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Types of abuse

Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2024

Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week is a national campaign aimed to raise awareness of sexual violence, highlight specialist support and to stand in solidarity with so many people who have experienced it.

The aim of the week is to encourage victims of sexual abuse and violence to speak out, promote services that support survivors of sexual abuse and share ways to prevent sexual assault.

    If you've been sexually assaulted it's important to remember that it was not your fault. Sexual violence is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens. Please don't be afraid to get help. 

    What is sexual assault?  +

    A sexual assault is any sexual act that a person did not consent to, or is forced into against their will. It is a form of sexual violence and includes rape (an assault involving penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth), or other sexual offences, such as groping, forced kissing, child sexual abuse, or the torture of a person in a sexual manner.

    Sexual violence or assault can happen to anyone of any age.

    Consent  +

    Giving sexual consent means you agree to be involved in or take part in any kind of sexual activity. And you have the freedom and capacity to make that decision. This means you’re not forced, coerced, tricked or scared into giving consent.

    Consent can never be assumed, even in a relationship or marriage. Sex without your consent is rape.

    You may not be able to give your consent if you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, didn’t understand what was happening or were asleep. If you don’t have the capacity to give your consent, it cannot be assumed.

    You’re also allowed to change your mind at any point. If at first you wanted to have sex but then decided against it, that’s OK and no one has the right to force you to continue. If they don’t stop, then what they’re doing is sexual assault or rape.

    Check out - Myths vs facts | Rape Crisis England & Wales

    EASY READ -   Consent in Relationships Booklet (peoplefirstmerseyside.co.uk)

    Sexual assault is a crime  +

    It is not uncommon for the person being sexually assaulted to have no physical injuries or signs of their assault. But sexual assault is still a crime and can be reported to the police in the same way as other crimes.

    The Crime Survey for England and Wales for the year ending March 2021 showed that the police recorded 148,114 sexual offences, encompassing rape (55,696 cases) and sexual assault, and also sexual activity with children.

    Most sexual assaults are carried out by someone known to the victim. This could be a partner, former partner, relative, friend or colleague. The assault may happen in many places, but is usually in the victim's home or the home of the perpetrator (the person carrying out the assault).

    There are services that can help if you've been sexually assaulted, raped or abused. You don't have to report the assault to the police if you don't want to. You may need time to think about what has happened to you.

    However, consider getting medical help as soon as possible for any injuries and because you may be at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you want the crime to be investigated, the sooner a forensic medical examination takes place, the better.

    Try not to wash or change your clothes immediately after a sexual assault. This may destroy forensic evidence that could be important if you decide to report the assault to the police.

    Services who can offer you support following a sexual assault/sexual violence  +

    Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) offer medical, practical and emotional support to anyone who has been raped, sexually assaulted or abused. SARCs have specially trained doctors, nurses and support workers to care for you.

    You can get help from a SARC by booking an appointment with your nearest one.

    Other places you can get help include:

    Reporting an assault to the Police  +

    If you do decide to report it to the police, a police officer specially trained in supporting victims of sexual assault will talk to you and help to make sure you understand what's going on at each stage.

    The police will investigate the assault. You will be offered a forensic medical examination and will be asked to make a statement about what happened (what you say is written down, which you check and sign). The police will pass their findings, including the forensic report, to the Crown Prosecution Service, who will decide whether the case should go to trial.

    To find out more about what's involved in an investigation and trial, you can: 

    How to support a victim of sexual assault  +

    Advice for relatives and friends of someone who has been sexually assaulted includes: 

    • Believe what they're saying and tell them this.
    • Listen to the person, but don't ask for details of the assault. Don't ask them why they didn't stop it. This can make them feel as though you blame them.
    • Offer practical support, such as asking them if they would like you to go with them to appointments.
    • Respect their decisions – for example, whether or not they want to report the assault to the police.
    • Bear in mind they might not want to be touched. Even a hug might upset them, so ask first. If you're in a sexual relationship with them, be aware that sex might be frightening, and don't put pressure on them to have sex.
    • Don't tell them to forget about the assault. It will take time for them to deal with their feelings and emotions. You can help by listening and being patient.

    What to do if you're worried about a child  +

    If you're worried about a child, it's important you talk to a professional who can make sure they are safe. Who you speak to will depend on the situation.

    A young person might talk to a trusted teacher who would refer to something called the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) if needed.

    You can also talk to someone from the MASH, or a social worker or the police if you prefer. You don't have to give your name.

    You can find out details of the local Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) by clicking the link here - Report a Concern (sefton.gov.uk) or call 0345 140 0845.

    Further Information 

    RASA Merseyside - Info Booklets

    Independent Sexual Violence Advisor -  Information Sheet.docx (live.com)

    EASY READ - Sexual Relationships Booklet (peoplefirstmerseyside.co.uk)

    Information has been taken from Help after rape and sexual assault - NHS (www.nhs.uk)


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