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Rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment

When someone calls you insulting sexual names, talks about you in a sexual way that makes you feel uncomfortable (like commenting on your body), or spreads sexual rumours about you, this is known as sexual harassment. This could happen in person, over the phone, or online.

If someone intentionally grabs or touches you in a sexual way that you do not like, or you’re forced to kiss someone or do something else sexual against your will, this is classed as sexual assault. This includes sexual touching of any part of someone’s body, and it makes no difference whether you are clothed or not.

If you are forced to have penetrative sex with someone, or someone has sex with you without your consent or agreement, this is rape.

Frequently asked questions

Was it my fault?

​​Whatever the circumstances, nobody has the right to force you to have sex, have sex with you without your consent, or sexually assault or harass you. If this happens to you, it is not your fault. However, many people worry about reporting rape and sexual assault to the police because they:

  • had been drinking alcohol or taking drugs at the time
  • are in a relationship with or know the person who attacked them
  • have had a sexual relationship with that person before
  • had been kissing or touching that person before the attack
  • were with someone of the same sex (gay or lesbian relationship)
  • didn’t say ‘no’ or didn’t fight back
  • can’t really remember it properly.

No matter what happened, the police will take it very seriously, and there are lots of organisations, like Victim Support, who can help you think about what you can do next.

This happened a long time ago, is there anything I can do?

Some survivors of sexual assault and rape take many years to acknowledge that they’ve been a victim and find it hard to take steps to get help. But it’s never too late. We can find the best person to support you, depending on what you decide you want to do. If you want to report the crime to the police, this is still a possibility. Even if you got support at the time, you can still get more support now, as there may be things that happen which still scare you or worry you.

Can this happen to a man?

Yes, men can be sexually harassed, assaulted or raped. This could happen to gay or straight men, and is not related to your sexuality. You can be sexually assaulted by a male or a female. It’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean you are weak. Often men feel like they should be able to stop it because they are male, however the shock and level of violence or threat of violence means that stopping a sexual assault or rape is extremely difficult. Sexual assault and rape is about the abuse of power. It is never your fault and the police will take it seriously.

How we can help

Confidentiality

Get in touch: we can help

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.

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