Homepage > The Truth About Sexual Violence

1. Sexual violence is usually committed by someone known to the survivor

One in 10 of rapes are committed by 'strangers'. The rest are committed by someone they know – such as a friend, neighbour, colleague, partner, ex-partner or family member. Sexual violence can take place anywhere but usually takes place within the home or somewhere else familiar to that person (like their place of work or at a friend’s house).

2. Sexual assaults are acts of violence for which the perpetrator alone is responsible

Rape and sexual assault are acts of control that stem from a person’s determination to exercise power over another. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, class, disability, culture, sexual orientation, race or faith. No one is ‘asking’ to be raped or sexually assaulted and no one is to blame in any way if they experience sexual violence.

3. No always means no

No always means no. Sexual activity without consent is a sexual assault or rape. Consent can be shown or given in different ways. It can be expressed, through a statement that a person wishes to engage in sexual activity or implied by conduct, through something a person said or did at the time.

4. People have the right to drink alcohol without getting assaulted

Just because a person is drunk or has taken drugs does not mean that they are willing to engage in sexual activity. If someone is unable to give consent because they are drunk, drugged or unconscious, it is sexual assault or rape.

5. It doesn't matter what a woman is wearing or how she is behaving

Wearing revealing clothes or flirting does not mean a woman must want to engage in sexual activity or is 'asking for it'.

6. You can be raped or sexually assaulted by a current or former partner

Having previously had sex with a person or being in a relationship with them does not mean that consent is given to all or any sexual activity. Consent must be given every time people engage in sexual contact. Legally a person can choose to engage in different forms of sexual activity at different times and change their mind about sexual activity at any point. The partner or former partner must respect that.

7. It's normal to display signs similar to sexual arousal during an assault

People can respond to any stimulation and display signs similar to arousal, even when it is non-consensual, traumatic or painful, but it does not mean that the sexual activity was consensual.

8. It's normal to not fight back

Many women do not struggle or fight back. To freeze and not saying anything at all is a normal response to trauma.

9. A person may not report sexual assault immediately

The majority of people who experience sexual violence will never report. A person may not choose to report sexual violence for many different reasons, for example, they may think they will not be believed or they may fear repercussions. If a person does not report immediately, it does not mean that they cannot do so at any time in the future. Delay in reporting sexual violence should not affect how the person reporting it is responded to by either the police or Crown Prosecution Service.

10. People who have experienced sexual violence behave in different ways

Some people may cry, others may be angry or some may withdraw. Some want to talk to their friends and family and others are embarrassed or too distressed. There is no typical way of behaving following a sexual assault or rape.

11. When someone says they have been sexually assaulted, they are telling the truth

Between January 2011 and May 2012, the Crown Prosecution Service examined rape allegations. There were 5,651 prosecutions for rape and only 35 prosecutions for making a false allegation of rape. Even if the Crown Prosecution Service decide not to take a case to court, or the jury do not find the defendant guilty, this does not mean that the allegation was false.

12. People involved in sex work can be raped or sexually assaulted

If someone engages in sexual activity without consent an offence has been committed. If someone has paid for sexual activity this does not mean that the person involved  has consented to it. The law on consent applies in exactly the same way. No one can assume consent and everyone has the right to choose what sexual activity they want to engage in and with whom, and can change their mind at any time.