Sexual assault

Sexual assault is a statutory offence in England and Wales. It can happen to anyone – of any sexuality, race or gender.

Facts about sexual assault

Nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted each year in England and Wales.

Only 15% will report sexual violence to the police.

90% of those who are raped locally know the perpetrator prior to the offence.

Sexual assault is when a person (A) intentionally touches another person and/or (B) the touching is sexual AND there no consent from the person being touched and/or the person doing the touching does not reasonably believe that the other person is consenting.

If you believe you have been sexually assaulted, it is important to tell someone and get help and advice as soon as possible. If you tell a Health Professional, you will always be taken seriously and they will guide you to the best place to get the help you need.

Getting support and looking after your health after a sexual assault

In Dorset, The Shores is your Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and is based in Bournemouth. The SARC provides specialised services to individuals who have been raped or sexually assaulted.

This service is contactable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year and offers a safe, non-judgmental environment which focuses on the needs of the individual. It also offers ongoing referral and support.

  • There is an option not to involve the police if you don’t want to.
  • An examination can take place if the sexual assault or rape has happened in the last 10 days to obtain forensic evidence.
  • If it is over 10 days, there can be no forensic medical examination but they can still offer support and counselling.
  • Any treatment and care that may be needed can be given at the SARC.
  • If this isn’t possible (say, if more specialised advice is needed) this will be arranged by the Team there with your consent.

Other support services

STARS (Sexual Trauma and Recover Service) Dorset is a charity based in Poole who offer support and counselling to anyone affected by rape or sexual assault. This can be over the phone or face to face and is run by volunteers – often by women who have been through a similar experience.

For further information nationally and locally please visit:

To make an appointment or for further advice, please call:

0300 303 1948

Phoneline open 08:15-16:45 Monday-Friday

(closed 12:30-13:30 for lunch)