What will happen when I come to the St Mary’s Centre?

We understand that you may be feeling scared and frightened and that you may not feel able to trust anyone. At St Mary’s our main aim is to provide you with information, choice and control on what will happen to you. We want you to feel comfortable with the decisions you take. We will support you in your choice whatever that may be.

If you have made a report to the Police, a specially trained police officer will come with you to the Centre. A forensic doctor and a crisis worker, who have both had extensive experience and knowledge in supporting people who have been raped or sexually assaulted, will meet you.

The crisis worker will welcome you to the Centre and take you into an initial room, usually on your own. This is in case you feel embarrassed about discussing the case in front of others. The crisis worker is there to support you. They will explain what is going to happen and make sure you understand what is going on. They will try to answer any questions you may have. They will ask you for some details about you, including how best to contact you in the future so that we can offer you any ongoing support. You don’t have to tell the Crisis Worker what happened to you such as the details of the attack.

While you are with the crisis worker, the doctor will meet with the police officer who will give them an account of the assault. This helps the doctor consider what samples to take during the forensic medical examination as well as determine what other medical needs you may have.

When you are ready the doctor will invite you into the forensic medical room where the examination will take place. The purpose of the forensic medical examination is to look after your health needs and gather evidence that can be used in any investigation of your assault.

The details of the forensic examination will partly depend upon how much time has passed since your attack. Once the examination is complete, you will have the chance to shower and change into fresh clothing but you may prefer to wait until you go home.

Your crisis worker will show you into the sitting room and offer you a hot drink or snack. They will then talk to you about the aftercare services offered by St Mary’s. They will also check your contact details so that our Independent Sexual Violence Advisor can contact you over the next few days.

The doctor will complete all her records. If any forensic samples were taken these will be handed over to the police officer with a brief report that will help in any investigation.

If the police are involved with your complaint then the doctor may be requested to provide a statement for court. This is likely to include medical details. A copy of the statement and the medical records made by the doctor will be sent to the lawyers involved in the case.

A key element of our service is providing sexual health screening and access to emergency contraception and any other relevant medical issues. The doctor will discuss these with you fully before you leave.

The police officer will then take you home.

Often the process can take up to three hours, sometimes longer. We will go at your pace and believe that it is important that you don’t feel rushed. Afterwards you will be offered follow up services as necessary for you and support for as long as you need it.