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Users of rape support service speak of help they received

Users of a service that provides support for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted have spoken of the help they received at the centre.

The Shores Sexual Assault Referral Centre provides expert advice and support for men, women and children who have been raped or sexually assaulted in Dorset.

The service, funded by Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset and NHS England, is contactable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and provides a safe and non-judgemental environment focusing on the needs of the individual.

The Bournemouth centre is able to offer a wide range of help – from crisis support workers who explain what their options are, to specialist nurses and doctors who are able to undertake examinations, talk about any medical concerns, and where appropriate gather forensic evidence.

People who are over 18 can come to the SARC without telling the police.  If they decide to report the assault to the police, specially-trained officers are made available.

The service also provides independent sexual violence advisors, who can support victims in the weeks and months after their visit, liaising with agencies within the criminal justice system on their behalf. This service is provided through the charity Dorset Rape Crisis. They are also able to arrange sexual health screening at clinics nearest to where the victim lives.

One service user said: “I was scared and worried with my anxiety, but I was reassured all the way and felt calm and relaxed, and was given a cup of tea.” 

Another said: “They let me know when they were going to do the necessary medical stuff, and they were so patient, supportive and lovely! They made me feel very in control.” 

Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “While it is very sad that this service and others like it are so badly needed, clearly the emotional and practical support that The Shores is able to offer people, who have been through one of the worst experiences imaginable, is absolutely fantastic.

“Having visited The Shores, I have seen first-hand the incredible work done there by dedicated staff and volunteers to make victims feel supported and for their voices heard.”

Nikki Luffingham, Director of Commissioning Health and Justice South NHS England said: “Sexual Assault Referral Centres provide a vital, non- judgemental service supporting anyone affected by rape or sexual assault. Being cared for by specially trained staff and being able to talk through the experience is often the first step towards recovery. The Shores is providing a much needed and important service.”

Diane Gray, crisis support worker at The Shores, said: “I always have a huge amount of respect for each and every person who decides to come to The Shores for support. It takes a huge amount of bravery and courage to share such personal information after experiencing what is often a terrible trauma. 

“It’s important for us to empower the client to make their own decisions with regards to support, which will help them to take back control.”

For further information and support:

The centre is based at:

The Shores

5 Madeira Road 
BH1 1QQ        

Anyone who needs to contact the centre should phone 01202 552 056 at any time.

The centre can also be contacted on but note the e-mail address is only monitored during office hours.

If you are in an emergency – if a crime is in progress or life is in danger – contact the police immediately on 999.

In a non-emergency call 101 or use the Ask Ned service.

If you have experienced sexual violence, or if you know someone who has, there are many organisations that can help.

If you or someone you know requires support, there are also other organisations who can help:

Dorset Rape Crisis

Telephone: 01202 308 855

National Domestic Abuse helpline

Telephone: 0808 2000 247

Perpetrators – For advice about changing behaviour, call the Respect helpline on 0845 122 8609.

For a list of local and national organisations that can help visit

For young people experiencing abuse visit for advice and support.


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