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How Do I Know If I’ve Been A Victim Of Sexual Assault

Sometimes when we have fallen victim to sexual assault it can be difficult or confusing to understand if what we think has happened was something we consented to. Often due to the blame and shame culture around sexual assault – admitting what has happened to us becomes even more difficult. Here are some important points surrounding sexual assault and when to contact a sexual offence solicitor. There is triggering and explicit language in this post, so it is recommended thinking of how you are feeling before continuing to read.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any sexual act that a person has not consented to, or is forced against their will to perform. Sexual assault is a form of sexual violence and specifically rape. It is worth noting that other acts included in sexual assault are forced kissing, child sexual abuse, or any torture of a person in a sexual manner.

Also note that sexual violence or assault can happen to a person of any age, gender, religion or ethnicity.

What is consent?

Not giving consent means that a person did not agree to the sexual act a person performed on them, or that they did not willingly agree to performing a sexual act on someone else. In order for consent to have happened the person involved has to say ‘yes’ to the act happening either to them or to the act they are performing on someone else.

It’s important that we all understand that if you do not ask, consent is not given. If you say nothing, consent is not given. If you are intoxicated consent is not given. If you are in a relationship with the other party in question this does not automatically give consent. If you are married to the other party in question this does not automatically mean consent is given.

Is sexual assault a crime?

We often see in crimes of sexual assault that the victim does not have any physical injuries, but regardless we want to be very clear that sexual assault is a crime. We have listed acts that can be sexual assault: kissing, attempted rape, touching someone’s private areas – which does include clothes, touching any part of someone’s body for any type of sexual enjoyment – for example, caressing someone’s leg or stroking their neck, pressing or pushing up against another body for sexual fulfillment. Pushing, coercing or intimidating someone into engaging in a sexual act on the accused, touching someone’s clothing if done for sexual enjoyment or in a sexual manner – for example, if you were to lift someone’s dress.

What do I do if I have been a victim?

First contact the police, if you are in immediate danger dial 999. If you need to speak to someone, call 101 or visit your local police station. Then you need to contact a sexual offence solicitor to help support you through any court proceedings you may need to go through. Also contact charities including Rape Crisis, The Survivors Trust, Refuge, Safe Line, or for child-specific services the NSPCC.

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