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Sexual assault

This guidance has been produced for students who have recently been sexually assaulted, which includes rape. It provides information that you might want to consider when making a decision about what to do next. Whilst the guidance is aimed at students who have been sexually assaulted recently, it also includes information about sources of support which may be useful for any student who is a survivor of sexual assault and historical sexual abuse.

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If you have recently been raped or sexually assaulted you may be feeling many things. Some people report that they feel numb or shocked, confused or frightened or fragile or angry. There is no right or wrong way to feel.

However you are feeling, try to remember that this is not your fault, you are not to blame, and you are not alone.

You should not feel under any pressure to act in any specific way. Any decisions made will be yours alone and will be respected.

The list below provides some steps for you to consider which are explained on this webpage.

1. Are you in a safe environment?

If the assault has just occurred, you might want to consider whether you feel safe where you are.

Emergency help

If you or others feel at risk or consider the situation to be an emergency, you can call the police on 999. If you require urgent medical help you should call for an ambulance (also on 999).

If you call for an ambulance or the police and you live on campus please also call Campus Support on 01695 584227 so that they can direct the police or ambulance to you as quickly as possible.

If you do not feel at further risk and the situation is not an emergency but you wish to report the assault to the police, you can call the police on 101. This is entirely your decision.

Medical assistance

If you require non-urgent medical treatment, you can either go to:

If you are in University accommodation outside of office hours you may want to contact Campus Support on 01695 584227 (out of office hours). However if it is during office hours or you are in other accommodation you can also alert staff at Student Services on 01695 650800 (office hours 9am-5pm Monday – Friday).

It is up to you to choose what kind of support you want to access and whether or not you want to report the assault to the police. You can also choose to do nothing now. If you feel that it would be useful for you to take time and to think about the options open to you then that is a perfectly valid decision.

2. Time limits to be aware of

Please remember it is your choice what support you access and if you choose to report the assault to the police. You may even choose to take some time to think about your options and that is a perfectly valid decision. Before you make a decision regarding the support you may want or need, there are a few time limits you need to be aware of.

If you want emergency contraception then it is important to access advice as soon as possible. There are several options available to you, some available up to 5 days (120 hours) later.

  • To find your nearest emergency contraception provider, use this NHS site and insert your postcode.
  • Local providers to the Ormskirk campus include the pharmacy at Morrisons and the Hants Lane Sexual Health Clinic.
  • Our GP Partner Beacon operates a Sexual Health Clinic from Milton House for students registered with them. Check our wellbeing webpages for times
  • Information about sexual health clinics if you live in another area of Lancashire can be found via clicking the link.

For HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) medication treatment you will need to start treatment within 72 hours. Advice can be offered from Safe Place and the Safe Centre.

If you suspect you may have been given any type of drug it is recommended to be tested within the first 24 hours.

The SAFE Place and SAFE Centre also offer a service to collect and store any forensic evidence while you decide whether or not to report the incident to the police. If you want forensic evidence to be collected you should attend either the SAFE Place or SAFE Centre as soon as you can, advisably within 72 hours of the sexual assault.

In an attempt to preserve any evidence as best as you can, try to take the following steps when possible:

  • Do not wash.
  • Do not brush your teeth.
  • Do not have a cigarette.
  • Do not eat or drink.
  • Do not change your clothes.
  • If you do change your clothes, do not wash them and put them in a clean paper bag.
  • Try not to go to the toilet.
  • Do not clear anything away or let other people or animals enter the area where the incident took place.

However do not worry if you have already done some of these things, as it is still possible that there will be forensic evidence to collect.

3. Do you want to take some time to talk or think things through?

If the situation is not an emergency, you may want to take some time to think things through or to talk to someone you trust, such as a friend or a member of staff at the University.

Not all University staff are trained to provide specialist support for survivors of sexual assault. However, they can provide initial support and signpost you to specialist staff and support services in the University and in the local area.

The Wellbeing Team in Student Services have staff trained in supporting you and we would recommend that it is this team that you speak to you should you want to discuss what has happened. Their services are confidential unless, in exceptional circumstances, where it is deemed there is a danger to yourself or to others, or if there is a legal duty to report.

Student Services also provide counselling which you may find useful during this time or in the future.

You may prefer to speak to someone outside of the University such as a specialist support service for survivors of sexual assault and there are details about these organisations at the end of this guidance.

4. Deciding what to do next

Reporting immediately

If you have just been attacked you can call 999, alternatively you can call 101 for a less urgent response.

You can contact SAFE Place sexual assault referral centre in Liverpool on 0151 295 355 or the SAFE Centre in Preston on 01772 523344. 

They will ask you the following information:

  • Your name (you can just provide first name).
  • Your date of birth.
  • Your address.
  • Your contact number.
  • The date and time of the assault (this may be recent or have been some time in the past).
  • Some brief details about the assault.
  • Do you think you might need emergency contraception?
  • Do you want the police to be informed?
  • Would you like a forensic medical examination?

If you call SAFE Place or the SAFE Centre out of hours an operator will take your name and phone number only and will arrange for a crisis worker to call you back.

The police can take you to the SAFE Centre or SAFE Place and will make arrangements for you to visit the centre for forensic medical examination, along with medical and emotional help. If you believe you may have been drugged, or your drink spiked, it is important to have a blood or urine test as soon as possible.

However the procedures can sometimes be a lengthy process which can be upsetting for you. When possible a supportive friend or relative would be welcome to come to the centre to help support you. Also consider bringing a spare set of clothes if you have not yet changed since the incident took place, as they may need to keep them as evidence.


When you give your statement to the police try not to leave anything out, however embarrassing or painful it may be. If you can’t remember something, it is okay to say so. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth about things like how much you had to drink, or using recreational drugs as this may harm the chances of prosecution if the police have been misinformed.

You may choose to report the incident anonymously, to get the perpetrator on the police radar. As this may not lead to their arrest it could help make another reported case stronger.

Reporting later

Some people choose to take time to think about what they want to do, which may lead to you reporting the incident later. If you are not sure what to do, you can go to SAFE Place or the SAFE Centre as they can talk you through the different options available to you. They can store forensic evidence for you for up to two years while you decide what you want, they also provide assistance and support which you can access without reporting to the police.

Examples such as brushing your teeth, taking your clothes and putting them all in a clean bag in the freezer, may help you preserve some evidence yourself.

If you experience an incident of sexual assault, during your time at Edge Hill, you are strongly encouraged to tell someone about your experience and seek support.

Reporting to the University

Even if you choose not to report the incident to the police you can still report it to the University. The University will take your report very seriously and have a team of staff to support you and staff who can investigate the incident if that is what you want to do.

You can report the assault to the University, even if it doesn’t involve another student or if it hasn’t occurred on campus by contacting a Campus Life Manager on 01695 657570 or via email. Please be assured that you can still receive support if you choose not to report it by contacting our Wellbeing team on 01695 650988 or via email.

If you report an incident to us that involves another student, or member of staff, you can also ask the University to investigate the incident under our Staff or Student Disciplinary Procedures as appropriate. These procedures differ from a criminal investigation in that we will only be able to consider statements from the parties involved and any witness statements and other information such as Facebook posts, texts and more but we will not be able to undertake any forensic investigation. What we will be investigating is whether a staff member or a student has breached the Disciplinary Procedure and the actions the University can take is restricted to the sanctions that are available in the procedures.

Report another student

You can report another student and request an incident is investigated by contacting Student Services and asking to speak to a Campus Life Manager.

Report a staff member

You can report a staff member and request an incident is investigated by contacting Human Resources and asking to speak to a HR Adviser.

If you choose to report the incident to the police you can still report the incident to us as well. Once the police investigation is completed and the outcome decided then you can still request that we investigate the incident under the Staff or Student Disciplinary Procedures. We will not undertake any investigation whilst the police are involved as it may prove detrimental to any criminal case. However we can offer you support during this period and consider any risks to yourself or others that you may be concerned about as a result of the incident.

5. External agencies

For expert advice on these issues, you can contact the following agencies:

SAFE Place
Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Liverpool
0151 295 3550


SAFE Centre
Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Preston
01772 523344

Sexual Assault and Childhood Sexual Abuse
Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre/Cheshire and Merseyside
Offer counselling and access to Independent Sexual Violence Advisors.

Lancashire Victim Services
Provide emotional support, information and practical help, regardless of whether you have reported the crime to the police or not.
0300 323 0085
Monday-Friday 8.00am-8.00pm, Saturday 9.00am-5.00pm

Survivors UK
Support for male survivors of domestic Abuse/physical violence.
0203 598 3898 – open Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.00pm
Helpline webchat – Monday – Sunday 12.00pm – 8.00pm

Emotional and practical support for LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse.
0800 999 5428
[email protected]

Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service
For women and girls experiencing domestic abuse
0151 263 7474 / Freephone 0800 084 2744
Mobile/text for hard of hearing: 0756 201 3316

For women from black, minority ethnic and refugee communities experiencing domestic violence.
Savera UK, 151 Dale Street, Liverpool, L2 2AH
0800 107 0726

National Women’s Aid

Southall Black Sisters
For black and Asian women and children experiencing domestic and sexual violence, including forced marriage and honour crimes. Languages: English, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati and Urdu.
020 85710800 9.30am-4.30pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Sexual health clinic
Click the link above for information about Sexual Health Clinics in Lancashire or call 0300 1234 154

Stalking Helpline  0808 802 0300
Network for surviving stalking 

Rights of Women
Rights of women is a women’s voluntary sector organisation which provides free legal advice and information to women affected by sexual violence. They publish a range of free information on areas of sexual violence law to support women through the criminal justice process, including From Report to Court: a handbook for adult survivors of sexual violence.