5 sources of support you can access if you've been sexually assaulted, without reporting it to the police

This article contains references to sexual assault.

If you’re a young woman, the chances are that you’re all too familiar with the prevalence of sexual violence in the UK. An investigation by UN Women UK revealed that 86% of women aged 18-24 have reported being sexually harassed in a public space. 

The report also found that out of all the women who were interviewed, 95% didn’t report their own experiences of sexual assault to the police. The main reasons for this were: a belief that the assault “wasn’t serious enough” and the fear that they “wouldn’t be believed.” 

Of course, there are many factors that can deter a person from reporting sexual assault to the police. After Wayne Couzens – at the time, a serving police officer, arrested and murdered Sarah Everard, concern about the police entered mainstream discourse. However, people from marginalised communities have long been voicing these concerns. 

For example, London Black Women’s Project highlight some of the boundaries that migrant women in particular face, such as fear of deportation. And the English Collective of Prostitutes has highlighted studies that show 86% of transgender sex workers reported being harassed or mistreated by police, and 49% of online sex workers in the UK were “unconfident that police would take reports of violence seriously.” 

Simone Gosden, Operations Manager at STARS Dorset (Sexual Trauma Recovery Services), a charity that offers free support to people of any age or gender that have experienced any form of sexual violence at any point in their life, further explains how there are lots of complex reasons why someone may not want to report to the police.

“Societal attitudes of victim-blaming mean that survivors of sexual trauma carry a lot of shame and self-blame for what has happened to them,” Simone told GLAMOUR. “They may not report to the police because they are afraid of how they will be judged by others. 

“They may be protecting family members or be fearful of how friends or work colleagues will perceive them. Others will be put off by low conviction rates or negative stories about how survivors are treated within the criminal justice system. With less than 6% of reported rapes ending in a conviction, it’s easy to understand why someone may choose not to report, especially when they are already dealing with trauma.”

Furthermore, London’s first Victims Commissioner, Claire Waxman, has also said that Met Police should no longer offer rape victims assistance as they fail to provide adequate support to victims.

“I can’t have victims being treated like this any longer,” Claire said to the BBC.

She added: “I’m not shocked we hear some terrible responses from the police to rape survivors. That just shows a complete lack of understanding and specialism of those officers,”

“It’s frustrating for me; five years working with the Met as a critical friend to try and move them forward, and they just haven’t moved forward, in fact, they’ve gone backwards,” Claire added that an independent body should be appointed to each case instead.


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