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. We will listen to you even if you find it very difficult to speak. We will believe you. We will explain the help that is available to you and support you to decide what you want to do next.
Counselling and psychological therapy
Counselling offers you the chance to talk to a qualified professional about your experiences and how you are feeling. You will decide what you want to talk about in each session, although your therapist will guide and support you. The aim is to help you to cope with the effects of the sexual assault or rape that you experienced and to begin to recover.
Clients have told us that counselling has helped them to feel better in many ways including:
- Having more self-esteem
- Feeling less ashamed
- Feeling less guilty
- Not being so anxious
- Becoming less depressed
- Feeling less frightened
- Having fewer suicidal thoughts
- Feeling less angry
- Having less frequent and less intense thoughts about hurting themselves
- Having fewer flashbacks, or not having them any more at all
- Sleeping better with fewer nightmares
Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA)
We will offer to arrange support from an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor. Children are referred to a specialist Children and Young Person’s ISVA. If you are a self-referring adult they can help you explore if you do or do not want to report to the police. If you have reported 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 Advisor 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.
Forensic Medical Examination
Our nurse or doctor experts can examine you to check that you are ok and look for DNA to support your case, if you decide to report to the police, or if you qualify for the adult self-referral service.
If you 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 for just over 2 years (26 months) in case you decide that you do want to report.
If you come to The Bridge for a forensic medical examination you will be met by a Crisis Worker. 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 your Crisis Worker will do everything possible to support you in that.
If you come for a forensic medical examination the clinician who examines you will also talk to you about your sexual health and emergency contraception if relevant.
You can call The Bridge to discuss any concerns you have about your sexual health. Our nurses or doctors can talk to you about your sexual health and will offer you medicine if that is relevant.
We can arrange for you to have a sexual health check-up at your local sexual health clinic or with your GP, whichever feels more comfortable for you.
You can call The Bridge for advice if you are worried about becoming pregnant after being raped or sexually assaulted.
Our nurses or doctors will talk to you about this and can give you emergency contraception if relevant.
Emergency contraception works best if it is taken as soon as possible. In some cases the medicine can be taken up to 5 days after sex. We can also, when relevant, refer you to a pregnancy advisory services.
Providing information to the police anonymously
If you are an adult who does not feel able to speak to the police about what has happened to you, it can be possible to give them information anonymously. You can come to The Bridge and give a statement to a Crisis Worker. We will then 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 clients have told us that this has helped them to have confidence that they will be believed and taken seriously.