Sexual Assault Referral Centres & Reporting

On this page you will find information about different types of practical and medical support as well as your rights when it comes to reporting what has happened to you.

If you have recently been raped or sexually assaulted, you may be feeling lots of different emotions or you may not be feeling anything at all.

However you are feeling, we want you to know that what happened to you is not your fault, all of your feelings are completely natural and  you deserve support.

Support right now

Try to be somewhere safe and look after yourself, especially if you are feeling in shock. See if someone you trust can be with you.

If you don't feel like talking to a friend or family member just yet, you can call our Helpline or join our Campfire forum. We will listen to you and believe what you tell us.

If you want to talk to someone right now and our Helpline isn’t open, you can call the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 500 2222 which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also have a live chat if you don’t want to speak on the phone.

Next steps

You have different options that you can take some time to think about, at your own pace.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted within the last 10 days, you can choose to visit a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for confidential practical and medical support, including a forensic examination, usually through the NHS.

You can refer yourself to a SARC or if you have already reported, a Sexual Offences Liaison Officer from the Police will attend with you.

If the incident happened more than 10 days ago
, most of the forensic evidence can no longer be collected, but you can still visit a SARC for support, advice and sexual health care.

What can I expect if I choose to visit a SARC?

You will met by a friendly, trained forensic nurse and support worker who will together support you through the following process:

  • You will be asked some questions about yourself and what has happened to you.
  • You will be offered a forensic examination to collect evidence. You can choose what sort of evidence is collected based on what you feel comfortable with and you can change your mind at any time. After the exam, you will be able to have a shower and be given a change of clothes.
  • You don’t need to report to the Police in order to have a forensic exam. They can store evidence in case you decide to report in the future.
  • You will be offered a pregnancy test and emergency contraception if needed.
  • You will be offered a Hepatitis B vaccination and support around risk for HIV.
  • You will be asked if you want the SARC to write a letter to your GP to let them know what has happened to you and that you have visited the SARC. They will also if you want to be referred to a Sexual Health Centre for further STI tests.
  • The SARC will ask if you would like more emotional support around the impact of the assault or abuse and if so, they will make a referral for you to support services such as The Women’s Centre Cornwall.
  • They can arrange for an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) to support you with the police investigation if you have chosen to report.

Where is my nearest SARC?

Truro SARC
Truro Health Park, Infirmary Hill, Truro, TR1 2JA
0300 303 4626

Exeter SARC
Hawkins House Pines Hill, Rydon Lane, Exeter EX2 5SS
0300 303 4626

Exeter is a centre of excellence for Paediatric forensics, where special care can be given to children.

Plymouth SARC
Hawthorne House, Darklake View, Estover, Plymouth, PL6 7TL
0300 303 4626

Dorset SARC
The Shores, 5 Madeira Rd, Bournemouth BH1 1QQ
0800 953 4131

You can find your nearest SARC on the NHS website.

Reporting to the Police

It is completely your choice whether you choose to report to the Police or not. You can report to the Police at any time. Even if an incident happened a long time ago – you can still report it. You can also report anonymously without giving your name. You can report by telephoning 101.

If you are in immediate danger, call 999.If you are unsure, or still deciding whether to report, your local Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service should be able to support you. ISVA’s are independent and not part of the police service. They will give you clear information on the reporting process and your rights and can support you throughout the process.

In Devon and Cornwall, call the SARC helpline on 0300 303 4626 (see above) and in Dorset contact Stars on 01202 308 846 or email, or visit website here.

I still have questions

You may have read through this page and naturally still have questions about the process of both the SARCs and reporting.

Just know that we are here to answer those questions.  You don’t need to hold all of this by yourself, reach out and we can have a chat.

Call us on 01208 77099 Monday to Friday 10am – 1pm & Monday evening 6pm – 9pm, or post a question in our Campfire forum.

Leave Site


Join our online community for women living with the impact of sexual or domestic abuse and sexual violence at any time of their lives. Also available as a mobile app.

Join now