What is Sexual Assault?

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault/rape is any type of sexual act occurring without the consent of one of the people involved. There are a variety of legal definitions of sexual offences.

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Any person of any age, class or background.

The assailant is often a known person such as a relative or partner, but they may also be a stranger or someone who very little is known about. The attack may happen indoors or outdoors. The assailant may break into the victim’s home, may be invited in, or may force the victim to enter their home. There may be more than one assailant.

Rape is when a male penetrates someone’s mouth, vagina or anus with his penis without their consent. It can only be committed by males as it involves a penis, but both males and females can be raped.

Consent means agreeing to a sexual activity of any kind. This means actually wanting to do something not just saying yes out of fear of the consequences of saying no.

No. The other person has to have a reasonable belief that you are consenting. So for example, if you are asleep, or very drunk, they couldn’t claim that they thought you were consenting. Contrary to popular myth (see the Myths section) many rape victims freeze rather than fight and scream. Nobody can assume that you will consent just because you are married, in a relationship or have had sex with them before, it is up to you whether you consent or not every single time.

As soon as someone’s mouth, vagina or anus has been penetrated by a penis without consent, that is rape, no matter how long for or whether the offender ejaculates or not. Penetration is to any degree.

The law considers that children under 13 cannot give their consent to any sexual activity, therefore, any penetration of the mouth, vagina or anus of a person under that age is automatically rape. The age at which children can legally consent to sexual activity is 16 so it is an offence to have sex with a child who is between the ages of 13 and 16 even if that child is willing to participate, although as there is the element of consent it is not rape. In some circumstances, for example, a teacher/pupil relationship or other position of trust is unlawful to have sex with someone under 18.

Sexual Assault is when another person penetrates the anus or vagina with an object (such as a vibrator) or fingers without consent. Sexual Assault also includes being touched in a sexual way without consent. Sexual Assault can be carried out by a male or female to a male or female.

Sexual exploitation, prostitution and possessing or making indecent images are all offences included in the Sexual Offences Act.

It is also an offence for adults to encourage or force children into sexual acts including exposing them to sexual acts or pornography. Essentially if someone does something to you against your will in a sexual way it is likely to be an offence.