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What is sexual violence?


Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. There are many different kinds, including: rape, sexual abuse (including in childhood), sexual assault, sexual harassment, forced marriage, so-called honour-based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), trafficking, sexual exploitation (including child sexual exploitation), and others. 


Sexual violence can be perpetrated by a stranger, or by someone known and even trusted, like a friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner. Sexual violence can happen to anyone. No-one ever deserves or asks for it to happen.

100% of the responsibility for sexual violence lies with its perpetrator(s). There is no excuse for sexual violence; it can never be justified or explained away.


If you have been raped or been through any kind of sexual violence, no matter how long ago, where you were, what you were doing, wearing, or saying, whether you were drunk or had taken drugs, it was not your fault and you did not deserve this.



Sexual consent


Sexual violence is any sexual activity that takes place without someone’s consent. If someone consents to sex, it means they agree by choice, and also that they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.


Sexual activity without consent is sexual violence.

  • If someone says "no" to any type of sexual activity, they do not consent.

  • But if someone doesn't say “no” out loud, that doesn’t automatically mean that they have consented to sex.

  • If someone seems unsure, stays quiet, moves away or doesn’t respond – this is not consent. Many people who have experienced sexual violence find that they were unable to move or speak - this is a common reaction.

  • If someone is asleep, unconscious, drunk or drugged, they cannot consent to sexual activity.

  • If someone is threatened, bullied, pressured or manipulated into saying yes, this is not consent.

  • If someone's not sure whether you are giving your consent for something sexual, they should check with you.

  • If they can see or suspect you're not 100% comfortable or happy with what's happening between you, they should stop.

Sexual activity without consent is sexual violence.

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