What is sexual violence?

Sexual assault is a broad term which applies to many forms of sexual violence from unwanted kissing, touching (whether or not clothing is worn), to being forced/coerced into sexual acts. Being forced or coerced to do something means that consent cannot be given.

Rape is defined in law as non-consensual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth, by a penis.

Rape and sexual assault are acts which are carried out without consent.

Examples of not consenting include:

• Saying ‘no’ but this is not respected/listened to

• Freezing or become non-responsive

• Anyone under the age of 13 cannot legally consent

• Heavily under the influence of drugs or alcohol

• Being pressured into sexual activity by fear or intimidation (this doesn’t need to be physical)

• Being unconscious because of drugs or alcohol or if you are asleep

• Changing your mind after sexual activity has started but you are not listened to – everyone has the right to stop sexual activity at any time.

Rape and sexual assault are both serious crimes. Rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone irrespective of age, race, ethnicity, gender identity or class. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, it is not your fault. You are not to blame, and support is available.

It doesn’t matter what you were wearing.

It doesn’t matter if you had been drinking.

It doesn’t matter if you’d consented to sexual activity with them before.

It doesn’t matter where you were or what you were doing.

Sexual violence is never your fault. Responsibility always lies with the perpetrator of sexual violence.

Realising that what someone has done to you was wrong and a criminal offence can be incredibly hard to get your head around – this is something we can support you with. At your pace we can listen to how things have affected you and can help you find positive ways of coping with the aftermath. Sometimes people want to tell their loved ones what happened and are finding that hard, we can support you with this and we can offer a different worker to speak to your loved one if they need support too.

Find out more.

You are not alone | You are not to blame |  You have rights | You can get help

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