The Haven: A Pilot Referral Centre in London for Cases of Serious Sexual Assault

BJOG. 2003 Mar;110(3):267-71.


Objective: Several schemes have been reported to improve treatment of rape and to encourage reporting. The development of a comprehensive forensic and follow up service for complainants of sexual assault is described, and activities of the first year are reviewed.

Design: Retrospective review of case records of complainants examined in The Haven.

Setting: Department of Sexual Health in a London teaching hospital.

Sample: All case records, 676 complainants, from the first year of cases seen in The Haven.

Methods: Description of setting up a service in partnership between the National Health Service and the Metropolitan Police, called The Haven. Analysis of a standardised proforma used for case records.

Results: Mean age of complainants is 26 years (range 11-66); 6% were male. Assailant was categorised as a stranger in 52% of cases; attack involved physical violence in 50% of cases; 24% of victims had genital injuries; 39% had other physical injuries. Immediate care given at time of forensic examination included 30% of women receiving emergency contraception and 5% of clients receiving post-exposure prophylaxis against HIV. Fifty-five percent of clients returned for a sexual health screen and/or counselling. Thirty-one percent received screening for sexually transmitted infections and 12% were diagnosed with one or more infections.

Conclusions: Requirements following sexual assault include forensic examination, first aid, postcoital contraception, prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections and psychosocial support. Provision of these services within a sexual health setting is feasible.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Rape / psychology
  • Rape / rehabilitation
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Counseling
  • Sex Offenses* / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Social Support