What we do
Treetops SARC are a ‘Sexual Assault Referral Centre’. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, we are here to help you. We will help you recover from both the physical and emotional effects of the assault. All our staff is specially trained to support anyone who experienced rape or sexual assault. This could have been recently or in the past. You will always be believed and treated with the utmost dignity and respect.
You will be able to access our full range of services. Our medical and emotional support services are confidential. That means that unless there is a concern that you or anyone else is at risk of serious harm, we won’t tell anyone you’ve contacted us or come to see us if you don’t want us to.
Crisis Worker support
Our team of Crisis Workers offer 24-hour telephone support service, you can ring them at any time on 0300 123 6616.
The Crisis Worker is the first person you will meet of you come to Treetops; they understand that you have been through a major trauma and personal crisis. They are non-judgmental and will always respect what you say. Crisis Workers have received special training to support people who have experienced rape or sexual assault. They will act as your advocate and represent your best interests from the moment you arrive at Treetops. They understand how important it is for your voice to be heard. It is their main responsibility to ensure you have all the information, time and space you need to make any decisions about your immediate care. Crisis workers are completely independent from the police.
Forensic Medical Examination
If you have been sexually assaulted, a Forensic Medical Examination will be offered to you if you have been assaulted within the previous 7 days. This is a special check-up to collect evidence, which may help with the investigation of the assault. The examination is important because we want to look after your medical needs as well as collecting forensic evidence. It is your choice whether you have one; however, it can provide useful evidence to support a police investigation. Very occasionally it may be helpful to have a forensic examination even if the assault happened longer than 7 days ago. It is best to have an examination as soon as possible after an assault as there is a better chance of finding evidence that can identify the person who did it. So, although it may be the last thing you may feel like doing, it is best to get it done straightaway.
If you tell the police what has happened to you, they will offer to bring you to Treetops SARC for a Forensic Medical Examination. However, you can also come and have an examination without telling the police. If you are unsure whether to report to the police, you can choose to have the examination and we can store any forensic evidence for you. You can then also access sexual health advice and emergency contraception. Treetops SARC will store your evidence samples for 2 years in case you decide that you do want to report.
A qualified forensic doctor or nurse carries out the examination. We understand that you might feel uncomfortable, but every effort is made to make sure you understand what is happening to you. You can change your mind about being examined at any time, including during the examination.
We know how important it is for you to feel in control of what happens to your body and your Crisis Worker will do everything possible to support you in that.
The forensic examination can seem frightening. It is not unusual to feel worried about it. Please remember that we will support you and take it at your own pace. You can stop it at any time. Our main concern is always you and we make sure that you are always treated with dignity and respect.
If you have been raped there is a chance that you may be pregnant, even if the person who assaulted you did not come (ejaculate) inside you. The Sexual Offences Examiner at Treetops can advise you on different types of emergency contraception and their effectiveness. We will discuss your needs when you visit Treetops SARC. This may be important if no contraception was used at all or if a contraception method fails.
The Sexual Offences Examiner can provide emergency contraception at Treetops. Alternatively, Emergency Contraception can be provided by your pharmacy or GP. You can find the address of your nearest pharmacy here.
Emergency contraception works best if it is taken as soon as possible. In some cases, the medicine can be taken up to 5 days after sex. We can also, when relevant, refer you to a pregnancy advisory service.
Sexual Health Services
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) can be caught by vaginal, anal or oral contact with someone who has the infection. Shared sex toys can also sometimes pass them on. STI’s can affect men, women or children. They often have no symptoms. If you come to Treetops, we can discuss your risk of STIs.
We will undertake a Hepatitis B and HIV risk-assessment to consider whether you should be given Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) medication. If indicated this can also be provided at Treetops.
We can provide you with a Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) self-sampling kit for you to take away and use at a later date. Usually you will also be offered an appointment at a Solent NHS Sexual Health clinic where specially trained and sympathetic staff will help you with your sexual health needs.
Young Persons Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (YPISVA)
If you are under 18, we offer support from a Young Person’s Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) to ensure you receive the best possible care. We also have a legal duty to share your information with Social Services. The Young Person’s ISVA can offer emotional and practical support, advocacy and assistance with health appointments and attend meetings with clients after the initial visit to the SARC.
You can download this document if you would like to know more about the training and qualifications of the staff at Treetops.