Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. There are many different kinds of sexual violence, including but not restricted to: rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape within marriage / relationships, forced marriage, so-called honour-based violence, female genital mutilation, trafficking, sexual exploitation, and ritual abuse. Sexual violence can be perpetrated by a complete stranger, or by someone known and even trusted, such as a friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner. Sexual violence can happen to anyone. No-one ever deserves or asks for it to happen.
100% of the responsibility for any act of sexual violence lies with its perpetrator. There is no excuse for sexual violence – it can never be justified, it can never be explained away and there is no context in which it is valid, understandable or acceptable.
If you have been raped or experienced any other kind of sexual violence, no matter where you were, what you were doing, what you were wearing, what you were saying, if you were drunk or under the influence of drugs, it was not your fault and you did not deserve this.
Current legal definition of rape
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (the Act) came into force on the 1st May 2004. The purpose of the Act was to strengthen and modernise the law on sexual offences, whilst improving preventative measures and the protection of individuals from sexual offenders. 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.
The word 'consent' in the context of the offence of rape is now defined in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. A person consents if she or he agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. The essence of this definition is the agreement by choice. The law does not require the victim to have physically resisted in order to prove a lack of consent. The question of whether the victim consented is a matter for the jury to decide, although the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) considers this issue very carefully throughout the life of a case.
Current legal definition of sexual (indecent) assault
Sexual assault is an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation, in the form of a sexual act, which is inflicted on someone without consent. It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in any sexual acts, apart from penetration of the mouth with the penis, the penetration of the anus or vagina (however slight) with any object or the penis, which is rape.