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Sexual violence

Anyone suffering sexual violence or abuse regardless of gender, age, race, faith, religion, disability, or sexuality should be able to get recovery support from local services. In Middlesbrough we are determined to support victims to rebuild their lives, report these crimes, and make sure abusers are brought to justice.

The effects of sexual violence on victims can include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), drug and substance misuse, self-harm, and suicide. But when victims get the support they need, when they need it, they're more likely to take positive steps to recovery. So it's important that victims of sexual violence have good access to local services, whether or not they want to report anything to the police.

What is sexual violence?


Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. If someone intentionally grabs or touches you in a sexual way that you don’t like, if you’re forced to kiss someone or do something else sexual against your will, this is a sexual assault.

If you're forced to have sex with someone, or someone has sex with you without your consent or agreement, this is rape.

Rape or sexual assault can happen to anyone of any gender, age, or background. If you've been a victim of sexual violence, it's important to remember that it's not your fault. Whether it's a recent assault, or the abuse happened a long time ago, rape and sexual assault are criminal offences, and the blame lies with the abuser.

Are you a professional?


  • Listen
  • Let them stay in control
  • Respect their decisions
  • Be patient
  • Believe them
  • Remember it's not their fault
  • Recognise their courage


  • Don't ask why they didn't say anything sooner
  • Don't judge
  • Don't ask them why they didn't fight back

For more detailed information on supporting a survivor visit the Rape Crisis website.

I'm a victim of sexual violence


As a victim/survivor of sexual violence, it can be very hard to forget about what's happened, no matter how hard you try. Common feelings after rape or sexual assault can include self-blame, guilt, fear, anxiety, shame, and anger. People who have experienced sexual violence may feel confused, scared, or angry. It's important to remember that sexual violence is unacceptable, and you're not to blame

As part of the healing process, breaking the silence and talking about your thoughts and feelings can help. Only you will know when the time feels right for you. Taking this step can be the beginning of regaining control over your life.

How do I report it to the police?

In an emergency, call 999.

Sexual violence is a crime. Just like any other crime, you can report it to the police. They will investigate, and give you a specially trained officer to help you. It's your choice whether or not to make a police report.

Get support from Cleveland Police.

Support after sexual violence

What is a SARC?


A Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) is a specialist service which supports victims of sexual violence.

A SARC has specially trained staff who can discuss all the options with you, so you can make your own choices.

SARC staff will support you whether or not you want to make a police report. They're committed to making sure you get the support and information you need, whatever you decide to do. They always follow safeguarding procedures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all of their clients.

Get support from SARC Teesside now.

What is an ISVA?


An Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) supports victims of sexual violence. They'll make sure you have the best possible advice about:

  • what counselling and services are available to you
  • the steps involved in reporting a crime to the police
  • taking your case through the criminal justice process, if you choose to

They're trained to look after your needs, and make sure that you're given care and understanding. They'll help you understand how police and criminal justice processes work, and will explain things to you.

ISVAs work completely independently of all other agencies. Their only interest is supporting you. They'll work on your behalf to make sure you have all the information you need. If the case goes to court, they'll be there to support you throughout the trial, as well as afterwards if you feel like you need it.

An ISVA is there to give you information, so that you can make the right decision for you. Contacting them does not mean you're expected to report any offence to the police.

Get ISVA support from Arch Teesside.

What is sexual violence and abuse counselling?


It's normal for your mental health to be affected if you're the victim of sexual violence. It's a traumatic experience which people often need support to come to terms with. Looking after your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

For many people, speaking to a counsellor can help. Counsellors who work with survivors are trained to help with the psychological effects of sexual violence. These may include low confidence levels, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

You can speak to a counsellor at any time, even if the abuse was many years ago. Talking with a counsellor can help you to process past emotions.

Get counselling from Arch Teesside.

Local support services

SARC Teesside


SARC Teesside offers a sensitive and dedicated service to anyone who has experienced rape or sexual assault. SARC Teesside is about offering you a choice, and their specially trained staff can explain and discuss all the options with you.

They are based at North Ormesby Health Village in Middlesbrough, and are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You can contact SARC Teesside via their 24 hour phone number, 03333 44 8283.

Their services include:

  • confidential advice
  • risk and need assessments to make sure you're safe
  • anonymous reporting to the police, or advocacy on your behalf with a direct report to the police
  • specialist medical and forensic examinations
  • storage of samples, giving you time to decide on reporting to police
  • support through police interviews
  • referrals to other agencies (with your consent) for specialist counselling and therapeutic support
  • ongoing support from an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA)

SARC Teesside will support you whether or not you want to make a police report. They are committed to ensuring that you get the support you need, whatever you decide to do.

Contact: 03333 44 8283 (24 hours a day) or visit the SARC Teesside website for more information.

Arch Teesside, rape and sexual abuse counselling and advisory service


Arch Teesside provides counselling, help, and support to adults who have suffered rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault, or childhood sexual abuse.

They are based in Middlesbrough and provide free, confidential sexual violence services across Teesside.

Arch Teesside offers support to men and women aged 14 years and over who have suffered rape or sexual abuse at any time in their lives. They offer a range of services to meet clients’ needs, including emotional and practical support, therapeutic counselling, and an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service. ISVAs support clients who have reported, or are thinking of reporting, their experience to the police.

For more information, or to speak to someone in confidence, contact:

Contact: 01642 822331 to speak to someone in confidence, or visit the Arch Teesside website for more information.

Monday and Friday: 8:30am to 4pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday: 8:30am to 7pm

Other support

Other contact numbers and information


Childline helpline for children and young people: 0800 1111 (open 24 hours a day), or visit the Childline website for more information

NSPCC helpline for adults worried about a child or young person: 0808 800 5000 (open 24 hours a day), or visit the NSPCC website for more information

Rape Crisis: 0808 802 9999 (12pm to 2:30pm, and 7pm to 9:30pm), or visit the Rape Crisis website for more information and live chat

Returning to the UK after sexual violence abroad

SurvivorsUK - male victims/survivors specialist: call 020 3598 3898 or visit the SurvivorsUK website for more information and live chat