Help after rape and sexual assault

For free and confidential advice 24/7 365 days a year

Call 0117 342 6999

When did this happen?

Less than 8 days ago?

More than 8 days ago?

your-choicesYour choices

I do not want to report to the police

  • Call The Bridge on 0117 342 6999
  • A Crisis Worker will listen to what has happened to you and explain how we can help
  • We can arrange for a doctor or nurse to examine you to check you are ok and look for forensic evidence
  • We will store forensic samples for 7 years. If you decide to report to the police the samples can be used as evidence in their investigation
    You can have an examination even if you have already washed, although there will be more DNA evidence on your body if you feel able to wait until after an examination
  • We will make sure that your sexual health is looked after
  • We can give you emergency contraception if needed
  • We will offer you practical and emotional support, including counselling.

I want to report to the police

  • Call the police on 101 or 999.
  • A specially trained officer will come to speak with you.
  • The officer may call The Bridge to arrange for a doctor or nurse to examine you to check you are ok and to look for forensic evidence.
  • You can have an examination even if you have already washed, although there will be more DNA evidence on your body if you feel able to wait until after an examination.
  • We will make sure that your sexual health is looked after.
  • We can give you emergency contraception if needed.
  • After you leave The Bridge an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser can support you with the police investigation.
  • We will offer you practical and emotional support including counselling.

I do not want to report to the police

  • Call The Bridge on 0117 342 6999.
  • A Crisis Worker will listen carefully and supportively to understand what happened to you, when it happened and what your situation is now.
  • The Crisis Worker will explain what support is available to you and help you to decide on your next steps.
  • You do not have to tell the Crisis Worker your name or contact details unless you choose to.
  • If you do give us your name and contact details, the Crisis Worker will help to arrange any support that you decide you want.
  • The support we can arrange includes sexual health care, advocacy and counselling.

I want to report to the police

  • Call the police on 101 or 999.
  • A specially trained officer will come to speak with you.
  • The officer will give The Bridge your details and ask us to contact you to offer you support.
  • The officer will arrange for you to complete a video interview. An Independent Sexual Violence Adviser can support you when you meet with the police for this interview. If you have not heard from an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser before your interview, ask the police why not.
  • Other support that The Bridge can arrange includes sexual health care and counselling.

Here, no matter what

The Bridge is inclusive however you identify. We understand that your identity is important and unique to you, and that gender identity and sexual orientation journeys are always different and never clear-cut. Your personal situation and experiences may mean it feels especially hard for you to seek help after being raped or sexually assaulted. No matter what happened to you, where you were, or who did it – The Bridge can help. We’re here 24/7 365 days a year.

You may be confused about what has happened, overwhelmed, emotional or numb. You may feel alone, angry, ashamed or frightened – these, and many other thoughts and feelings, are all normal responses to being sexually assaulted or raped.

Call us on 0117 342 6999. At The Bridge we listen, believe and do not judge. We will explain the help that is available to you and support you to decide what you want to do next.

The Bridge can help

Our specialist team can offer you:

  • Emotional and psychological support
  • Medical care, including sexual health
  • Practical help
  • Free counselling for you, and family or friends
  • Information about making a report to the police

Anything you tell us is confidential and you can also speak to us anonymously.

Things you may be thinking or worrying about

I’m transgender, transitioning, intersex or non-binary – will the crisis worker, doctor or nurse understand the relationship between my identity and my body?

We will meet you as an individual who is coming to us for support after being raped or sexually assaulted. We will ask you to tell us how you want to be called and what pronoun to use, and to guide us in the language you want us to use about your body. We will listen to you carefully and respectfully, and do all that we can to meet your individual needs.

People will make judgements about my gender identity or sexual orientation and blame me for being raped or sexually assaulted

Sexual assault and rape can happen to anyone of any gender identity, sexual orientation, age or background. We know that prejudice and rape myths continue to exist and will support you in coping if you encounter them.

Can someone come with me to support me and explain things to you?

You can bring a friend, family member, support worker or other professional with you to The Bridge. We will work with you and them to ensure that we offer you the best support we can.

What is a forensic medical examination?

If you have been sexually assaulted recently and tell the police what has happened to you, they will offer to bring you to The Bridge for a forensic medical examination.

However, you can also come and have an examination without telling the police. The Bridge will store your samples in case you decide later that you do want to make a report.

When you arrive at The Bridge you’ll be met by a member of our specialist team. While you are here, they will make sure that you understand everything that is going on and ensure that the examination only happens if you want it to.

They will listen very carefully to what you say to them and will also notice what influence other people might be having on your decisions. You can change your mind about being examined at any time, including during the examination.

We know how important it is for you to feel in control of what happens to your body and we will do everything possible to support you in that.

When you are comfortable, a nurse or doctor will examine you to check that you are ok and look for DNA to support your case if you decide to report to the police. They will also talk to you about your sexual health.

If I decide to have a forensic medical examination what gender will the nurse or doctor be?

The Bridge has female and male nurses and doctors. We will tell you if the nurse or doctor who is working when you contact us, is male or female. If you would prefer your examination to be provided by a nurse or doctor of a different gender we will try to arrange this as quickly as possible. Sometimes, it may mean waiting until the evening or the following day.

People will blame me because I was drinking or taking drugs

At The Bridge we listen, believe and do not judge. No-one has the right to have sexual contact with another person against their will or when they are unable to give consent because they have taken alcohol or drugs.

What if I have become infected with HIV?

The rate of HIV in the South West of England is very low. Call The Bridge and we can discuss the risk with you, based on your specific situation. We can arrange a sexual health screening and may give you medication directly.

I’m in pain, what if I have been injured?

Injuries to the anus and vagina heal very quickly and it is unlikely that the assault will have caused any lasting physical damage. If you are sore it is a good idea to get checked out. This can be done at The Bridge, by your GP or at a sexual health clinic.

I’m unsure if I want to make a report to the police

It is entirely your decision if you want to make a report to police or not.  It is worth noting that Avon and Somerset Constabulary have a dedicated LGBT Liaison Team and you can request that one of these officers support you in reporting.  The LGBT Liaison Team are committed improving relationships with, and access for, the LGBT+ communities and you may feel more confident in reporting to them.

You can call The Bridge for medical care and emotional support now, then decide about talking to police later.

You can come to The Bridge for a forensic medical examination by a specialist nurse or doctor. They will check you are OK and take samples which The Bridge can store in case you decide later that you want to speak to the police about what has happened to you.

You can also bring clothes bedding or other items for us to store if you think there may be DNA evidence on them.

Can I give information to the police anonymously?

If you do not feel able to speak to the police about what has happened to you, it is possible to give them information anonymously.  A member of our specialist team will support you to create a statement and we can give that information to the police without providing them with any of your personal details.

Sometimes the police call us after receiving this kind of information and ask us to contact you to see if you would be willing to speak to them informally. We will never pressure you into this, but in the past people have told us that this has helped them to have confidence that they will be believed and taken seriously. They have then decided to make an official report to the police.

What other practical support is available to me?

We will offer to arrange support from an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser. If you decide to make a report to the police, they will advocate for you while your case is investigated and make sure that you receive regular updates from the police. They will also make sure that you are well supported if your case goes to court.

An Independent Sexual Violence Adviser can also help with practical things. They might contact an employer on your behalf, help you to arrange meetings to sort out benefits or housing, or simply be someone to call if something related to your experience is worrying you.

Are you ready to get in touch? Call us on 0117 342 6999

info-marker-light-blueResources

Help and guidance if you have been sexually assaulted, if you want to know how to support someone you care about.

info-marker-light-blueContact Us

Ready to get in touch? We’re here 24/7, 365 days a year. Information on the ways you can contact our specialist team.

Experiences

The Bridge has completely changed my life and my outlook on life. I’ve come to appreciate my life I have now even after everything that has happened. I feel like a completely different person, and other people have noticed the positive changes too. I would definitely recommend the Bridge to other people, I feel like the Bridge is the silver lining to the thunderstorm

From a counselling client at the Bridge