Are You a Victim of Sexual Assault...?
Reporting a rape or serious sexual assault.
What do I Expect?
If you are the victim of a rape or serious sexual assault, we understand that you will have a number of mixed emotions. It is very common to have feelings including fear, shock, trauma, disbelief, depression, self denial or blame and feeling dirty and violated. You may find yourself questioning as to whether there was something you should or shouldn't have done to have prevented the assault.
Some victims, in particular men often question their own sexuality and feelings after such an assault as they may have physically reacted in a certain way during the assault... this may be due to the body’s natural response to certain stimulations and not their attractions. All of these thoughts are very normal for victims to experience.
Some sexual assaults may be more about the assailant inflicting power and control over their victims rather than it necessarily being for a sexual purpose. Serious sexual assaults are the most degrading type attack for victims and accordingly they carry some of the highest sentences at court.
Whether you decide to report such an assault to the police or not, you will probably need to consider seeking counselling to help you move on positively with your life. Our team often work closely with victim support agencies to support victims. Such counselling is normally available at no cost to you. Members of the serious sexual offences team are happy to discuss the processes and options available to you to enable you to make the right decisions for you. Contact with the team will be discreet and you may wish to remain anonymous when communicating with us.
As a result of this, Bedfordshire police offers a more personalised approach to those who have suffered such assaults.
Many people assume that serious sexual assaults and rapes are conducted by strangers in places like dark alleyways. Research would indicate that whilst this is sometimes the case, most assaults generally occur in homes and most commonly the offenders are known to the victims, often within domestic violence. Research also shows that only eight per cent of genuine rapes are reported to the police, and only 12 per cent of victims actually tell someone what has happened.
The Home Office conducted a Thematic Inspection report to look at ways in which the police and CPS could improve their service and working practices to increase the number of successful prosecutions at court. Bedfordshire police and the CPS are both striving to provide the best service to victims. If you are a victim of such an assault, we want you to have the confidence to report it to us and will endeavour to support you through the processes and to assist you in dealing with the issues you may face:
- Contact the police on 01234 841212.
- A trained informed officer called a Divisional Victim Liaison Officer (DVLO) will visit and will outline your options.
- If you decide to assist the police in a prosecution and you have been raped within the last seven days, you will be asked to provide intimate medical samples by a trained Police Surgeon at a police medical suite. This will be assisted by the DVLO, who can take early samples of urine and from your mouth, should this be appropriate for your comfort. The DVLO will also seize any clothing warn at the time of the incident for evidence. You will also be asked not to bathe/wash/clean your teeth until after the examination.
- The medical suites are located at Luton, Dunstable, and Headquarters in Kempston. The DVLO will take you there. You may also take a supporting adult with you providing they are not a potential police witness i.e. the first person you told.
- During the time the DVLO is with you, they will also obtain an initial account of the incident. This is NOT a STATEMENT but you may be asked to sign it.
- The initial notes will be passed to a trained Victim Liaison Officer (VLO) of the Serious Sexual Offences Team who will contact you, after you have rested, to take a statement of complaint. This statement is far more detailed, including explicit information, which will form your evidence for a potential trial at a Crown Court. Bedfordshire’s Crown Court is located at Luton.
- The same VLO (where possible) will update you regarding the investigation and will take you through the court trial. Prior to any potential trial, the VLO will accompany you on a court visit, to familiarise you with court surroundings and layout. Referrals can be made for you to victim support who provide appropriate counselling for sexual assaults.