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defintions of sexual assault

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According to UK law rape is defined as sex without consent. Remember, however, that the law is still very limited in its understanding and definition of rape. For example some places still do not recognise rape in marriage as a crime, but this does not mean it doesn't exist. The following is a definition of rape that is based on the experiences of actual survivors:

  • Rape is any unwanted sexual act that takes place without the explicit and freely given consent of one of the people involved.. This includes any form of penetration and oral sex - both oral sex that was done to you or that you had to do to someone else.
  • Assault by penetration (by objects/fingers etc) is rape. This has yet to be recognised by UK law but this does not make it any less true. Remember it took years of campaigning for rape in marriage to be made a crime but that did not mean it was not happening or real - the law is limited and does not represent women's experiences.
  • Rape is rape regardless of relationship - rape in marriage has been a crime for over ten years in the UK now.
  • There is no such things as a 'rapeable offense' - being drunk/dressed in a certain way/doing a certain job/being intimate with a person/alone with a person/having slept with them before does not make rape inevitable or acceptable.
  • There are no circumstances where a woman loses her right to her body.
  • Continuing a relationship with someone after they have raped you does not change the fact that a person has been raped. Women have many reasons for staying/returning - none of them can unmake a rape.
  • Any unwanted sexual contact is sexual assault
  • Consent must be freely given without coercion or deception.
    Consent cannot be given when a person is underage, drunk, drugged or asleep. A person must have the freedom to make a choice
  • Consent cannot be assumed - silence is not consent - no answer does not mean yes. Consent means making an active decision to say yes, an assumption of consent is not enough.
  • Submission is not consent - giving into verbal/physical pressure or coercion is not the same as consenting freely to a sexual act. A person is entitled to withdraw their consent at any stage of a sexual act. If someone wants to stop and the other person does not stop it is rape.
  • Consenting to one type of sexual intimacy does not mean consent to any type of sexual intimacy. Just because a person has agreed to something does not mean they have agreed to everything.
  • Consent is a verbal process - if someone is not sure if someone is consenting or not they should ask. If a person can not get an answer they should stop.
  • Giving consent is active not passive, it means freely choosing to say yes.
  • Also known as indecent assault - includes any unwanted touching of the breasts and genitals and any other form of unwanted sexual contact.
  • Child abuse is when a child suffers harm or even death because of physical cruelty, emotional cruelty, sexual abuse or neglect by an adult. Often the adult is a parent or someone whom the child knows and trusts. In many cases, the child may be subjected to a combination of different kinds of abuse: for example, neglect and physical abuse. (http://www.nspcc.org.uk/html/home/whatwedo/whatischildabuse.htm
  • Sexual abuse may include sexual touching, masturbation, intercourse, indecent exposure, use of children in or showing children pornographic films or pictures, encouraging or forcing children into prostitution or encouraging or forcing children to witness sexual acts. Children and young people of all ages can be victims of abuse.
  • Sexual abuse is not limited to children - it does not cease to exist just because a person has turned 18 and can also exist between adults. Sexual abuse by a partner/intimate can include derogatory name calling, refusal to use contraception, deliberately causing physical pain during sex, deliberately passing on sexual infections and using objects/toys/or other items (e.g. baby oil or lubricants) without consent and to cause pain or humiliation
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