Sexual violence: the facts

Did you know?

  • 1 in 5 women in the UK have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16 (Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013)
  • 1 in 3 teenage girls in England has been pressured into doing something sexual by a partner (Safeguarding Teenage Intimate Relationships, 2015)
  • A third of female students in the UK have experienced inappropriate touching or groping at university (Telegraph study, 2015)
  • Approximately 90% of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence (Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013)

Myths about sexual violence
 
There are lots of myths and misinformation about violence and abuse. It is important for us all to challenge excuses for abusive behaviour whenever we hear them. We all need to get the truth out there and work together to bring an end to abuse.


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“Some women are just asking for it. If you dress a certain way you are putting yourself at risk.”

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Women have the right to wear whatever they like – they cannot be blamed for suffering a sexual assault, regardless of their appearance. Rape or sexual assault is never a woman’s fault. Assaulting a woman is a choice an abuser makes – it is against the law.

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“Women who get themselves too drunk
are asking for it.”

Deciding to drink too much does not mean that a woman has also decided to have sex. Men who go out to get drunk do not face similar judgments about their behaviour and rarely do women take advantage of them sexually. Remember: having sex with someone who is too intoxicated to give full consent is rape.

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“A rapist is someone
who jumps out from a dark alley.”

The majority of sexual assaults are carried out by someone a woman or girl knows and trusts, often in her own home. In approximately 90% of reported rapes, the victim knows their perpetrator prior to the incident.

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“It cannot be rape if the woman has already had consensual sex with the man.”

Consent must be gained each and every time someone engages in a sexual activity.

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“Girls might say no, but they really mean yes.”

If someone says no, or indicates through their actions that they don’t want to have sex, then they haven’t consented.

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“Women lie about being raped all the time.”

False rape allegations are very rare – less than 3% of reports are false. But almost 500,000 women are raped or sexually assaulted each year in England and Wales.

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“Sometimes a man just gets carried away and can’t stop.”

Everyone is responsible for their own behaviour. Respecting someone means never forcing them to engage in a sexual act against their wishes.


 

Understanding consent

 
When you are having sex, or doing something intimate with another person, it is important to be sure that they want to be doing it too – that they have consented. Even if you are in a relationship with someone it is important to make sure your partner agrees to any sexual act every time.

  • Consent is showing or verbally communicating a clear ‘yes’ to your partner. If you are not sure if someone is consenting, ask
  • To be able to consent, a person must have both the capacity to say yes and must understand what is happening and what they are agreeing to
  • The absence of “no” does not mean yes. Someone might have been pressured or frightened into doing something they do not want to – this means they have not consented
  • Everyone has the right to say no to any kind of sexual activity, or to change their mind at any time before or during sex
  • It’s also important to remember that there are some groups of people who cannot consent under law. If someone is not physically or mentally capable of making a decision to have sex – or they cannot understand what they are agreeing to – they cannot give consent. For example, if someone is very drunk or intoxicated when they agree to sex, the law recognises that they do not have the capacity to give ‘true’ consent
  • The age of consent in the UK is 16