How to report Sexual Abuse (and Who to Report it to)

This post is a part of our guide series to support anyone who may have been sexually abused or has questions around the topic:

What is Sexual Abuse? Definitions & Meanings
Who Commits Sexual Abuse & Why?
What are Signs & Symptoms of Sexual Abuse?
Handling & Dealing with Sexual Abuse
How to Heal and Recover from Sexual Abuse
What Impact Does Sexual Abuse Have on Victims, Families & Friends?
How to Report Sexual Abuse (and Who to Report it to)
How is Sexual Abuse Proven in Court?
Punishment & Sentencing for Sexual Abuse
How can Sexual Abuse be Prevented?
Sexual Abuse Data & Statistics
Sexual Abuse Helplines, Support & Further Reading

Sexual abuse victims can find it extremely difficult to talk about their experiences, some feel ashamed or too scared to come forward. However, reporting the abuse is the first step towards protecting yourself or a loved one. No one should have to deal with the trauma of being sexually abused on their own. In this guide, we discuss how victims can report sexual abuse and who they can report the abuse to.

Who can or should I report Sexual Abuse to?

You can report sexual abuse to the police or you may wish to contact your nearest Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs). SARCs offer a range of services including medical, practical and emotional support for anyone who has experienced sexual assault or abuse.

Remember reporting the matter to the police should be something you decide to do, you should not feel pressurised into doing this. It is important that you take your time and think of how you want to report the sexual abuse, you need to be comfortable and may need some support when you decide to do this.

If you are an adult experiencing or have experienced sexual abuse, you may wish to contact the following organisations for further help and guidance;

  • The Survivors Trust
    Provide specialist support for women, men and children who have survived rape, sexual violence or childhood sexual abuse.
    01788 550554

For sexual abuse involving minors, you may wish to contact your local authority for details of social services in your area, reporting can be done anonymously. Please find below details of organisations which will be able to help;

  • Childline 
    0800 1111
    Support for children and young people in the UK, including a free helpline and 1-2-1 online chats with counsellors.
  • Kidscape
    0207 823 5430
    Information and advice for parents, carers and young people with concerns about school bullying and abuse.
    An organisation which helps victims of child abuse
    If you’re worried about a child contact:
    0808 800 5000
    Telephone lines are open Monday to Friday 8 am – 10 pm or 9 am – 6 pm at the weekends. You can contact them online or by email 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

How do I report Sexual Abuse whilst it’s happening to me?

Do not attempt to fight with the abuser or do anything that will put your safety at risk, the abuser should not know of your intentions to leave or to report the matter. Not only can this lead to a potentially dangerous situation, but the abuser may try to use their manipulation tactics to begin to regain control over you.

Remember to focus on a safe time to escape, this doesn’t have to be right away. However in an emergency always call the police on 999.  It is always better to reach out and speak to someone for some help and support. However, if you do not have a support network, there are plenty of organisations that can help and provide you with advice. You will of course need to consider your immediate safety options for both the short and long term.

How do I report past Sexual Abuse that happened to me?

Remember it is never too late to report abuse. You can contact the police on the non-emergency number 101 and speak to them, they may ask you to provide a statement. Recalling the traumatic experience may cause further emotional distress so make sure you have a good network of support to help you through this. You may wish to consider counselling, talking to specially trained individuals who will have an understanding of your experience

How do I report Sexual Abuse happening to someone I know?

If you are worried about the safety and welfare of someone you know and unsure about what to do, you may wish to contact the police on the non-emergency number 101. They will be able to guide you further on the best course of action, however, If there is a risk of immediate danger dial 999. Alternatively, you may wish to report the abuse but want to remain anonymous in which case you can contact Crimestoppers at 0800 555111.

Remember you need to ensure the safety of the victim and yourself, for example, calling the police may risk more harm to the victim as they may not be in a position to speak truthfully about what has happened. It is better to approach the victim and arrange a safety plan in which you know when to contact the police.

What happens after Sexual Abuse is reported?

Depending on the severity of the sexual abuse and how recently it occurred, the police may do the following;

  • They may attempt to gather further evidence– you may be asked to retain and not wash the clothing you were wearing at the time. Depending on when the sexual abuse occurred, you might be asked to take part in a forensic examination.
  • Ask you to provide details of any other witnesses who can corroborate your report- this could be family members, friends, your GP or anyone who witnessed or knew about the sexual abuse.
  • Ask you to provide a detailed statement- this can be taken either as a written statement or video interview, and the officers will discuss these options with you.
  • May arrest and interview the offender (if you are wanting to prosecute) – if the identity of the offender is not known then the police will make every effort to identify the person or people responsible for the assault.

After completing their investigation, the police normally pass the file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which will decide whether there is enough evidence and if it is in the public interest to charge and convict the offender. This may involve a court process in which you will be required to give evidence.

We understand how difficult it is to see someone you know or love experiencing abuse, sometimes trying to help a victim is not easy. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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