WHAT IS SEXUAL ASSAULT / RAPE?

 

Any unwanted sexual contact or activity carried out without consent is considered sexual violence. Sexual violence can take the form of but is not limited to rape, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and trafficking.

 

It is important to remember that sexual violence is never the fault of the survivor but only the perpetrator, and can happen to anyone. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 legally defines rape in the UK as the penetration with a penis of the vagina, anus or mouth of another person without their consent.

 

Sexual assault is described as a person intentionally touching another person, where the touching is sexual and the person does not consent. Serious sexual assault is defined as a person committing assault by penetration if they intentionally penetrate the vagina or anus of another person with a part of the body or anything else, without their consent.

 

Many myths surrounding sexual violence, sexual assault, sexual abuse and rape exist and contribute to those affected often not wanting to report this crime, or feeling confused as to whether they have been a victim or not.

Some of these myths include the belief that victims whom are women are most likely to be attacked outside of the home, late at night and if they are wearing ‘provocative’ clothing. This is untrue with 90% of rapes being committed against women by men they know or have even trusted or loved. Other myths include the belief that only young or ‘attractive’ women become victims. This is untrue; people, and especially women, of all ages, cultures, races, religions and body types can be survivors of rape. There are myths that surround the idea that someone who has drunk alcohol or taken drugs cannot report rape and that this behavior means they will not be believed or that they in fact ‘asked for it’. There are also misconceptions that women often lie about rape when regretting a sexual encounter, or that men are unable to control themselves sexually once aroused. However, the reality is that rape or sexual assault is never the fault of the victim, no matter what they were doing at the time of the attack, what they were wearing or how much they had had to drink. False allegations of rape are incredibly rare with the opposite being true that many survivors of rape do not report this crime for fear of not being believed, and it is also true that men can quite easily control their urges to have sex, even if asked to stop, after becoming aroused.

 

Rape and other forms of sexual violence can take place within relationships and within marriage. If a survivor has consented to sex or sexual contact with the perpetrator on a previous occasion, but in the instance of the attack did not consent, than this is a crime of sexual violence and is not the fault of the victim. If a survivor engages in sexual contact with a perpetrator willingly and then decides to change their mind about continuing, they have a perfect right to withdraw consent and failure to stop on the behalf of the perpetrator is a crime of sexual violence.

 

CONSENT

 

Whether or not a crime of sexual violence has taken place is primarily dependant on consent. Section 74 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 defines consent as follows:

 

'A person consents if they agree by choice, and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice'.

 

This section refers to a person's capacity to make a choice. A person might not have sufficient capacity because of their age or because of a mental disorder. The amount someone has had to drink can also affect a person's ability to consent. Saying ‘yes’ because you are made to feel scared or at risk is not consent. Nor are you able to give consent if you are asleep, unconscious or incapacitated due to the use of alcohol or drugs, whether you took the alcohol or drugs yourself or were given it. To consent one has to have the freedom and capacity to do so. Being afraid, ‘freezing’ or not being able to call for help or say ‘no’ through fear does not mean you gave consent.

 

At Outskirts we believe that the effects of such violence on a survivor, whether a one off attack or as part of a series of attacks or an ongoing relationship, can be devastating and long lasting. We believe survivors of rape, sexual assault or childhood sexual abuse deserve not only the justice of the perpetrator being subject to the consequences of committing such a crime, but also to live in a society where as a survivor the common message received is that you did nothing wrong and that you deserve understanding, support and ongoing safety.

 

At Outskirts we strive to provide services that support those survivors in the aftermath therapeutically, practically and politically to work toward personal and social change. However, if you have been a victim of sexual violence and are in a crisis situation then please see our helpful links page  to contact the right support and advice.

 

 

In the case of an emergency or where you feel at risk please dial 999.

 

 

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WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?                                                                                       WHAT IS SEXUAL ASSUALT / RAPE?

WHAT IS ART THERAPY?                                                                                                     WHAT IS DISCRIMINATION?

WHAT IS A FEMINIST APPROACH?                                                                                    WHAT IS CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING?

 

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