What is a SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre)?
SARCs are specialist medical and forensic services for anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted.
They aim to be one-stop service, providing the following under one roof: medical care and forensic examination following assault/rape and, in some locations, sexual health services. Medical Services are free of charge and provided to women, men, young people and children.
SARCs are mostly able to assist in the immediate aftermath of an assault but do not offer long term specialised counselling and advocacy services that are provided by Rape Crisis Centres. SARCs are funded and run in partnership, usually between the NHS, police and the voluntary sector.
Most SARCs are able to offer medical services to anyone including those who do not wish to report the assault to the police (‘self referrals'). Service users can then chose whether they would like to inform the police at a later stage and have their samples stored whilst they are considering what to do next. It is hoped that through this option service users can take back some control over what is happening whilst allowing more time to make such an important decision.
In order to preserve any evidence that may be present it is vital that help from the SARC is accessed as immediately as possible after an assault. In addition, SARC's can advise on and assist with other medical needs. For information and to book an appointment, phone the SARC nearest to you.
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