If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse, you can reach out for help.
- I have been sexually assaulted
- Something happened in my relationship or family
- Something happened to me as a child
- Something happened to me in my workplace
It’s not your fault. We are here to help you.
It is not your fault.
You do not have to do this on your own.
We understand that it can be difficult to reach out and ask for help when you have experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse.
The way people respond following sexual assault can be different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Common reactions include feeling lost, scared, angry, and confused. Our counsellors will listen and support you with your recovery journey. It is your choice whether you want to talk about what happened. Sometimes people prefer to talk about the impact on their everyday life.
We can help you to work out your options and consider what you want to do next. We can also go with you if you decide to have a medical examination or to report to police. We are here to support you, and it is always your choice to decide what is right for you.
Medical and Forensic Help
After a recent assault, you may choose to reach out to medical services for assistance. There are specialist forensic medical services at the hospital. Staff are trained to provide care for people who have experienced sexual assault.
If you prefer, you can have a medical examination to check for and attend to any physical injuries. It is not uncommon for people to have health concerns after a recent sexual assault. This can include concerns about contracting sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). For women, there may be concerns about pregnancy. Medical staff can provide further information.
You can bring a support person with you.
One of our counsellors can also be there with you, to offer support and answer any questions you might have.
General Practitioner’s, Health Clinics or Family Planning Tasmania can also provide information regarding STI’s and pregnancy.
What is a Forensic Medical Examination?
This is a specialised examination done by a nurse or doctor who has training in this area. The purpose is to gather evidence for criminal proceedings. One of our counsellors can support you through this process.
To be able to gather evidence, it is important to have a forensic medical examination as soon as possible after a sexual assault. This is usually done within the timeframe of 72 hours. In some cases, evidence can be collected within a week of the assault. The forensic medical team can provide further information regarding whether evidence can be collected after one week.
If you have a forensic medical examination, you can still choose not to report the incident to police. You do not have to make a decision about this right away. We will always respect your decision.
Forensic medical examinations are kept confidential and off your hospital health record.
How Do I Get a Forensic Medical Examination?
You can contact the hospital or you can contact Laurel House. We can help you through the process. You may want to have a support person such as a friend or family member with you during the examination.
Do I Have to Report to the Police?
No. This decision is up to you. The evidence that is gathered at the forensic medical examination can only be given to the police with your consent. Also, you do not have to decide whether you will make a report to the police straight away.
Things to Keep in Mind
Some things you do after an assault can affect a forensic medical examination.
- avoid showering/washing until after the examination
- do not change your clothes
- If you bring any clothes or items from the assault with you, they are better kept in a paper bag rather than a plastic one
- hold off on eating/going to the toilet until after the exam
Not all of these things will be practical; you may not be able to do all of these things.
Reporting to Police
If it is an emergency and you are in immediate danger, call 000.
You can report a recent incident or something that happened a long time ago. There is no time limit to reporting sexual assault or sexual abuse.
In most cases, you would visit your local police station to make the report. We can go with you, and we can help you arrange the process by calling police for you. We can support you even if you do not wish to engage in counselling with us.
You can request either a female or male police officer to take your statement.
We can provide information on what happens when you make an informal or formal report to the police. If you decide to proceed with a report to the police, the police officer will explain the process and options to you at the time. We can provide support throughout the process.
For children and young people under the age of 18 years, there are mandatory reporting requirements.
24/7 Support Hotline
We offer a 24-hour support hotline. If you call the hotline, we can assist even if you wish to remain anonymous. We can help with advocacy, support, strategies, and options to manage times of intense distress.
Anyone who has been subjected to sexual violence, or is a support person for a survivor, can access this hotline in times of crisis.
Some people contact Laurel House after a recent assault, whereas others are looking for help with something that happened a long time ago, or in their childhood. We can provide free counselling support to survivors and non-offending support people. We understand that this can be a difficult step to take.
Our services are confidential. If we have safety concerns, then we may need to share information with those who can help. We will only disclose information relevant to ensure safety.
While we sometimes have waiting lists for ongoing counselling services, we can offer to provide you with check-in phone support, until a place becomes available. We encourage you to contact us at any time that you feel you need support, or if your circumstances change.
- Will believe you
- Know that what happened to you is not your fault
- Will help you find ways to cope with the effects of trauma
- Will let you decide whether you want to talk about what happened. If you prefer you can talk about the effects and how they impact on your life
- Believe you can heal and recover without talking about the trauma details.
For more information about our counselling services, click here.