assaulted, see our guidance.