SEXUAL & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
What is Sexual Violence?
Sexual assault is any sexual act that a person did not consent to, or is forced into against their will. It is a form of sexual violence and includes rape (an assault involving penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth), or other sexual offences, such as groping, forced kissing, child sexual abuse or the torture of a person in a sexual manner.
Sexual assault is an act that is carried out without the victim’s active consent. This means they didn’t agree to it. It is not uncommon for a victim of sexual assault to have no physical injuries or signs of their assault. But sexual assault is still a crime and can be reported to the police in the same way as other crimes.
What to do if you need help:
If you've been sexually assaulted, there are services that can help. You don’t have to report the assault to police if you don’t want to. You may need time to think about what has happened to you. However, consider getting medical help as soon as possible, because you may be at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmiitted infections (STIs). If you want the crime to be investigated, the sooner a forensiic medical examination takes place, the better.
Try not to wash or change your clothes immediately after a sexual assault. This may destroy forensic evidence that could be important if you decide to report the assault to the police.
The following services will also provide treatment or support, and can refer you to another service if you need more specialist help (such as a sexual assault referral centre also referred to as SARC):
Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) offer medical, practical and emotional support. They have specially trained doctors, nurses and support workers to care for you.
What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone. Domestic violence, also called domestic abuse, includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse in couple relationships or between family members.
Domestic violence can happen against women and against men, and anybody can be an abuser. If you're worried someone might see you have been on this page, find out how to cover your tracks online.
Signs of domestic violence and abuse
These are different kinds of abuse, but it's always about having power and control over you. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might be in an abusive relationship.
Does your partner ever:
belittle you, or put you down?
blame you for the abuse or arguments?
deny that abuse is happening, or play it down?
isolate you from your family and friends?
stop you going to college or work?
make unreasonable demands for your attention?
accuse you of flirting or having affairs?
tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, and what to think?
control your money, or not give you enough to buy food or other essential things?
Does your partner ever:
threaten to hurt or kill you?
destroy things that belong to you?
stand over you, invade your personal space?
threaten to kill themselves or the children?
read your emails, texts or letters?
harass or follow you?
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, whether they're male or female.
Does your partner ever:
touch you in a way you don't want to be touched?
make unwanted sexual demands?
hurt you during sex?
pressure you to have unsafe sex – for example, not using a condom?
pressure you to have sex?
If you decide to leave
The first step in escaping an abusive situation is realising that you're not alone and it's not your fault. If you're considering leaving, be careful who you tell. It's important your partner doesn't know where you're going.
Before you go, try to get advice from an organisation such as:
Services here to help:
- Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre - Deliver a range of support services to women and children in Cambridgeshire who are survivors of rape, sexual abuse and violence.
- Peterborough Rape Crisis Centre - is committed to supporting and empowering female survivors of rape and sexual abuse, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexuality, age and other discriminatory factors respecting individual lifestyles through the provision of a confidential telephone help line, a face to face support service and other appropriate support mechanisms.
- Victim Support - As an independent charity, we work towards a world where people affected by crime or traumatic events get the support they need and the respect they deserve. We help people feel safer and find the strength to move beyond crime. Our support is free, confidential and tailored to your needs.
- The Survivors Trust - Living with the consequences of rape and sexual abuse can be devastating. At TST, we believe that all survivors are entitled to receive the best possible response to their needs whether or not they choose to report.
- Women's Aid - We believe everyone has the human right to live in safety and free from violence and abuse. Women are the overwhelming majority of victims of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is a violation of women and their children’s human rights. It is the result of an abuse of power and control, and is rooted in the historical status and inequality of women in in society.
- Survivors UK - We offer individual counselling, group work and helpline services from our base in Shadwell, London E1 for men who have been victims of domestic and sexual abuse.
- GALOP - LGBT+ anti-violence charity. If you’ve experienced hate crime, sexual violence or domestic abuse, we’re here for you. We also support lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people who have had problems with the police or have questions about the criminal justice system.
- Men's Advice Line - helpline: 0808 801 0327 (Mon to Fri: 9am to 5pm), firstname.lastname@example.org, Confidential helpline for all men (in heterosexual or same-sex relationships) experiencing domestic violence by a current or ex-partner.
- Respect - helpline: 0808 802 4040 (Mon to Fri: 9am to 5pm), email@example.com, Runs support services and programmes for people who inflict violence in relationships, including young men and women. Also runs the men's advice line, as above.
- The Hide Out - Women's Aid website to help young people understand domestic abuse, and how to take positive action if it's happening to them.
- The Forced Marriage Unit - helpline: 020 7008 0151, firstname.lastname@example.org, Joint initiative between the Foreign Office and Home Office. It assists actual and potential victims of forced marriage, as well as professionals working in the social, educational and health sectors.
- Ashiana Sheffield - helpline: 0114 255 5740, email@example.com, aims to help prevent murder and serious harm to black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee women in England, Wales and Scotland as a result of domestic abuse and forced marriage and 'honor'-based violence. Also supports children and young people.
Group Therapy's Alone Together Support Groups - In response to the COVID-19 pandemic we have set up a number of online ‘Alone Together’ support groups to help people during this challenging time. Although these aren’t therapy groups as such, the group therapists will allow you space to reflect on your experiences with other people and will introduce interventions if they feel they would be useful.
The support groups offer the chance to gain back some kind of community and connection with other individuals. They are for anyone who is feeling alone, isolated or struggling with life in general, and would like to join a group to share their experiences and connect with others.
Mental health challenges are common but help is available and with the right support many people recover completely. Check out our Support Services Page for lots of services who are local and national!
*Some information gathered from www.nhs.uk and the services listed.