Where a sexual offence involves a child under the age of 18, we have a duty of care to report this to the police. But if you are over the age of 18, and provided you are not a vulnerable adult, then it is your decision whether you want to report the abuse you have suffered.
We recognise that this can be an extremely hard decision to make. It is important that you make the decision on accurate information and not based on myths, fears and stereotypes of the criminal justice system. Lifecentre can provide you with an independent sounding board to help you think through what you want to do. You may find it helpful to consider the following questions and to discuss them with your counsellor if you wish:
- What are your fears about reporting?
- What do you want to achieve through reporting?
- What can you achieve even if the courts cannot get a conviction?
- In reporting to the police, are there any things that you know could trigger you into having a flashback? Think about things you could do to protect yourself if this is the case.
- While you are speaking to the police, how will you know when you might need to take a break?
- What vulnerable reactions might you have to people in positions of authority? You might need to think about whether you might regress into those reactions when you talk with the police.
- Is there any support you would like to ask of your counsellor through this time? Are there any things you are feeling but have never talked about?
What are my options?
Reporting the incident
Many people are motivated to report to the police out of a desire to prevent perpetrators from abusing others in the future. Reporting to the police can also send out a clear message that you are not a ‘victim’, that you will not be silenced or come under fear of the person/s who abused you. It can be a way of taking some of the power back, speaking out and being heard. Irrespective of whether it becomes possible to get a guilty verdict in court, by reporting to the police you will have broken some of the chains that can make us victims rather than survivors.
The police take this very seriously and specialist trained officers are there to support you through the reporting process and investigation process.
You can report to the police in a number of ways:
In person at your nearest police station
Over the phone:
- Emergency – Call 999
Is someone in immediate danger? Is a crime taking place or has one just happened? If so, call 999 now and ask for the police.
- If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, use their textphone service 18000 or text on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergency SMS service.
- Non-emergency – Call 101
All reports made using this service are reviewed by 24/7 contact centre within a few hours and an officer will get back to you in a maximum of two days (although usually quicker).
Online via the police website:
Met Police – How to report a crime
You may decide for good reasons that making a full report to the police is not the route you want to take. It may not be best for you. For many people this is a good decision and enables them to concentrate on their own healing and ability to rebuild life positively.
Making a third-party report
There is a third option that you might want to consider. This is to make an anonymous third-party report of the rape/sexual assault you have been through, via Lifecentre. We can do this for you if the rape/sexual assault happened in Sussex, as we have set up a third-party reporting system with Sussex Police. If it occurred outside of Sussex, we could contact the police force in the area where it did occur to see if they will accept a third-party report under the same agreement as we have with Sussex Police (although they may not agree to do this as it is a special system that we have set up in Sussex).
The advantage of a third-party report is that you can give as much detail as you choose about the offender/s and what happened, but without disclosing who you are.
A few words of advice when reporting to the police
- Be prepared for the long-term nature of police investigations of this type. Try not to put your life on hold waiting for the investigation to conclude. This is not your life – it is your past! Carry on living your life and your future.
- Do not allow a conviction to be proof of your truth. You are believed and you know your truth, irrespective of what it is possible for the criminal justice system to prove.
- The police will be working for you to put together the evidence for your case. This is their focus. Your counsellor at Lifecentre and any friends who are around you are there to support you emotionally.
- At Lifecentre we want to support you through this time in ways which are helpful for you. Please do not hesitate to make requests of us.
Supporting you in making your decision
You can use us at Lifecentre as an independent sounding board to help you think through whether to report to the police.
Call our helplines
Our national telephone helpline – 0808 802 0808
Phone lines are open Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 7:30p.m. – 10:00p.m. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones within the UK. We use the Helpline Freephone Range, which means that calls to our helpline are free from landlines and mobile phones within the UK and do not appear on itemised bills.
Our national text helpline – 07717 989 022
The text helpline is open for two hours at varying times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). You can text us at any time, however, and we will get back to you during these hours. Texts will be charged at your standard network rate.
The Lifecentre office is open Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 3.30pm.
To request counselling, make a general enquiry or speak with a member of our fundraising team, please call 01243 786349.
If you call during opening hours and get through to an answering machine it will be because we are on the phone to someone else at that time. Please either leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible or make contact again at another time.
If you cannot get through to us quickly enough and time is of the essence, then please contact your local Sexual Assault Referral Centre.
If you live in Sussex, contact the Saturn Centre on 01293 600469 (their helpline is open 24 hours) or phone the police on 999.
From report to court
If you would like to read in detail about what happens when you report a sexual crime, we recommend you take a look at the article ‘from report to court’, which is full of clear information.
“I feel I have gained ability to address my child abuse through the courts with a successful outcome to me personally. It really has been amazingly powerful, being able to look into my past issues and learn how to deal with them. I now have more confidence and believe the whole Lifecentre service has been successful.”