What is Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence is any unwanted, non-consensual or age-inappropriate sexual contact or act that makes a person feel upset, scared or ashamed. It can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone. It is often carried out by strangers or people you don’t know. It can take many forms, from a man staring at your body, to sending messages with sexual content or a woman forcing you into an intimate relationship.
There are many reasons why someone might want to commit sexual violence. Some perpetrators may be motivated by fear, anger or a desire to control or abuse you. Others may be driven by a belief that it is right or that they have the power to do so. In some cultures, traditional constructs of masculinity and subjugation of women may contribute to this type of behaviour.
Everyone reacts differently to sexual assault. Survivors of sexual violence can experience emotions such as guilt, shame, fear, numbness and shock. They may also develop depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Those who have experienced sexual violence may not feel they can talk about it to anyone. They might also have feelings of embarrassment or self-blame and are at risk of being ostracised from their friends and family. They may have difficulties with their job and relationships.
They may not be able to access medical care and social support because they don’t have a social network or financial resources. They might have a hard time returning to work or school, and they may need support to regain a sense of normalcy.
Some of these effects are short-term while others may be long-lasting. Survivors may also have physical impacts, such as injuries or concerns about pregnancy or the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
It is important for all victims of sexual violence to be aware that it is not their fault. It is not their fault that they were assaulted, or that they did not tell anyone. It is not their fault that they were not wearing the right clothes or were drinking or taking drugs at the time of the crime.
The law considers it a rape when someone forces another person into sexual activity without their consent. This is a serious crime and should not be ignored.
According to RAINN, 9 out of every 10 rape victims are female. It is often in or near their home that these crimes occur.
Assault by penetration is defined in the UK as sexual touching of another person’s vagina or anus, with any part of their body other than their penis, or with anything else that has been used to touch them, without their consent. It is often a way for perpetrators to gain access to their victim’s personal information or possessions, and can be very dangerous.
It is important to be aware of the different types of sexual violence so you can report it to someone. Some types of sexual violence are more likely to be reported than others. It is also important to understand that different types of sexual violence can be very similar, even though they might be referred to as different things. This can make it difficult to know whether something is actually a sexual assault.