What is it?
SARC Teesside is a Sexual Assault Referral Centre based in Middlesbrough at the North Ormesby Health Village.
There are around 40 Sexual Assault Referral Centres in the UK, each covering a geographical area largely in line with local policing areas. SARC Teesside sits within the same boundaries as Cleveland Police, covering Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesbrough, Stockton, and Hartlepool.
SARC Teesside provides independent support 24 hours a day for people who have experienced rape, sexual assault, or other abuse. It does not matter whether a person wants to report the assault to the police, or whether the offence happened recently or a long time ago.
The SARC provides comfortable, supportive surroundings, forensically-secure areas, and interview facilities to ensure that victims of sexual violence receive the best possible service towards recovery.
Who is it for?
SARC is available to anyone, of any gender, who has experienced sexual violence - including rape, sexual assault, or other forms of sexual abuse, including online sexual abuse - whether recent or historic.
The service is primarily for anyone aged 16 and over, but anyone can speak to a specialist SARC Support Coordinator on 03333 44 8283 (24 hours).
SARC is the local expert hub for sexual violence should any professionals need advice after receiving a disclosure of sexual violence.
What to expect at the SARC
Clients will meet a SARC Support Coordinator who will talk about the options available. This may include arranging for somebody to check their immediate physical and sexual health needs.
It will be done at the client's pace, and staff will not need to know every detail about what has happened.
Staff will not insist that the client tells the police, but will want to make sure that they're safe.
Forensic medical examination
There may be the option for a forensic medical examination if the assault occurred recently, if the client consents.
The examination will collect evidence which might help with an investigation if they have made a police report, or if they might want to do so at a later date.
The collection of forensic evidence can include an intimate examination, but may also include the collection of clothing and other items. It is better to get this done as early as possible after the assault so that evidence is not lost.
The client's health and wellbeing must come first. Forensic Medical Examiners can attend off-site settings if needed, for example, hospital, nursing home, etc.
Sexual health / emergency contraception
Emergency contraception can be provided if needed, and pregnancy testing can be carried out if the client thinks they are already pregnant.
Clients might be offered post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
STI testing and wider sexual health services are not provided at the SARC, but they can be arranged with local sexual health clinics.
SARC staff will discuss options for follow-on support based on the client's needs and circumstances. This could be anything from domestic abuse services, counselling, an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, or refuge, among other options.
One referral into SARC can ensure that all appropriate services are put in place through agreed referral pathways.
If a client discloses sexual assault or rape you need to consider the following:
- a quick referral to SARC can ensure needs are addressed within the relevant timescales
- where possible, you must get the client's consent before making a referral.
- if a client does not have the capacity to consent, contact the SARC for help
- for recent cases - always refer by phone due to the time-limited nature of some services
- for non-recent cases - refer by phone or via the professional referral page on the SARC website
For any further information, please visit the SARC Teesside website or call 03333 44 8283 (24 hours).