Have I Been Raped?

Many of the women who call us ask “was it rape?”, below are some legal definitions of a few offences which are classed as sexual violence. There are many more than the ones listed below.

Legal Definitions

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 defines rape as ‘the penetration with a penis of the vagina, anus or mouth of another person without their consent’.

The Act describes penetration of another person’s vagina, mouth or anus with any part of the body other than the penis or any object without their consent, as ‘sexual assault by penetration’, which can carry the same sentences as rape.

The overall definition of sexual or indecent assault is an ‘act of physical, psychological and emotional violation, in the form of a sexual act, inflicted upon someone without their consent.  It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in any sexual acts’.

We encourage our clients to use the language that they find most meaningful and representative and we do not use legal terminology or definitions.

Everyone has the right to say ‘no’ to sex, to withdraw or withhold their consent for any sexual act, on any occasion and under any circumstances, regardless of whether they’ve given consent to sex with that person in the past and regardless of whether they’re in a relationship with the other person. Sex without consent is rape.

If someone is incapacitated through the (willing or unknown) consumption of drugs or alcohol, they are unable to consent to sexual activity and sexual activity with them is therefore a crime.  There is no excuse for sexual violence; it can never be justified, it can never be explained away and there is no context in which it is valid, understandable or acceptable.


Sexual assault is the touching of someone, in a sexual way, without their consent. This used to be called indecent assault.

Is when someone forces or manipulates a person to witness or participate in any sexual acts, such as masturbation, or watching or acting out pornography.

For legal advice for women go to: https://rightsofwomen.org.uk

More information about the legal definitions of sexual violence can be found here: Sexual Offences Act 2003 



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