Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. There are many different kinds of sexual violence, including but not restricted to:
- Sexual assault.
- Child sexual abuse.
- Sexual harassment.
- Rape within marriage / relationships.
- Forced marriage.
- So-called honour-based violence.
- Female genital mutilation (FGM).
- Sexual exploitation.
- Ritual abuse.
Sexual violence can be perpetrated (carried out) by a complete stranger or by someone known. These can be a trusted friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner. The document Sex without consent is rape a quick guide.pdf (iow.gov.uk) outlines some facts and statistics about rape.
There is a continuing belief in our society that women should be responsible for ‘protecting’ themselves from being raped or sexually assaulted. This belief in the victim’s culpability (fault) is partly to blame for the low numbers of cases that come to court for prosecution. Only 6% of reported rapes end in a conviction. It's why so many victims never tell anyone about what has happened in the first place. To understand why, we need to look at the myths that surround rape and serious sexualassaults. These myths include women being responsible for rape if:
- They are dressed in a certain way.
- Are out alone late at night.
- Are drunk.
- Have flirted with the perpetrator.
These myths allow victims to be criticised for sending out the ‘wrong message’, whilst excusing perpetrators for being ‘led on’. Perpetrators of rape are often presented as having no ability to control their actions or behaviour. This leads to preventing rape becoming the responsibility of the victim. This was illustrated in recent times by the treatment on social media of the footballer Ched Evans’ victim and the abuse that she has suffered for being drunk at the time of the rape.
There are further myths about who perpetrates rape, with a continuing belief that rapists are strangers who attack victims in dark alleys. Whereas it is known that the majority of rapes actually involve someone known to the victim. Most often their current or former partner, and it takes place within a domestic setting. Despite these facts marriage and long-term relationships are still seen as a ‘grey-area’. With the belief that you cannot ‘really’ be raped or sexually assaulted within a long term relationship. This happens in relationships that are heterosexual and homosexual.
The SafeDate website provides clear information on what is sexual consent.
- Sex is not a ‘right’ and you can say no at any point.
- If a woman or man hasn’t consented and you still have sex with them, it is rape.
- If you are not sure whether someone is too drunk to consent, assume consent is not given.
- Being drunk / on drugs yourself is not a defence for rape.
- Rape is never the victim’s fault.
- A conviction for rape means a prison sentence.
- Any form of unwanted sexual touching is a crime, whether or not it leads to rape, and the police will investigate every rape and sexual assault reported to them.
- Rape is a crime of basic intent where the offender has sex with someone who does not consent.
- Being drunk is no defence. If you are charged with rape you will have to go to court and give evidence in front of a jury. You could face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
- If you or someone is in immediate danger or at serious risk of harm, you are advised to call the police on 999.
We have created a document which provides contact details for a number of organisations, that offer help and support: Help and support guidance document.pdf (iow.gov.uk)
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted recently, the next step is to get help. Go to a safe place such as the home of a trusted friend or family member. Please note: If you get help immediately after the assault, try not to wash or change your clothes. This may destroy forensic evidence that could be important.
Your options are:
If you are not sure what you want to do, then phone the Island’s Independent Sexual Violence adviser on 07376 083950 who will be able to provide support and advice.
You do not have to call the police, but if you do want to tell the police call 101. Ask to speak to a specially trained officer.
If you are not sure if you do want to report the assault to the police you can contact the Treetops Sexual Assault Referral Centre by telephoning 0300 123 6616. You can visit the website for more information about this service: Treetops Sexual Assault Referral Centre - Support after Rape & Sexual Assault (solent.nhs.uk). The centre is in Portsmouth. If you visit the centre you can have a forensic and medical examination. They can store the forensic results until you make up your mind whether to report to the police or not.
Yellow Door (Formerly Southampton Rape Crisis) offers a counselling service to victims from the Isle of Wight. Telephone Helpline: 02380 636312.
Alcohol is no excuse
Alcohol can often be a factor in cases of domestic abuse. During popular events where there is always frequent opportunity for people to drink alcohol. When people are drunk arguments and fights can escalate, especially when emotions run high. Alcohol is never an excuse, find out how you can get help with your drinking by visiting NHS Inclusion.org . This website provides advice on Island drug, alcohol & psychological therapy services which are available.
Drinking alcohol can sometimes lead to sexual abuse where you can be pressured into sex or are so drunk that you cannot freely give consent. Drunk doesn’t mean yes! safedate.org.uk provides clear information about sexual consent.
ISVA Service (Independent Sexual Violence Advisor)
An ISVA is an Independent Sexual Violence Advocate. They offer confidential advice and support to both males and females who have been the victims of recent or historic sexual violence. This service is run by the Hampton Trust. ISVAs will give you the information you need to decide what it is you would like and need. For example:
- Practical advice on reporting to the police, the legal process and attending court.
- Refer you for counselling and other appropriate services.
- Help to co-ordinate different agencies, such as sexual health, mental health, substance misuse and housing.
- Liaise with the police for regular case updates, if you choose to report the sexual assault.
- Regular and ongoing telephone contact and/or face to face meetings and support.
If you wish, they can also go with you to the following:
An ISVA will only provide the support you choose. Their role is not to tell you what to do, but to help you make informed choices. If you would like further information on this service, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
TrustTalk2: counselling for children and young people who have experienced sexual abuse or violence
Barnardo’s TrustTalk2 Counselling service is funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner (hampshire-pcc.gov.uk). It has been established to provide therapeutic counselling to children and young people aged 0 to 19 years who have experienced sexual abuse or violence.
This service is available from Barnardo’s who work in partnership with the Paragon to deliver this service to children and young people on the Isle of Wight. Referrals can be made by professionals using the referral form.
If you are a parent/carer and feel that this service could support your child. If your a young person and you would like some support. You can make a self-referral by contacting Evie Parmar on mobile: 07584 395682.
FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) Resource Pack
FGM Guidance from Karen Bradley MP and the Home Office was updated in May 2016. Visit the Female genital mutilation: resource pack - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) to access FGM guidance. The guidance is for local authorities, professional services and specialist voluntary organisations.