Support for Individuals
There is no right or wrong way to feel after being sexually assaulted. It is normal to feel a range of emotions from anxiety to anger, and even numbness. When these experiences and feelings are mixed in with the complication of work, it can be an overwhelming prospect. Working in healthcare can involve many different types of work for lots of different people, but we always expect to feel safe at work. When that safety is gone healthcare can be an isolating place. The tangle of managers, bureaucracy, colleagues, and career can be difficult to figure out. Knowing where to turn can be hard and so we have written this guide.
If a sexual assault or rape incident has just happened:
- Find somewhere that feels safe.
- If you feel able to call or message someone you trust.
- Talk to someone about what has happened. If you don’t want to tell a friend or family member you can call the Rape Crisis National Helpline on 0808 802 9999.
- If you want to call the police you can call 999 or 101. Try not to shower, bathe, brush your teeth, eat or drink, change or wash your clothes, and if you do change clothes, put everything you were wearing into a plastic bag.
- You can also go to your nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). They will not force you to report to the police, but can record forensic evidence should you wish to report in the future. Your local SARC can be found via the NHS website (opens in new tab/window).
As well as the police you may want to report the perpetrator to your employer. There isn’t a unified system for reporting so the process will vary depending on your employer. You can speak to your line manager, clinical supervisor, department lead, freedom to speak up guardian, education lead if you are in training, or human resources. You can also report to the healthcare regulator for the profession of the perpetrator e.g. GMC, NMC, HCPC.
Sexual assault isn’t just an incident on one day, the effects can last a long time and finding the right support can make a big difference.
- Your local rape crisis centre will be able to offer support such as information, counselling, group sessions and drop ins. They may also have an independent sexual violence advocate (ISVA) service, who will match you with an ISVA who will support you through reporting and dealing with the police. A list of centres can be found on Rape Crisis England and Wales’ website (opens in new tab/window).
- It is important to see your GP if you are struggling with your mental health, they will be able to refer onwards to talking therapies or trauma focussed services depending on what is available in your area.
- Rape Crisis England and Wales (opens in new tab/window) is a national charity offering information, support and guidance for survivors.
- The Survivors Trust (opens in new tab/window), a national charity that supports survivors of sexual assault and rape. Their website has a large information section and they run a helpline and livechat service.
- Victims Support (opens in new tab/window) offer a phone line, livechat and details for local groups .
- Mind have a list of resources and signposting (opens in new tab/window).
- Galop offer support for information for LGBT+ survivors of sexual violence (opens in new tab/window) and have a helpline 0800 999 5428.
- For all NHS staff:
- NHS Staff support has links to the Frontline text service and mental health hubs for staff. https://www.england.nhs.uk/supporting-our-nhs-people/support-now/
- Facebook: Tea and Empathy group
- For nursing and midwifery:
- Royal College of Nursing offer support for members with counselling and welfare support https://www.rcn.org.uk/Get-Help/Member-support-services.
- Royal College of Midwifery offer workplace support and advice to it’s members https://www.rcm.org.uk/supporting/getting-help/workplace-support/.
- For allied professionals:
- Health and Care Professions Council have a wellbeing hub with links to support https://www.hcpc-uk.org/covid-19/your-health-and-wellbeing/.
- For doctors:
- BMA offer 24/7 counselling and peer support regardless of membership status https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/your-wellbeing/wellbeing-support-services/counselling-and-peer-support-services. They can also offer advice related to employment on 0300 123 1233 and email email@example.com.
- BMA wellbeing directory https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/your-wellbeing#wellbeing-support-services.
- Doctors and dentists can self refer to Practitioner Health, an NHS service that support individuals struggling with mental health problems. https://www.practitionerhealth.nhs.uk/
- Facebook groups: Resilient GP
- Support for sexual harassment for any employee:
- Your professional union may be able to offer support on work.
- Employment support can also be found via ACAS and Citizens Advice.
- Rights of Women can offer legal advice and support for sexual harassment in the workplace, they run a helpline and have a guidance handbook. https://rightsofwomen.org.uk/get-advice/sexual-harassment-at-work-law/