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Rape and Sexual Violence

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What is Sexual Violence?

A sexual assault is any sexual act that a person did not consent to, or is forced into against their will. It is a form of sexual violence and includes rape (an assault involving penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth), or other sexual offences, such as groping, forced kissing, child sexual abuse or the torture of a person in a sexual manner.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales for the year ending March 2018 showed that police recorded 150,732 sexual offences, encompassing rape (53,977 cases) and sexual assault, and also sexual activity with children.

Most sexual assaults are carried out by someone known to the victim. This could be a partner, former partner, relative, friend or colleague as well as by strangers and acquaintances. Sexual violence can happen regardless of sex, age, carer responsibility, class, disability, gender identity, immigration status, ethnicity, geography or religion. The assault may happen in many places, but is usually in the victim’s home or the home of the alleged perpetrator (the person carrying out the assault).

“Sexual consent is, by law, where someone agrees by choice to that sexual activity and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Someone may not have the freedom and capacity to consent if they are scared for their life or safety or for the life or safety of someone they care about, or if they are asleep or unconscious or incapacitated through alcohol or drugs.” Welsh Women’s Aid

Sexual Offences Act 2003 makes it a criminal offence if a person (A):

“(a)he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis,

“(b)B does not consent to the penetration, and

“(c)A does not reasonably believe that B consents.”

“Whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps A has taken to ascertain whether B consents.”

The legislation is clear, “A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life.”

The full legislation is available on the .gov website

Read the legisltation here

Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015

This Act differs from the approach taken in the definition of “associated persons” in section 58(2)(h) of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 and section 62(3)(a) of the Family Law Act 1996 (as inserted by section 4 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004). In those Acts, the intimate personal relationship must be of a “significant duration”. This is not the case under this Act. Section 24(2)(h) captures intimate personal relationships of any duration, to reflect that abuse may be present at the very early stages of an intimate personal relationship.  An intimate personal relationship may exist whether the persons are the same or the opposite sex.

Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014: provides a legal framework for improving the well-being of people who need care and support. This will include those experiencing VAWDASV. It also includes safeguarding legislation.

Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 outlines the collective role of the Public Service Boards (PSB). Statutory duties that can be discharged via a Wellbeing Plan, which can cover VAWDASV. A VAWDASV Strategy can meet the Statutory Duty and feed into the development of the local Wellbeing Plan.

Read the Act

New Pathways: Understanding Sexual Violence Training

Find the training here

There is a National Training Framework on VAWDASV which is made up of six groups of professionals all within Public Service.

  • Group 1 – general awareness (E-learning)
  • Group 2 – Ask and Act
  • Group 3 – Ask and Act Champions
  • Group 4 – Specialist sector
  • Group 5 – Managers of specialist sector
  • Group 6 – Public service leaders

Find more info here

The BBC have a series of Podcasts where Catriona Morton talks to fellow survivors of sexual assault and abuse about what happened to them and how they cope, called After: Surviving sexual assault.

Find the talks here

Useful Links

Live Fear Free helpline 

Galop: Sexual Violence Support Service for all LGBT+ people who have experienced sexual assault, violence or abuse.

Visit the site 

Survivors UK: Support for male rape and sexual abuse victims.

Visit the site 

Rape Crisis: Find a Rape Crisis Centre, get online emotional support or find information and self-help tools

Visit the site 

New Pathways: Rape crisis and sexual abuse support service including specialist counselling and advocacy services,

call on 01685 379 310.

Visit the site

Victim Support: Help and support for rape and sexual assault survivors.

Visit the site 

call on 08 08 16 89 111.

Consent to sexual activity may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another. Consent can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity and each time the activity occurs.

 

Anyone can be the victim of sexual violence. The perpetrator of sexual violence is always to blame. It does not matter what the victim is wearing, where they are, how much alcohol they have drunk or drugs they may have taken. If someone has not agreed to what has happened to them a crime has been committed.

In the year ending March 2017, the Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that 20% of women and 4% of men have experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16. 3.1% of women and 0.8% of men aged 16-59 had experienced a sexual assault in the last year. You can find more information on the Rape Crisis website

Visit the website

The most recent data is available from the Office of National Statistics

Read the most recent data


Help and Support

For victims, families and concerned people

Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) offer medical, practical and emotional support. They have specially trained doctors, nurses and support workers to care for you.

“If you have been sexually assaulted, whether as an adult or a young person, it is important to remember that it wasn’t your fault. Sexual violence is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens. Don’t be afraid to get help.” (NHS website)

If you are not ready to talk to the police, and if you are unsure about what you want to do, you can go to a SARC. At the SARC you can get advice, make a statement, have forensic samples taken, get medical support (including tests for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy) without having to report the matter to the police. The forensic evidence is stored at the SARC in case you want to report the rape to the police in the future. If you want to go to a SARC, you should try to go as soon as you can so important evidence can be preserved. 

You can also get help from an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) who can provide specialist advice and support.

The Live Fear Free Helpline is able to help and support those experiencing or know someone experiencing sexual violence. Call 0808 80 10 800 (24 hours, 7 days a week), or text 07860077333 or email info@livefearfreehelpline.wales 

Independent sexual violence advisors (ISVAs): ISVAs work with people who have experienced sexual violence to get them access to the services they need. They provide impartial advice on all the options available such as reporting to police, the criminal justice process, accessing sexual assault referral centres (SARCs), seeking support from specialist sexual violence organisations and other services such as housing or benefits.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) have set out a list of sexually violent acts that can take place in different circumstances and settings. These include, for example:

  • rape within marriage or dating relationships;
  • rape by strangers;
  • systematic rape during armed conflict;
  • unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment, including demanding sex in return for favours;
  • sexual abuse of mentally or physically disabled people;
  • sexual abuse of children (see child sexual exploitation);
  • forced marriage or cohabitation, including the marriage of children;
  • denial of the right to use contraception or to adopt other measures to protect against sexually transmitted diseases;
  • forced abortion;
  • violent acts against the sexual integrity of women, including female genital mutilation and obligatory inspections for virginity;
  • forced prostitution and trafficking of people for the purpose of sexual exploitation (see modern slavery and exploitation).

Welsh Women’s Aid states that Sexual violence can take many forms, it can include but is not limited to:

  • forcing or coercing someone into sexual activities against their will
  • using objects violently or in a non-consensual way during sex
  • forcing or coercing someone to have sex with another person when they do not wish to
  • sharing sexual stories or images about someone without their consent
  • forcing or coercing someone to perform sexual acts in front of others when they do not want to
  • forcing or coercing someone to mimic pornography
  • forcing or coercing someone to be photographed or filmed during sex/whilst sexual abuse is taking place
  • forcing or coercing someone to watch or look at pornography
  • calling someone sexual or derogatory names