Sexual assault advice and support

What is sexual assault?

A sexual assault is any sexual act that a person did not consent to, or is forced into against their will. It is a form of sexual violence and includes rape (an assault involving penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth with a penis), or other sexual offences, such as groping, forced kissing or child sexual abuse.

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If you’ve been sexually assaulted

If you’ve been sexually assaulted, Devon and Cornwall Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC) are there to help.

If you want the crime to be investigated, the sooner a forensic medical examination takes place, the better the outcome. After 7 days forensic evidence can no longer usually be gathered, although SARC can still help you in other ways.

I want to report to the police.

You can report the assault to police by calling 999 or 101. A specially trained officer will speak to you about what has happened and will arrange for an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) to support and guide you through the prosecution process. Sexual assault is traumatic and it can sometimes take a while until you feel able to talk about it. Even if the assault happened a long time ago, you can still report it.

I don’t want to report to the police.

Call Devon and Cornwall SARC on 0300 303 4626 or fill out a quick referral form. One of their specially trained staff will talk to you about what to do next and how they can help. You can also access counselling, support and guidance from Rape Crisis if you are female or Safeline if you are male.

If you know someone who has been sexually assaulted

If someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, it can be a very distressing and confusing time for you both. You can help to support the person who has been assaulted by:

  • explaining what their options are and what happens next
  • accompanying them to the Devon & Cornwall SARC or police station nearest to them (if they want to report it to the police - this is entirely their choice and they shouldn't feel pressured)
  • helping them to feel safe
  • listening to them and supporting them through the recovery process

More information

Sexual assault information and advice organisations

Devon & Cornwall SARC

Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) offer medical, practical and emotional support from specially trained staff.

Area helped: Devon, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly

Phone: 0300 303 46 26



If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact NSPCC for help, advice and support.

Area helped: UK

Phone: 0808 800 5000


Rape Crisis

A network of specialist support and services for victims and survivors of sexual violence.

Area helped: England and Wales

Live chat: Find a live chat



Independent and non-discriminatory charity that provides specialist, tailored support for anyone affected by sexual abuse and rape

Area helped: England and Wales

Phone: Find out how to contact