Domestic Abuse

Consent - Sex without consent is rape

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By working together to raise awareness of the realities of rape we aim to educate people to keep themselves safe and hope to see an increased number of people being more confident to seek help and report crimes to the police.

Sexual violence

Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. There are many different kinds of sexual violence, including but not restricted to:

  • Rape.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Child sexual abuse.
  • Sexual harassment.
  • Rape within marriage / relationships.
  • Forced marriage.
  • So-called honour-based violence.
  • Female genital mutilation (FGM).
  • Trafficking.
  • Sexual exploitation.
  • Ritual abuse.

Sexual violence can be perpetrated by a complete stranger, or by someone known and even trusted, such as a friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner.

The following document outlines some facts and statistics about rape: Sex without Consent is Rape, Did You Know (PDF, 115.89KB, 1 page).

Consent

The SafeDate website provides clear information on what is sexual consent.

  • Sex is not a ‘right’ and you can say no at any point.
  • If a woman or man hasn’t consented and you still have sex with them, it is rape.
  • If you are not sure whether someone is too drunk to consent, assume consent is not given.
  • Being drunk / on drugs yourself is not a defence for rape.
  • Rape is never the victim’s fault.
  • A conviction for rape means a prison sentence.
  • Any form of unwanted sexual touching is a crime, whether or not it leads to rape, and the police will investigate every rape and sexual assault reported to them.
  • Rape is a crime of basic intent where the offender has sex with someone who does not consent. 
  • Being drunk is no defence. If you are charged with rape you will have to go to court and give evidence in front of a jury. You could face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
  • If  you or someone is in immediate danger or at serious risk of harm, you are advised to call the police on 999.


If you have been raped or sexually assaulted recently, the next step is to get help

  • Go to a safe place such as the home of a trusted friend or family member.
  • You do not have to call the police, but if you do want to call 101 ask to speak to a specially trained officer. If you get help immediately after the assault, try not to wash or change your clothes. This may destroy forensic evidence that could be important.

  • If you are not sure if you do want to report the assault to the police you can still go to Treetops Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) (Portsmouth) by telephoning 0300 123 6616, where you can have a forensic and medical examination. They can store the forensic results until you make up your mind whether to report to the police or not.

  • If you are not sure what you want to do, then you could phone the Island’s Independent Sexual Violence adviser on 07376 083950 who will be able to provide support and advice.

  • Yellow Door (Formerly Southampton Rape Crisis) offers a counselling service to victims from the Isle of Wight. Helpline: 02380 636312.

  • If you are concerned about a child’s safety or welfare please contact Children Services - Hants Direct on 0300 300 0117. 

  • Survivorsuk.org provide support, information and advice on male rape and sexual abuse, and the profound effects it has on those who experience it.

ISVA Service (Independent Sexual Violence Advisor)

An ISVA is an Independent Sexual Violence Advocate, who offers confidential advice and support to both males and females who have been the victims of recent or historic sexual violence. This service is run by the Hampton Trust.

What can you expect from the service:

ISVAs will give you the information you need to decide what it is you would like and need. For example:

  • Practical advice on reporting to the police, the legal process and attending court
  • Refer you for counselling and other appropriate services
  • Help to co-ordinate different agencies, such as sexual health, mental health, substance misuse and housing
  • Liaise with the police for regular case updates, if you choose to report the sexual assault
  • Regular and ongoing telephone contact and/or face to face meetings and support

 

If you wish, they can also go with you to the following:

  • Sexual Assault and Referral Centre (SARC) at Treetops
  • Police, if you choose to repor
  • Sexual health clinic
  • Court
  • Doctors
  • Housing office

 

An ISVA will only provide the support you choose. The role is not to tell you what to do, but helping you make informed choices.

If you would like further information, please contact:

  • Deborah Gearing ISVA 07376 083950 (Monday Tuesday Wednesday)
  • Judi King ISVA 07930932249 (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
  • Email: isva@hamptontrust.org.uk

 

We have created a useful document which provides contact details to a number of organisations, that offer help and support:   Help and support guidance (PDF, 66.59KB, 3 pages).

Raising awareness about 

There is a continuing belief in our society that women should be responsible for ‘protecting’ themselves from being raped or sexually assaulted.  This belief in the victim’s culpability is partly to blame for the low numbers of cases that come to court for prosecution (only 6% of reported rapes end in a conviction) and why so many victims never tell anyone about what has happened in the first place.

To understand why this belief exists we need to look at the myths that surround rape and serious sexual assaults.  These myths include women being responsible for rape if:

  • They are dressed in a certain way.
  • Are out alone late at night.
  • Are drunk.
  • Have flirted with the perpetrator.

These myths allow victims to be criticised for sending out the ‘wrong message’, whilst excusing perpetrators for being ‘led on’.  Perpetrators of rape are often presented as having no ability to control their actions or behaviour, so that preventing rape becomes the responsibility of the victim.  This was illustrated by the treatment on social media of the footballer Ched Evans’ victim and the abuse that she has suffered for being drunk at the time of the rape.

There are further myths about who perpetrates rape, with a continuing belief that rapists are strangers who attack victims in dark alleys; whereas we know that the majority of rapes actually involve someone known to the victim – most often their current or former partner – and take place within a domestic setting. Despite these facts marriage and long-term relationships are still seen as a ‘grey-area’ with the belief that you cannot ‘really’ be raped or sexually assaulted within a long term relationship (be that hetero or homosexual). 

Rape is a serious social issue. In January 2013, the Ministry of Justice Office for National Statistics and Home Office released the first ever joint Official Statistics bulletin on sexual violence, entitled An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales.

It reported that:

  • Approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year.
  • Over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year.
  • 1 in 5 women (aged 16 - 59) has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.

On the Island 146 rapes/serious sexual offences were reported to the police in 2013.  This will be a tiny fraction of the actual number rapes and sexual assaults that took place.

Attitudes which blame victims for rape can have a significantly detrimental effect: they can stop victims seeking support or reporting to the police, due to fear of being blamed for what has happened.  There is also serious concern about the impact that these attitudes may be having on the ability of women who have been raped to secure justice: rape juries are made up of members of the public, and statistically it is likely that there will be people on the jury in a rape trial who hold attitudes that women are partially responsible for rape if they are drinking, dressed in revealing clothing etc.

Alison Saunders, Head of the Crown Prosecution Service, believes enduring rape myths are leading to more and more acquittals.  This is because jurors arrive at court with preconceptions which affect how they consider the evidence.

Amnesty International UK research (Amnesty International Report on attitudes to sexual assault in the UK (2005) (www.amnesty.org.uk) found that:

  • 34% of people thought that a woman was fully or partially responsible for being raped if she behaved in a ‘flirtatious’ manner.
  • 30% of people thought that a woman was fully or partially responsible for being raped if she was drunk.
  • 26% of people thought that a woman was fully or partially responsible for being raped if she was wearing ‘sexy or revealing’ clothing.
  • 22% of people thought that a woman was fully or partially responsible for being raped if she has had many sexual partners.

These beliefs need to be challenged if we want to see an increase in convictions for rape.

N.B The statistical information above is based on the ‘This is not an Invitation to Rape Me’ campaign run by Rape Crisis Scotland. Rape Crisis Scotland evaluated the campaign. They conducted 882 interviews with members of public.  98% agreed the campaign tackles an important issue, 65% stated it would encourage them to talk about the subject with their friends and family and 61% said that it would make them consider their own attitudes towards rape.