Rape or sexual assault is a serious crime. Find out more below about rape and sexual assault, what constitutes consent, and some of the common myths around rape, sexual assault and reporting these offences.

Rape and sexual assault

All rape and sexual assault is serious. The terms rape and 'sexual assault' are used simply to differentiate between two types of offence. So what's the difference?

Rape is when a person intentionally penetrates another's vagina, anus or mouth with a penis, without the other person's consent. Assault by penetration is when a person penetrates another person's vagina or anus with any part of the body other than a penis, or by using an object, without the persons consent.

The overall definition of sexual or indecent assault is an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation in the form of a sexual act, inflicted on someone without their consent. It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in any sexual acts.

Not all cases of sexual assault involve violence, cause physical injury or leave visible marks. Sexual assault can cause severe distress, emotional harm and injuries which can't be seen - all of which can take a long time to recover from. This is why we use the term 'assault', and treat reports just as seriously as those of violent, physical attacks.

Consent

What separates sex, or a gesture of affection, from sexual assault? It's a matter of consent. That is, both people agreeing to what's happening by choice, and having the freedom and ability to make that choice.

www.consentiseverything.com

Common myths about rape

It's widely thought that in most cases of rape, the offender is a stranger. The truth is the majority of people who commit rape know their victims and, in some cases, are relatives, friends or work colleagues.

Rape within marriage and relationships can also occur. Remember, sex is about consent. If your partner or husband has forced you into having sex with them, this is rape. We treat this as seriously as any other rape or sexual assault.

You are not to blame

Sometimes people are afraid to speak to the police because they were voluntarily taking drugs or drinking alcohol before the offence happened. Sometimes they have little or no recollection of what has happened. They may have a criminal record, and worry that the authorities won't treat them fairly. They might be worried that no one will believe them.

Remember, no matter who you are, how long ago the assault happened or what took place, our prime concern is to give you the support you need. We'll listen, understand and guide you through the investigation process at a pace you're comfortable with, whilst respecting your wishes.