Rape & Sexual Assault

What constitutes rape / sexual assault?

A sexual assault is any sexual act that a person did not consent to, or is forced into against their will. People of all gender identities and sexual orientations can be victims of sexual assault, and perpetrators are not just strangers – they can be friends, family members or partners.

 

What does it look like?

If someone intentionally grabs or touches you in a sexual way that you do not like, or you’re forced to kiss someone or do something else sexual against your will, this is classed as sexual assault. This includes sexual touching of any part of someone’s body, and it makes no difference whether you are clothed or not.

 

If you are forced to have penetrative sex with someone (either vaginally, anally or orally), or someone has sex with you without your consent or agreement, this is rape.

 

Here are some concrete examples of sexual assault from the Rights of Women publication From Report to Court: a handbook for adult survivors of sexual violence

  • Where a man touches his girlfriend’s breast for his sexual gratification without her consent and he did not reasonably believe that she consented.
  • Where a man forces a woman to masturbate him without her consent and he did not reasonably believe that she consented.
  • Where a man kisses a colleague at an office party where he did not consent to the kissing and the defendant did not reasonably believe that he consented.
  • Where a man strokes a woman’s hair for his sexual gratification without her consent and he did not reasonably believe that she consented.

 

What is consent?

Not sure what constitutes sexual consent? Watch this short video which explains it clearly and simply.

 

 

 Further information

The NHS website has very clear information about what sexual assault is, and where to get help.

The Crown Prosecution Service has launched a social media campaign in partnership with NUS  to get people talking about consent to sex within the context of sexual assault and rape, with a '#ConsentIs' guide to help people understand consent. 

There is a help sheet available from the NTU Wellbeing self-help website providing more information about the effects of rape and sexual assault 

 

 

If you know someone who has been raped or sexual assaulted

The NHS offers advice on how to support a victim of sexual assault here. It includes things such as not judging or blaming them, listening and offering practical support.

You can report incidents that you have witnessed to the police. Be prepared to make a formal statement as part of this reporting. You can also make an anonymous report of concerns to help the police with their intelligence in relation to sexual offences in Nottinghamshire by calling 101.

For relatives and friends of someone who has been sexually assaulted, The Havens website has advice on what you can do to help. The advice includes: 

  • Don’t judge them, don’t blame them. A sexual assault is never the fault of the person who is abused.
  • Listen to the person, but don’t ask for details of the assault. Don’t ask them why they didn’t stop it. This can make them feel as though you blame them.
  • Offer practical support, such as going with them to appointments.
  • Respect their decisions – for example, whether or not they want to report the assault to the police.
  • Bear in mind they might not want to be touched. Even a hug might upset them, so ask first. If you’re in a sexual relationship with them, be aware that sex might be frightening, and don’t put pressure on them to have sex.
  • Don’t tell them to forget about the assault. It will take time for them to deal with their feelings and emotions. You can help by listening and being patient.

 

If you have been sexually assaulted, find out what to do next and how to get support.