Accessibility help
Hide this site

Rape and sexual assault

What is rape?

If a man forces you to have penetrative sex, or has sex with you without your consent or agreement, that’s rape. Rape includes penetration with his penis of the vagina, anus or mouth without consent.

Whatever the circumstances, nobody has the right to force you to have sex or have sex with you without your consent. If this happens to you, it’s important to remember it’s not your fault.

Both men and women can be raped but only men can commit rape.

If someone (male or female) sexually assaults you by penetrating you with another part of their body or another object, this is classed as ‘assault by penetration’ but will be treated similarly to rape if taken to court.

What is sexual assault?

If someone intentionally grabs or touches you in a sexual way that you don't like, or you’re forced to kiss someone or do something else sexual against your will, that’s sexual assault.

This includes sexual touching of any part of someone’s body, and it makes no difference whether you’re wearing clothes or not.

Anyone can be sexually assaulted and both men and women can commit sexual assault.

What is consent?

Consent can never be assumed, even in a relationship or marriage. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing at the time, or how you were behaving — 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 allowed to change your mind — 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 are doing is sexual assault or rape.

The age of consent in the UK is 16 and a child under the age of 13 cannot legally consent to any sexual activity.

Rape statistics in England and Wales

In the last year there were 121,113 sexual offences committed in England and Wales, of which 41,150 were rape (ONS Crime Survey for England and Wales, year ending March 2017).

The number of rape cases recorded by the police has risen by 15% compared with the previous year (year ending March 2016).

One in five women in England and Wales has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16 (ONS Crime Survey for England and Wales, January 2013) and women are nearly five times as likely to have experienced sexual assault as men (ONS Crime Survey for England and Wales, year ending March 2016).

Rape in context

The effects of rape and sexual assault

How we can help

Reporting rape and sexual assault

Surviving rape and sexual assault

Related links

  • Possible health issues

    It’s important that you consider getting medical help as soon as possible after a rape or sexual assault.

  • Domestic abuse

    Domestic abuse describes negative behaviours that one person exhibits over another within families or relationships.

back
to top

back
to top