rape & sexual assault
What is rape?
Rape is when a man or woman is forced to have sexual intercourse involving a penis, or does not or cannot freely agree to having sex involving a penis. This includes oral, vaginal or anal penetration.
It covers occasions when for whatever reason the individual is unable to give free agreement
- due to illness,
- being under the influence of drugs and or alcohol,
- mental incapacity,
Or any other condition that prevents him or her from giving free agreement at that time.
Free agreement to one type of sex does not automatically assume free agreement to another form of sex. Free agreement can be withdrawn at any time during a sexual act.
Any male or female can become a victim of rape no matter what their connection is with the person responsible. You can be raped or sexually assaulted by someone you are in a relationship with, it can be your husband, wife or partner.
Most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Only 6% of rapes are committed by strangers.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault covers any sort of sexual activity and behavior that is unwanted and can be committed against both males and females. This includes
- Forcing someone to be present during a sexual act against their will
- Looking at sexual images
- Communicating indecently with someone
- Touching someone sexually
- Touching someone sexually through clothing
- Touching someone with an implement in a sexual manner
- Ejaculating semen onto another person
- Emitting urine or saliva onto another person
What is drug rape?
Drugs can be added to a drink or some food without the victim noticing meaning that it is ‘spiked’. This can cause memory loss so that the victim cannot always remember exactly what has happened to them. Most drug traces disappear quickly from the body taking on average between 1 – 4 days although; cocaine and codeine can still be traced in the hair for up to 90 days. If you suspect you or someone you know has been drug raped it would be best to contact the police as soon as possible. Evidence of drug rape is however limited. Excessive alcohol consumption can be a contributory factor.
Drinking to excess can lead to individuals being exposed to risks that they normally would not allow themselves to be exposed to. It is important that individuals drink responsibly to avoid being placed in risky situations. To stay safe when you are out, never leave your drink unattended. Take it with you even if you are going to the toilet. Drink responsibly and be aware of how much you are drinking and from whom you are accepting a drink.
Men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week. This should be spread over a few days.
What to do if you have been sexually assaulted
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you should report it to the police as soon as possible and avoid washing and cleaning your teeth before you see them. You may be asked to givethem items of clothing you were wearing when you were attacked as these may provide vital evidence to identify the person who attacked you. If you agree the police will also arrange for you to have a medical examination. The doctor can treat any injuries you have and give you emergency contraception if you need it, as well as gathering any evidence that may help the investigation.
What if I do not wish to go to the police?
If you decide that you do not wish to involve the police you may still require medical care e.g. if you are injured, need emergency contraception or wish to be tested for a sexually transmitted infection. Going to the police does not mean that you HAVE to give a statement or be examined. However the police can advise you of what your options are. You can report a sexual assault many years later if you wish and it will still be taken seriously.
What do I do if I am injured or still in danger?
If you have been injured you should go to the police or you nearest accident and emergency department. There, a doctor can examine your injuries and decide what treatment you require. If you feel that you or any family members or friends are still at risk, it would be wise to contact the police.
What do I do about contraception or if I think I could be pregnant?
If there was no condom used or you are not using a reliable form of contraception you should get emergency contraception. This should be taken as soon as possible but in some circumstances can be effective up to 5 days later. If you are worried about being pregnant you should do a pregnancy test 2-3 weeks later if your period hasn’t come.
Could I have caught an infection?
If you are worried about a sexually transmitted infection, it is too soon to be tested until 2 weeks later. This is best done at a sexual health clinic. Sometimes you can get antibiotics immediately after the assault once you have discussed it with a doctor eg the police doctor, your GP or the doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic, accident and emergency or the police doctor.
If you think the person who raped you is a high risk of Hepatitis or HIV, it is possible to get antiviral drugs up to 48 to 72 hours after the assault. This can be arranged through accident and emergency or the police doctor.
I can’t stop thinking about the assault
Being raped or sexually assaulted is a very distressing experience and the effects can last for a very long time. As everyone is different, it is not easy to know exactly you will feel. However your emotions may be very intense at times. You may also find it difficult to eat, sleep and concentrate or you may find yourself withdrawing form other people.
If you can’t stop thinking about it you should consider talking to your GP, or contacting one of a number of agencies. Victim Support can help you to understand the emotions you are feeling whether or not you have reported the crime. Rape Crisis can also support you through this time, no matter when the event happened (including many years ago). Women’s Aid can also help you if there is ongoing abuse or violence.
Whatever has happened it is important to remember that it is never your fault