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 by a complete stranger or by someone known and even trusted such as a friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner. The document Sex without Consent is Rape, Did You Know 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 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) and why so many victims never tell anyone about what has happened in the first place. To understand why this we need to look at the myths that surround rape and serious sexual assaults.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, so that preventing rape becomes the responsibility of the victim. This was illustrated 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 we know that the majority of rapes actually involve someone known to the victim, most often their current or former partner, and take 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 (be that heterosexual or 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 Help and support guidance document which provides contact details to a number of organisations, that offer help and support. 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.
- You do not have to call the police, but if you do want to call 101 ask to speak to a specially trained officer. 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.
- If you are not sure if you do want to report the assault to the police you can still go to Treetops Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) by telephoning 0300 123 6616 where 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.
- If you are not sure what you want to do, then you could phone the Island’s Independent Sexual Violence adviser on 07376 083950 who will be able to provide support and advice.
- Yellow Door (Formerly Southampton Rape Crisis) offers a counselling service to victims from the Isle of Wight. Helpline: 02380 636312.
Alcohol is no excuse
Alcohol can often be a factor in cases of domestic abuse and during popular events where there is always frequent opportunity for people to drink alcohol. When people are drunk arguments and fights can escalate quickly, especially when emotions run high. Alcohol is never an excuse, find out how you can get help with your drinking by visiting the inclusion.org
website providing advice on Island drug, alcohol & psychological therapy services 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 provide clear information about sexual consent.
ISVA Service (Independent Sexual Violence Advisor)
An ISVA is an Independent Sexual Violence Advocate, who offers 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:
- Sexual Assault and Referral Centre (SARC) at Treetops - details provided on this web page.
- Police, if you choose to report
- Sexual health clinic
- Housing office
An ISVA will only provide the support you choose. The role is not to tell you what to do, but helping you make informed choices. If you would like further information, please email: email@example.com
FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) Resource Pack
FGM Guidance from Karen Bradley MP and the Home Office was updated in May 2016. The link below will take you to the new FGM Resource Pack homepage, which contains FGM guidance, case studies and support materials for local authorities, professional services and specialist voluntary organisations. Access the Female genital mutilation: resource pack provided on the GOV.UK website.