The Shores

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, The Shores Sexual Assault Referral Centre is there to support you. They help you deal with and recover from the emotional and physical effects of the assault and can support you to report the incident to the police - but only if this is what you wish to do.

You can contact The Shores 24 hours a day on 01202 552056In an emergency, if a crime is in progress or life is in danger, please call 999. Email (monitored during office hours).

About us

The Shores provides an independent, professional and confidential service, with qualified and highly skilled staff that will listen and support you from the point of crisis and beyond.

Their expert team provides high quality care to men, women, children and young people who have been affected by rape and serious sexual assault.

Their services are provided free of charge and include:

  • crisis support
  • counselling referrals
  • health and welfare
  • information
  • police (only if you decide to report)

The Shores recognises all forms of sexual violence including; rape, sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse, rape in marriage, sexual exploitation and ritual abuse irrespective of whether the violence is from known or unknown perpetrators or how long ago the abuse happened.

The facilities

The Shores centre has one comfortable sitting area and two dedicated forensic examination suites with consultation rooms and shower facilities for clients undergoing a forensic medical examination following a recent sexual assault.

They also offer first aid, refreshments, toiletries and new clothes if those worn in to the centre are required for evidence.

The centre has a discreet entrance and exit as well as facilities for children and people with disabilities.

They provide:

  • a supportive environment for victims of rape or serious sexual assault
  • specially trained doctors and project workers
  • signposting to other services, including specialist rape and medical care
  • the choice of whether or not to report a rape or sexual assault to the police

The support offered

The Shores has a team of crisis support workers who support clients at the point of crisis onwards, as well as offering referrals to appropriate support services such as specialist counsellors and the ISVA (independent sexual violence advisor) service provided by Dorset Rape Crisis.

What happens during your time at The Shores is totally up to you and your support worker will talk you through your options when you arrive.

The team is able to:

  • explain the various options that may be available to help you make the right decision for your situation
  • provide emotional and practical support
  • help you get the best service according to your needs and assist with accessing these services, whether or not you want to take legal action
  • refer you to counselling services when and if you feel ready

Crisis support

This is the support offered by The Shores immediately following an assault. They offer twenty-four-hour access to crisis support, first aid, safeguarding and specialist clinical and forensic care in a secure environment.

If you have been a victim of sexual violence, you may be experiencing a wide range of emotions and reactions that can be very upsetting. This is quite normal for someone who has been through such a traumatic experience. You may feel:

  • shock and numbness
  • shame and humiliation
  • distress
  • fear
  • anger
  • guilt and self- blame
  • helplessness

Although you have experienced a very traumatic event, it is very important that you give thought to the following considerations:

  • reporting to police
  • gathering evidence (forensic examination)
  • sexual health and pregnancy
  • criminal justice proceedings
  • psychological support

The Shores can offer the following services:

  • forensic medical examination by a specialist female or male doctor. This examination will be carried out as sympathetically as possible, and can be undertaken whether the police are involved or not
  • emergency Contraception and referral to sexual health services
  • support will be available from a dedicated support worker when you attend the centre
  • risk assessment of any potential future harm will be undertaken and if necessary a safety plan will be discussed to prevent ongoing danger. Staff at The Shores understand that many assaults are committed by someone known to the man or woman assaulted

If you come to The Shores without having contacted the police first, the doctor who sees you will take forensic samples, but only with your permission.

If you agree, they can give these samples to the police for forensic analysis without disclosing your identity.

The police will then store the samples until you have decided whether or not you would like to talk to them.

If the forensic analysis identifies evidence that is of particular interest to the police, they will let you know and give you details to help you with your decision.

Criminal justice support

The strength and bravery it takes to tell someone about your abuse is undeniable - The courage it takes to seek justice is simply immeasurable.

Too many abusers rely on the silence and fear of their victims to shield them from justice. They underestimate your power and strength.

The Government is committed to combating sexual offences, appalling crimes that devastate the lives of victims and their families and inspire fear in our communities.

Across Government they are working to improve the investigation and prosecution of sex offences and want to send a strong message to perpetrators of these cowardly and sickening crimes that they will not be tolerated.

By improving the standard of care, information and support available to you, more people like you will have the confidence to come forward to report crimes and most importantly, have the support to work with criminal justice professionals to bring perpetrators to justice.


The effects of sexual harassment, sexual abuse or rape on the victim can be devastating and long lasting. A traumatic event or exposure to long-term abuse can impact on your capability to lead a normal life - both emotionally and socially.

While the event itself or the memory of the event cannot be taken away, much of the suffering can be relieved with specialist help.

The Shores can support you to make sense of your situation, resolve problems and make changes to your life.

Support for young people

At The Shores, children and young people have access to a specially tailored service that is designed specifically to minimise distress and ensure that all support services are working together to meet the needs of child or young person.

When a child or young person is sexually assaulted or abused it can have a devastating impact on the family. Some find that the distress and anguish experienced by parents, siblings and loved-ones continues long after the child is safe and receiving support. Though you may feel helpless and despondent now, a happy and healthy lifestyle is achievable after abuse. It may not be the same again, but life can, and will get better with some specialist help and support.

Page last updated: 13 June 2019
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