Swindon and Wiltshire Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)
A Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) is a special facility where recent victims of rape or sexual assault can receive immediate help and support. This includes access to a forensic medical examination, which is carried out by an experienced and qualified doctor or nurse, and the opportunity to speak to the Police about what has happened to them if the client wishes to do so. SARC clients also receive help and advice from one of our Crisis Workers who can offer to support them and stay with them throughout the process.
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact the SARC directly or come as a referral from the police.
If you contact us directly, you can remain anonymous and have the time you need to think about how to involve the police and what to do with any evidence samples. Our specially trained Crisis Workers can help you decide whether or not to involve the police. You can contact a Crisis Worker as a self-referral Monday – Friday 09.00 – 17.00 or on a Saturday 10.00 – 16.00– click for contact details.
You may, however, have already chosen to approach the police first. If so, they will, of course, know your identity and they will keep any evidence samples for their investigations. Police referrals are available 24/7, 365(6) days of the year.
The SARC offers the support and services you need, whether or not the police are involved. All our services are confidential. However, we have a legal duty to share information with the police and/or Children’s Social Care if a child or young person or vulnerable adult is considered to be at risk of significant harm (Children Act 2004 and Working Together to Safeguard Children).
At all times you will be able to make choices about what happens to you.
Here is a step-by-step guide to what might happen when you contact the SARC:
STEP 1: MAKE AN APPOINTMENT
You can make an appointment to attend the SARC by contacting us on 01793 781916. When you call you will be given an explanation of the options available to you, as well as an appointment if that is what you choose. An appointment at the SARC can be made without Police involvement. You will be met by a Crisis Worker who will look after you and explain the options available to you.
If you call the police, they will arrange the appointment for you and accompany you to the SARC. A specially trained officer will look after you. You will be looked after by a Sexual Offence Investigation Team Officer (SOITs).
STEP 2: WHEN YOU ARRIVE
When you arrive for your appointment, you will speak to a Crisis Worker. They will take down your personal details, explain all of the options available to you and discuss what will happen next.
STEP 3: FORENSIC EXAMINATION
A forensic medical examination will be carried out as sensitively as possible by a specialist doctor/nurse (not an employee of First Light). The decision to go ahead with this examination is entirely up to you, and can be carried out whether or not you choose to involve the police. You can choose to stop the examination at any time.
Forensic examinations are best carried out as soon as possible following an assault, even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing. The examinations could provide evidence about what happened and about your assailant – to be used if and when you choose to involve the police.
STEP 4: ADVICE
At the forensic examination the doctor/nurse may, if considered appropriate, give you a pregnancy test and/or emergency contraception. The doctor/nurse will not usually check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at the time of the forensic examination because it is often too early for them to show up. However, they may talk to you about them and they will make a referral for you to be seen at a specialist clinic for you to be screened for STIs.
STEP 5: FOLLOW-UP
We understand that dealing with the effects of rape or sexual assault can be very difficult and take time to resolve. To help you through this, the SARC can provide access to:
- Sexual health services
- Ongoing support from an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) – you can access them directly or be referred through the SARC
- Counselling assessment and referral into a counselling service.
From the moment you contact the SARC, our team of Crisis Workers will be available to give you the support you need.
In summary, the team is able to:
- Explain the various options that may be available to you and then support you in whatever decisions you make;
- Provide emotional and practical support;
- Help you get the best support according to your needs and they will work with you to help achieve this, whether or not you want to take legal action; and
- Provide a referral into the Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) Service who will attend pre-trial visits and court hearings with you, if you do choose to report the assault to the police.