Our support line 01382 201 291
Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline (6pm-12am) 08088 01 03 02
Click here or press the Escape key to leave this site now

What is Sexual Violence?

Rape, Sexual Assault & Consent

Rape is one type of sexual violence. Sexual violence is the general term we use to describe any kind of unwanted sexual act or activity.

What is Rape?

Rape is defined as 'penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth of another person by the penis without consent'.

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is sexual violence that does not include rape. The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behaviour that occurs without explicit consent. Some forms of sexual assault include:

  • Attempted rape
  • Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body.

What is Consent?

In law, sexual consent is when we agree by choice, and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

It does NOT look like this:

  • Refusing to acknowledge “no” or acknowledge limits that have been set.
  • Assuming wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more.
  • Someone being under the legal age of consent, as defined by the law.
  • Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol.
  • Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation.
  • Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you have done it in the past.

What is Force?

Force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure. Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a person into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a person to comply, such as threatening to hurt them or their family. Sometimes they use other acts of intimidation, such as threatening to share intimate photographs, videos and post personal information online.

People of every age, race or religious background are raped or sexually assaulted. 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, you did not deserve this. The responsibility always lies with the attacker, not you.

Our statistics show that women are more often attacked by someone they know and trust. Rape and sexual assault can happen within a marriage or long-term relationship. Rape means that the act of sexual penetration was not consented to. No matter who the attacker was you did not deserve what has happened.

You can withdraw consent at any point if you feel uncomfortable and do not want to continue.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted it can leave you feeling scared, confused, angry and in pain. Talking to someone can help and there are lots of different ways to ask for support and to receive support.