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Sexual assault and abuse

Are you being harmed or at risk of being harmed?

If you feel at immediate risk of harm, or you are being harmed, you should call the police on 999.

If you are feeling unsafe you can call Wirral Council’s Central Advice and Duty Team on 0151 606 2008 (open 9.00am-5.00pm)

Outside of these hours please phone the Emergency Duty Team on 0151 677 6557

What is a sexual assault?

A sexual assault can range from inappropriate touching to a life-threatening attack, rape or any other penetration of the mouth, vagina or anus. It's a myth that victims of sexual assault always look battered and bruised. A sexual assault may not leave any outward signs, but it's still a crime.

Victims are most likely to be young women aged 16 to 24. But men and women of any age, race, ability or sexuality can be assaulted. This could be by a stranger or, much more likely, someone you know. It could be a partner, former partner, relative or a friend. If it happens to you, don't be afraid to get help. You might want to tell someone you trust to support you in doing this.

Sexual abuse and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Sexual abuse is any kind of unwanted sexual experience; this does not only mean physical contact but can include someone making you feel uncomfortable whilst talking online, asking for inappropriate photographs, or verbal remarks. Sexual abuse can happen to anyone of any age. Sexual abuse is never a child or young persons’ fault

  • 1 in 6 Children have been sexually abused by the time they are 16
  • 8 out of 10 children know their abusers

Child Sexual Exploitation can happen online (also known as ‘online grooming’). When this happens, young people may be persuaded, or forced to:

  • send or post sexually explicit images of themselves.
  • take part in sexual activities via a webcam or smartphone
  • have sexual conversations by text or online

Abusers may threaten to send images, video or copies of conversations to the young person's friends and family unless they take part in other sexual activity.

Read more about online grooming on Teenwirral

If you feel you have been sexually assaulted or raped, you must tell someone you trust. This could be a family member or friend, your doctor, a school nurse, a youth worker or a teacher. You can also contact anyone at Brook or call ChildLine.

It’s really important that you seek help as soon as you can. If you are in imminent danger, please call the police on 999.

RASA Merseyside provides a specialist support service for children and young people affected by child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation (CSE). Its Sunflowers Project offers support to males and females under the age of 18, and it offers daytime and evening appointments. They can be contacted on 0151 650 0155 or by email at birkenhead@rasamerseyside.org

SAFE Place Merseyside

SAFE Place Merseyside is a sexual assault referral centre for the Merseyside area. The centre offers a service for males and females who have been sexually assaulted, either recently or at any time in the past.

What does SAFE Place Merseyside provide?

Based in Liverpool City Centre, SAFE Place Merseyside is staffed by highly-trained healthcare professionals who are there to support you. As well as emergency treatment, emergency contraception and advice on many other services, they can offer referrals to counsellors and can help you if you would like to contact the police.

They operate a policy of strictest client confidentiality and are there for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - you just need to call them on 0151 295 3550.

They can help and support you whether you were sexually assaulted days, weeks, months or even years ago.

How can I get help from SAFE Place?

There are two ways you can get help from SAFE Place. One way is through the police - if you have been sexually assaulted, you can report this to the police and they will arrange for you to visit SAFE Place for a forensic examination.

Or, you can self-refer without police involvement - SAFE Place can help you involve the police at a later stage if this is what you decide you would like to do. All you need to do is call 0151 295 3550. An operator will take your details in confidence, and you will receive a call back from one of the trained crisis workers who can advise you and arrange a time for your appointment to visit SAFE Place if needed. If you don't want to make that first call yourself, you could ask someone else to do it, such as a trusted friend, parent or teacher.

If you want to find out more about SAFE Place and what to expect, visit them online.

Further advice

If you're not sure what to do or you're worried about what will happen if you report a sexual assault to the police, you can call ChildLine on 0800 1111. They'll be able to let you know what will happen if you tell someone about your situation and help you work out what to do next. ChildLine is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

You can also view a Havens guide for young people on coping with sexual assault.

If you are struggling with the effects of sexual abuse or exploitation, online grooming, or sexual assault, the information provided by RASA Sunflowers Project below may help you to understand how you are feeling:

"Sexual abuse /assault can have a massive impact on how we feel about ourselves and the people around us. The impact of a sexual abuse/assault is a bit like a messy wardrobe.  All the clothes are screwed up and placed in the wardrobe which means that every time you walk past the wardrobe, everything falls out.  No matter how hard we keep trying to push the clothes back in, they will continue to fall out.  This is a little bit like emotions.  When we try to push thoughts and feelings to the back of our mind, we never learn to deal with the upsetting thoughts, and the slightest reminder can make us think of upsetting memories. 

The wardrobe door will not close firmly shut, until you take each individual item out of the cupboard and fold it neatly away.  This is what we need to do to tidy our mind as well.  We need to learn to untangle all the confusing and upsetting thoughts, and place them neatly away in our mind so that they no longer bother us.  Your worker will teach you to develop new ways of learning to do this, and new skills to help you cope better.  They will support you to look at your thoughts so that you are able to understand how they affect your feelings.  Once you are better able to understand yourself, we hope that your confidence will grow and you will start to enjoy your life more.  You are always in control of the things you talk about, and a worker will not force you to talk about anything you do not want to.

We know that it can be difficult to talk about thoughts and feelings, so if you do not feel comfortable just talking, your worker will do some creative activities with you, such as art, which will help you to express yourself in a different way. 

You may have reported what happened to you to the police.  If the police are investigating what you have told them, you may have lots of questions about what will happen next.  We have specific workers who can help you to understand what happens during a police investigation, and they will be able to answer your questions, or ask someone who will know the answer."