Rape and Sexual Assault

Many people are put in the position of experiencing unwanted sexual contact or are forced in some way into sexual acts.

It is never the fault of the person who is being abused.

If consent is not given, then anyone subjecting another person to any form of indecent behaviour is committing a crime.

It is a criminal offence to touch or threaten a person in an indecent way (including groping or unwanted fondling). This is called indecent assault.

The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 was implemented 1st December 2010 and replaced a mixture of common law and statutory provision by putting Scots Law on sexual offences into a single Act.  The Act broadens the definition of rape to include anal and oral rape of women and men, as well as vaginal rape.  Rape is defined as penetration of someone’s vagina, anus or mouth (to however small an extent) by a penis without consent or reasonable belief in consent.  The Act defines consent as free agreement and makes it clear than consent can be withdrawn at any time.  The Act also sets out an offence of sexual assault by penetration, which covers for example, penetration by objects, and which is equilivant in seriousness to rape.  The Act also creates specific offences in relation to the rape and sexual assault of children, and makes it clear that anyone under the age of 13 is considered unable to consent to sexual activity.  The Act applies to all offences from 1st December 2010 – offences committed prior to this date will be covered by the previous legislation and/or common law.

Going out with someone, being married to them, or if they have agreed to sex before, are not an excuse. There is no free invitation to have sexual intercourse with someone. If someone does not freely consent and is forced to have sex then it’s rape.

Whatever form it takes, unwanted sexual contact can be a painful experience both physically and emotionally. Rape without physical injury is just as emotionally damaging. This emotional pain can often get worse if the person keeps it to themselves. If you have been sexually assaulted or raped, you may not want to or find it difficult to tell someone. There are, however, many ways that you can get support (see below).

Adult residents in Lanarkshire can use the Archway Service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Appointments can be arranged by calling 0141 211 8175.  You do not have to report what has happened to the Police, but if you choose to, most Police Stations have officers who are specially trained to deal with your situation in a sensitive way.  If the assault happened less than 7 days, the Police will arrange to take you to Archway.  If it is more than 7 days you can still make a complaint and you can also contact Sexual Health Services in Lanarkshire on 0845 618 7191.  You can have a friend or parent with you.  It is a good idea to bring someone you trust with you, if possible for support.

If you report the incident as soon as possible, this will enable the capture of any forensic evidence.  Once you have told the police that you have been raped or sexually assaulted, or the suspect has been charged, you have the right to remain anonymous and none of your details can appear in a paper or on TV or radio.

Help and Support

  • Archway – Archway is a specialist sexual assault referral centre based in Glasgow and provides forensic medical examinations, sexual health screening, emergency contraception, follow up support and counselling to people over 16 who have experienced recent sexual assault.  Appointments can be arranged on 0141 211 8175.  The service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Lanarkshire Rape Crisis Centre (LRCC) - 01698 527003 (Monday/Wednesday 1.00 p.m. – 3.30 p.m., Tuesday/Thursday 6.00 p.m. – 8.30 p.m., Friday 10.30 a.m. – 1.00 p.m.), www.lanrcc.org.uk. LRCC will talk to any woman or girl who has had an unwanted sexual experience.
  • A new website with information about this subject is www.thisisnotaninvitationtorapeme.co.uk
  • Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 027 1234 (24 hour, confidential, free from landlines – mobile costs may vary) www.domesticabuse.co.uk
  • EVA Services based in NHS Lanarkshire offers services to women living in Lanarkshire.  Ask a Health Professional to contact us on your behalf.
    http://www.nhslanarkshire.org.uk/Services/EVA%20Services/Pages/default.aspx   (EVA can help and support you with specialist advocacy, counselling and psychology services for women who have experienced trauma at any time in their lives)   
  • Rape Crisis Scotland - 08088 01 03 02 (daily, 6.00 p.m. to midnight) www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk
  • Women’s Support Project, support for women who’s children have been sexually abused – 0141 552 2221, www.womenssupportproject.co.uk.
  • Men and boys can get help and support from Survivors UK - 0845 122 1201 (Monday and Tuesday 7.30pm to 9.00pm and Thursday 12 mid-day - 2.30 p.m. except bank Holidays) www.survivorsuk.org.
  • General mental health contacts:
    Samaritans – 0845 790 9090, www.samaritans.org
    Breathing Space (aimed at young men but open to all) – 0800 83 85 87 www.breathingspacescotland.co.uk  or
    ChildLine (for children and young people only) – 0800 1111, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, www.childline.org.uk

If you are accused of rape

You should contact a solicitor immediately: rape is a serious crime and punishment can be severe.

Please find below a link to a publication “Sensitive and Personal Records – Information for victims of sexual crimes” by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) for information.

http://www.copfs.gov.uk/Publications/2012/06/Policy-obtaining-and-disclosing-sensitive-personal-records-investigation-and-prosecution-Sexual-Crim

Coming to term with abuse

Each person who goes through abuse deals with it in their own way, but there are some common themes that might help if you have been abused.  Look after yourself. The fact that you were abused cannot be changed: however it was not your fault, so try not to punish yourself. Now is the time that you need and deserve to be looked after, so treat yourself with respect and care, and give yourself a chance to heal. This is not easy by yourself; it might become easier if you get some help. Talking about feelings allows them to be dealt with. This should be someone you feel you can trust, and could be a friend or family member. If you would rather get help from someone who doesn’t know you, then Rape Crisis, EVA and other organisations are out there to provide just that kind of support (see above for details). You can use more than one of these options and remember that you can have all the support you need. You are not alone, and others can help.

Let yourself get angry

Your anger is a powerful feeling, and it can cause you a lot of damage and pain inside if it is bottled up. Try to find a way to let your anger out that doesn’t harm you (or others). It doesn’t necessarily mean shouting and screaming (though that is fine); some people might release all their anger by writing down their feelings.

Depression and Grief

These too are common and natural feelings to have after an experience of abuse. Again let yourself have these feelings and get support to help you through.

Going through and allowing these responses should mean you begin to feel more in control, and regain your own strength and self.

Some people feel it helps to talk to someone else who has been through a similar experience, and many personal accounts have also been written down. Ask Rape Crisis or Centre for Women’s Health for details.

In later life

If someone has experienced sexual abuse in their childhood, the memory of it can be blocked out, or they might not realise what was happening until much later in life. Any number of things could trigger some recalling of past events, or sometimes certain feelings or experiences might appear that are connected to the abuse.

These might include shame or guilt, flashbacks, anger, difficulty becoming intimate (or finding themselves in intense relationships which they find difficult to cope with), fear or loneliness. If the abuse and its effects have been locked away for some time, it can be just as painful to acknowledge it as if it had only just happened. There are ways to help the healing process, and get the help you need, just like the ones described above. You do not have to go through the process alone. It was not your fault then, and the feelings you may have are not your fault later. Get support to help you through, and allow yourself to feel in control again and begin to heal. 

Young people under 16 who have been abused

If you are a young person afraid for yourself, or you are worried about another young person contact ChildLine on 0800 1111, it is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you are an adult worried about a child’s safety or welfare, or if you need help or advice, call the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) child protection helpline on 0808 800 5000.

Remember:  Nobody has the right to force unwanted sexual acts on anyone else.

Related posts:

  1. Prostitution
  2. Domestic Abuse