What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault can take many different forms, but one thing remains the same: it’s never the victim’s fault – there is no excuse for sexual assault.

Sexual assault is any sexual act that is unwanted and that no consent has been given in which a person is threatened, coerced, forced to comply against their will or unable to give consent to the activity. Sexual assault can include unwanted, non-consensual oral, anal or vaginal sexual intercourse, penetration with a foreign object (i.e. fingers, sex toys, etc.) or unwanted sexual touching on private parts of the body.

This could be perpetrated by a person that you know or by a complete stranger.  Sexual assault can take the form of:

  • Rape
  • Incest
  • Child Sexual Abuse/Molestation
  • Oral sex
  • Harassment
  • Exposing/flashing
  • Forcing a person to pose for sexual pictures
  • Fondling or unwanted sexual touching above and under clothing
  • Sexual harassment
  • Rape within relationships
  • Forced marriage
  • So-called honour-based violence
  • Female genital mutilation,
  • Trafficking,
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Ritual abuse
  • Sharing intimate photographs of you with your friends, their friends, social media and pornography sights without your consent or knowledge
  • Cameras being placed under your skirt or dress and filming you intimately without your knowledge
  • Hidden cameras filming you in getting changed or using the bathroom
  • Being forced or coerced into watching pornography
  • Being forced or coerced into taking part in sexual behaviour that you do not want to i.e. being forced or coerced into attending swinging parties or to take part in BDSM – Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM)

The term ‘sexual violence’ is often used to describe sexual assault and sexual abuse.


Who does it affect?

Sexual assault does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, regardless of their age, social background, gender, religion, sexual identity, race, culture, ethnicity or disability. Worldwide statistics show that one in four women and one in six men will experience sexual assault at some stage in their life time.


What causes sexual assault?

Sexual assault is perpetrated by both men and women. Usually the perpetrators know their victims and try to project a sense of power and control over the person. It is rarely about sexual pleasure. All forms of sexual violence are about getting power and feeling a sense of dominance over someone.


Further reading