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What is sexual assault/rape?

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 is an act that is carried out without consent.

I didn’t realise at first that what happened to me was an assault. I knew it felt wrong, I knew I didn’t want it to happen but I hadn’t realised that it was against the law to pressure me into sexual activity I didn’t want to do.

Examples of not consenting include;

  • Saying ‘no’ but this is not respected/listened to
  • Anyone under the age of 13 cannot legally consent
  • Incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol
  • Being pressured into sexual activity by fear or intimidation
  • 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 important you know that 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.

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