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Adults » Rape and Sexual Assault

rape & sexual assault

What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault covers any sort of sexual activity and behaviour that is unwanted and can be committed against both males and females.

What is rape?
Rape is when a woman is forced to have sex or does not consent to having sex. This includes occasions when for whatever reason the female is unable to give consent i.e. due to illness, being very drunk or any other condition that prevents her from giving consent.

Any female can become a victim of rape no matter their relationship with the person responsible. You can be raped or sexually assaulted by someone you are in a relationship with. It can be your husband or partner who is responsible.

Most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Only 6% of rapes are committed by strangers.

For a rape to take place the male must put his penis inside the female’s vagina. Penetration of a female’s anus by a male is not rape but would be considered a sexual assault. Scottish law is under review and in the future may include other forms of penetration.

What is drug rape?
Drugs can be added to a drink or some food without the victim noticing meaning that it is ‘spiked’. This can cause memory loss so that the victim cannot always remember exactly what happened. Drug traces disappear quickly from the body so if you suspect this has happened it would be best to contact the police as soon as possible. Evidence of drug rape is however limited and where victims complain of losing their memory and of being sexually assaulted excessive alcohol consumption can be a contributory factor.

Drinking to excess can lead to individuals being exposed to risks that they normally would not allow themselves to be exposed to. It is important that individuals drink responsibly to avoid being placed in risky situations.

To stay safe when you are out, never leave your drink unattended. Take it with you even if you are going to the toilet. Drink responsibly and be aware of how much you are drinking and from whom you are accepting a drink.

What to do if you have been sexually assaulted

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you should report it to the police as soon as possible and avoid washing and cleaning your teeth before you see them. You may be asked to givethem items of clothing you were wearing when you were attacked as these may provide vital evidence to identify the person who attacked you. If you agree the police will also arrange for you to have a medical examination. The doctor can treat any injuries you have and give you emergency contraception if you need it, as well as gathering any evidence that may help the investigation.

What if I do not wish to go to the police?
If you decide that you do not wish to involve the police you may still require medical care eg if you are injured, need emergency contraception or wish to be tested for a sexually transmitted infection. Going to the police does not mean that you HAVE to give a statement or be examined. However the police can advise you of what your options are.

What do I do if I am injured or still in danger?
If you have been injured you should go to the police or you nearest accident and emergency department. There, a doctor can examine your injuries and decide what treatment you require. If you feel that you or any family members or friends are still at risk, it would be wise to contact the police.

What do I do about contraception or if I think I could be pregnant?
If there was no condom used or you are not using a reliable form of contraception you should get emergency contraception. This should be taken as soon as possible but in some circumstances can be effective up to 5 days later. If you are worried about being pregnant you should do a pregnancy test 2-3 weeks later if your period hasn’t come.

Could I have caught an infection?
If you are worried about a sexually transmitted infection, it is too soon to be tested until 2 weeks later. This is best done at a sexual health clinic. Sometimes you can get antibiotics immediately after the assault once you have discussed it with a doctor eg the police doctor, your GP or the doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic.

If you think the person who raped you is a high risk of Hepatitis or HIV, it is possible to get antiviral drugs up to 48 to 72 hours after the assault. This can be arranged through accident and emergency or the police doctor.

I can’t stop thinking about the assault
Being raped or sexually assaulted is a very distressing experience and the effects can last for a very long time. As everyone is different, it is not easy to know exactly you will feel. However your emotions may be very intense at times. You may also find it difficult to eat, sleep and concentrate or you may find yourself withdrawing form other people.

If you can’t stop thinking about it you should consider talking to your GP, or contacting one of a number of agencies. Victim Support can help you to understand the emotions you are feeling whether or not you have reported the crime. Rape Crisis can also support you through this time, no matter when the event happened (including many years ago). Women’s Aid can also help you if there is ongoing abuse or violence.

Whatever has happened it is important to remember that it is never your fault


To contact the police about a rape or sexual assault
telephone 0845 600 5701
From 8am-5pm 7 days a week ask for the Family Protection unit
Outwith these hours say to the officer answering the phone that you wish to speak to a police officer about a sexual assault and you will be put through to the appropriate person to take the details.

Victim Support
Scottish helpline: 0845 6039 213
Mon–Thu 9am–4.30pm, Fri 9am–4pm
National website
Local offices
34 Charlotte street, Stranraer, DG9 7EF. 01776 707229
Mount St Michael, Craigs Road, Dumfries, DG1 4UT. 01387 250883

Rape Crisis
South West Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Centre
Offers a free confidential support and counselling service
Dumfries office: 9 George Street Meuse, DG1 1HH.
Tel; 01387 253113
Stranraer office: PO Box 7859, DG9 7YB.
Tel: 01776 889331
National helpline: 08088 01 03 02 open daily from 6pm – 12 midnight
National Website

Women’s Aid
24 hour confidential support and advice for women and their children suffering from domestic abuse. Safe accommodation offered if required.

Dumfriesshire and Stewartry Women’s Aid
(9.30-4.30 Mon – Fri)
12 Whitesands, Dumfries, DG1 2RR.
Tel: 01387 263052
24 hour on call: 07710 152 772

Wigtonshire Women’s Aid
Tel: 01776 703104

National website:
National domestic abuse helpline
Tel: 0800 027 1234