Rape and Sexual Assault

What is sexual violence? 

Sexual violence is any form of sexual activity that takes place without the other person’s full and informed consent. This includes physical contact, words, or photographs.

Sexual violence can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, class, or background. Sexual violence is never the victim’s fault; the fault lies solely with the perpetrator and there are no excuses or justifications for this behaviour. 

Rape and sexual assault can be carried out by a stranger, but often the perpetrator is someone known to the victim such as a husband, boyfriend, friend, colleague or other family member. 

Although research shows that the majority of sexual violence is experienced by women and girls, both men and boys can also be victims.

Sexual violence can include:

  • Pressuring or forcing someone to do something sexual
  • Touching someone sexually without their permission
  • Watching a sexual act take place without permission
  • Engaging in sexual acts with someone who is too intoxicated to give consent
  • Engaging in a sexual act with someone who is asleep or unconscious
  • Having sex with someone who cannot legally consent – for example, a boy or girl under the age of 16, or someone with disability who does not have the capacity to understand the situation
  • Making someone watch or appear in pornography against their will
  • Preventing someone from using contraception