Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week

7 – 13 February 2022 is Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week which is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of sexual abuse and violence.

The NHS highlight that 44% of people don’t know where to get help after a sexual assault. They have produced a short film about the support available from Sexual Assault Referral Centres or SARCs:

You can find out more about the North East SARC by visiting:

What is the Sexual Assault Referral Centre?

In the North East, the service is run by R.E.A.C.H (Rape, Examination, Advice. Counselling & Help). R.E.A.C.H. offers helps to men and women who have been raped or sexually assaulted, aged 16 or over when the assault occurred.

The North East SARC-support service provides 24 hour crisis intervention and support for anyone who has experienced a sexual offence. Crisis support workers will outline the options available and provide support throughout any subsequent process. The crisis workers will also provide help to gain access to local specialist service providers. One of the key principles of the service is that support is not dependent upon a report being made to the Police. Experienced staff can help people with their choices around this.

There is access to a forensic medical examination by a Sexual Assault Nurse examiner who will be accompanied by a fully trained SARC Support Co-ordinator. If a person chooses to have a forensic medical examination, the results do not need to be passed onto the Police. They could be used at a later date if the person changes their mind and wishes to make a report.

How can services and support from the SARC be accessed?

The service can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0333 3448283.

Alternatively, the SARC can be emailed via: or (secure email)

If someone is in immediate danger, please call 999.

Most referrals to the SARC are made by the Police following an alleged sexual assault or rape. Depending on the nature of the sexual assault and forensic timeframes, a forensic examination may be arranged to ensure collection of forensic evidence that may assist in a police investigation. Immediate medical needs are also assessed and onward referrals to other support agencies are made.

Victims can also self-refer to the SARC using the 0333 3448283 24/7 Crisis Support number without reporting the incident to the police. All of the services can still be offered as in a police case, however, any samples taken will be stored within the SARC until the victim decides if they want to report the incident. Any samples stored on-site will be kept for 7 years then destroyed.

Each case will be assessed on a case by case basis depending on the needs of the victim, the health care needs and forensic timeframe. Consent of the victim is required at all stages of the SARC process, however, if the victim lacks capacity for what ever reason, this needs to be carefully assessed by those who know the victim best (GP, Social Worker, Psychiatrist, Hospital Consultant) and in consultation with family, Lasting Power of Attorney or Deputy. A best interest decision may be required depending on the circumstances.

Other useful services and support

Name of serviceContact detailsOther information
Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland 0191 222 0272
Services for women and girls aged over 13 who have experienced any form of sexual violence at any time in their lives. Services include confidential counselling, advocacy helpline, email support, specialist information and Independent Sexual Violence Advisor services.

Sexual Violence Telephone Helpline and Email Support

0800 035 2794
For women who need to talk to someone about rape or sexual abuse
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 6 pm and 8.30 pm
Friday between 11 am and 2 pm
Tyneside Women’s Health0191 4777898Mental health and wellbeing support for women.
Survivors UK0845 122 1201Support for male survivors of sexual abuse, assault or rape
MESMAC0191 233 1333Support for gay and bisexual men
Panah0191 284 6998Support, advice and information for Black/Asian women on domestic violence.
NIDAS (Newcastle Integrated Domestic Abuse service)0191 214 6645A range of support for people experiencing domestic abuse, including Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA) support
Victims First Northumbria0800 011 3116Help and support for victims of crime.