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This post is about sexual assault and may be distressing for some readers. If you need support with sexual abuse, you can find lots of information and organisations on our sexual harassment and abuse page.
I was 24 when I was raped by a friend of my boyfriends. The incident happened in London; during that time, I was back and forth from London to Cornwall.
reported to the police the same morning and they came to my friend’s house to
take my initial report and advise the next steps. It was very early in the
morning about 5am and the officers that were the first point of call were two
middle aged males – it was an incredibly distressing morning and I found it
bizarre that my first point of contact for any professional in that sector was
two men. It just didn’t feel appropriate.
I was taken to The Havens, a Sexual Assault Referral Clinic. A few plain clothed female police officers joined me at The Havens to support me through that process and to discuss my options.
They have been a constant form of contact throughout the whole process; I think it is so important to have that consistency from day one and even after 3 years I still have one of the officers who was with me at The Havens. I feel very fortunate for that.
After an incredibly long, mentally and physically draining day – I was taken back to my friend’s house and advised that they would be in touch over the coming days. Throughout the whole process of the investigation and waiting to hear if the Crown Prosecution Service had come to a decision to charge or not over the next 2+ years, the police were great. With any update relating to the case they would be in touch within 24 hours – so I felt very much in the loop with what was going on. It was tough and still is tough, I haven’t finished this criminal justice journey quite yet and I feel that I have had to have my phone with me every moment of the day – at work, on holidays, days off etc. just in case I were to receive a call with any update. It takes over your life.
I haven’t had a great experience with GP services. I rarely felt listened to or
understood, my mental wellbeing just didn’t seem to be a priority. I was put on
Diazepam for over 18 months to deal with my sleepless nights, anxiety and
flashbacks. I was given no other referrals or advice for talking therapies. In
addition, I was charged £30 for a letter to my university that stated that I
had been raped and the trial was coming up so it would be best to recommence my
studies after the trial had finished.
As part of treatment post-rape, you are advised to be STI tested and to also to have Hepatitis B vaccinations so I was in and out of sexual health clinics for a fair few months.
After speaking to the sexual health team, I felt in safe hands. These people are specialised individuals that can talk all things sex; from rape, consent to STIs etc.
It made such a huge difference to be able to speak to someone so openly about it all – in a non-judgemental environment. They had the ability to make me feel fine about discussing everything with them and gave some great advice and referrals. I honestly can’t even imagine where I would be emotionally and mentally without having the Sexual Health team as a main port of call.
that work for sexual health clinics have chosen that sector to work in and are
so comfortable with talking about what a lot of people would find uncomfortable.
They provide a safe and non-judgemental environment that can be a real lifeline
to people going through traumatic experiences like my own. That’s why it’s so
essential that specialised sexual health services remain accessible for all.
Speaking to experts who were specially-trained to discuss these sensitive
issues made my experience a lot easier and I’m so grateful for the support they
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