Rape and Sexual Assault

Definition

Rape is a form of sexual violence involving the penetration of the vagina, mouth or anus using a penis performed without consent. To be able to consent, one must have both the freedom to consent (without, for example, pressure, coercion, threats or violence) and the capacity to consent (without, for example, excessive drink, drugs or a disability).

Sexual assaults are acts involving the “sexual touching of another without their consent”.

Sexual assault can be committed by both men and women against either a man or a woman. An offender is guilty of this offence if:

  • The offender intentionally touches the victim AND
  • The touching is sexual (see above) AND
  • The victim does not consent to the touching AND
  • The offender does not reasonably believe that the victim consents.

By definition, sexual assault is a non-consensual offence. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) must prove that the victim did not consent and the offender did not reasonably believe that she did.

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Law

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 15 strengthened the law to make sexual assault a crime. The Act extends the definition of rape to include the penetration by a penis of the vagina, anus or mouth of another person. The 2003 Act also updates the law about consent and belief in consent.

Statistics

Approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year.

Over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year.

1 in 5 women (aged 16 – 59) have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.

54 per cent of women victims of serious sexual assault were assaulted by their partner or ex-partner.
38% of young people have received a sexually explicit or distressing text or email (55% of these were sent via mobile phones) and 85% of these ‘sexts’ were sent by someone they knew.

12% of 11–16 year olds in the UK have seen or received sexual messages online.

Warning Signs

  • Nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
  • Seems distracted or distant at odd times
  • Refusal to eat / Loses or drastically increases appetite
  • Has trouble swallowing
  • Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
  • Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
  • Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
  • Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
  • Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
  • Talks about a new older friend
  • Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
  • Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
  • Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviours, language and knowledge

(taken from www.stopitnow.org)

Signs more typical of younger children

  • An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
  • Has new words for private body parts
  • Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting)
  • Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
  • Mimics adult-like sexual behaviours with toys or stuffed animal
  • Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

Signs more typical in adolescents

  • Self-injury (cutting, burning)
  • Inadequate personal hygiene
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Running away from home
  • Depression, anxiety
  • Suicide attempts
  • Fear of intimacy or closeness
  • Compulsive eating or dieting

Films 

Sex With Someone Who Doesn’t Want to is Rape

Zoe’s Story