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Sexual violence and abuse: a definition

Sexual violence and abuse can be defined as any behaviour perceived to be of a sexual nature which is unwanted and takes place without consent or understanding.

What is rape or sexual assault?

Rape is when someone has penetrative sex with another person against their will. This includes vaginal, anal and oral penetration.

Sexual assault covers any other sort of sexual contact and behaviour that is unwanted, ranging from touching to any other activity if it is sexual.

Who are the victims?

Anyone can be a victim of rape or sexual assault, no matter what age they are and regardless of whether they are male or female.

Who commits rape and sexual assault?

Rapes and sexual assaults can be committed by someone the victim knows. That includes members of their family or an acquaintance.

Rapes and sexual assaults can also be committed by strangers.

You can also be raped or sexually assaulted by a partner - someone you are in a relationship with.

Drug and alcohol assisted rape/sexual assault

Rapes and sexual assaults can occur when someone is given alcohol and/or drugs without their knowledge so that they become confused and unaware about what is happening to them.

Alcohol and/or drugs can be added to a drink quite easily without the victim noticing, commonly known as being 'spiked'. The effect of this can cause memory loss, so the victim cannot remember exactly what happened.

Staying safe

To stay safe when you're out, never accept a drink from someone you've never met before. Always take your drink with you if you're going to the toilet or to make a telephone call; never leave it unattended.

Always drink alcohol responsibly and know your limits.