Should I report it to the Police?

We will support you regardless of whether you choose to report or have already done so.

If you are thinking of reporting to the police, it might take a few hours to make the report. Usually you are asked to make a statement when you report but you can ask to speak with an officer first and then decide if you want to report.

If you do not remember everything don't worry, you can add to the statement the following day. It can be a good idea to take the name and number of police officer who you see in case you do wish to add to your statement.

If the attack or abuse that you experienced happened some time ago, you will be asked to give a statement but you will not be asked to have an examination.

If you have recently been raped or sexually assaulted, you will be asked to have a medical examination. You can ask for a female doctor but this might not be possible, depending on the area you live in. The timescale can be quite important as the examination is looking for forensic evidence. The timescales for forensic evidence from an internal source are within the first 72 hours, although other forensic evidence, such as a hair or stains to clothing, can be detected up to between 5 and 7 days later.

If you have recently been raped or sexually assaulted it is very natural to want to wash, or to take a drink to help with shock. This can destroy evidence, however, so police advice is to try not to wash or eat or drink anything before going to the police. If you have changed out of the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault, you should take this with you to give to the police.

If it has been a recent attack it is likely that you will be asked to return to where it happened so that further evidence can be gathered. It is also possible that you will be asked to return to the police station a couple of days after you report in case bruising has become visible.

Whether the attack has been recent or happened a long time ago it is entirely your own decision whether or not to report. It can however, be helpful to talk it through or to get some support. You can take a friend or relative to the police station to wait for you and give support, or you can contact RASASH whose staff may be able to go with you. The RCS Helpline is available to offer support and information if you are thinking about reporting or want to talk it through after you have done so.

I reported it to Police and they made an arrest but I haven’t heard anything for weeks. Has the case been dropped?

It is common not to hear. Often the legal process can take quite a long time. If the accused is held in custody, the case has to be heard in court within 140 days. The accused is often released on bail unless he has previous convictions for sexual violence, is on parole or is wanted for another crime. If the accused has been released on bail, the case should be heard within 1 year, although this can be extended to 18 months at the judge's discretion.

If you want to check what is happening with the case, contact your local Victim Information and Advice. Highland 01463 252186.

The local VIA office should make contact with you after the accused's first appearance in court.

If your case does go to court then you will be able to get support from the Witness Service which can organise a pre-court visit and support you on the day.

I’ve received a letter from the Procurator Fiscal saying that my case won’t be tried in court. Why didn’t they believe me?

The Procurator Fiscal receives the police investigation after the accused is caught. Their job is to look at the evidence and decide if it will stand up in court. Scots law requires corroborative evidence – that is at least 2 pieces of evidence which back each other up. Usually, your statement is one piece of evidence and the other/s can be forensic evidence, witnesses or in some cases of abuse, other survivors who have also reported against the same abuser.

If the Procurator Fiscal does not have enough evidence to proceed, the case is dropped. This is not your fault and it does not mean that you have not been believed.

I’m scared I might see my rapist again, what can I do?

Depending on who they are, for example, acquaintance, workmate, relation or stranger, you will have an idea of whether or not you are likely to see them again.

If you have reported the attack to the police and it's going to court, it is an offence for the accused to approach you. If they do so you should report this to the police.

If they live close by and continues to intimidate or threaten you, you can report this to the police. You can also consider applying for an interdict to prevent them from approaching you or your home.

If the sexual violence has been carried out by your partner or ex-partner you could consider approaching Women's Aid for support, information and accommodation.

If you are a young person aged 16+ and the abuse has been carried out by a parent or guardian, RASASH can help put you in touch with projects which specialise in supporting young people affected by sexual abuse, some of which offer accommodation.

If you are a young person under the age of 16 you could tell any trusted adult who has a responsibility to make sure you are safe. This could be a parent/carer, social worker, teacher, youth club worker, doctor. You are not to blame for what has happened and have the right to live in safety.

If the attacker was a stranger, you may be worried about seeing them, for example in town. This is a very understandable fear. It can help to think about steps you can take to make you feel more confident. This could be attending a self defence course, carrying a mobile phone, arranging to meet a friend, thinking about what times of day and what places feel ok for you.

Can I claim Criminal Injuries Compensation?

Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to apply for criminal injuries compensation. You can get free advice from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority on Freephone: 0800 358 3601 (www.cica.gov.uk) or from organisations such as Victim Support on 0845 303 0900 (www.victimsupport.org.uk) or Citizens Advice (www.citizensadvice.org.uk)

The address for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority is: Tay House, 300 Bath Street, GLASGOW, G2 4LN