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Please be aware that the following material contains information that you may find distressing. It is important to ensure you are in a place that feels safe to you before reading and that you feel able to access support should you need it, including our helpline.
I have just been raped
Please read our document on recent rape and sexual assault (PDF) about what your options are to do next including medical care, keeping evidence, and getting immediate help.
Forensic Evidence & Medical Assistance
Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) are specialist medical centres for men and women who have experienced a sexual offence. They can check you out medically and also take swabs to test for forensic evidence. You can go there yourself (and decide at a later date if you want to report the crime) or if you report to the police they will accompany you there if the rape happened within the previous seven days. Search for your nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre through the NHS list provided here.
You can also contact our Helpline 0808 802 9999 to talk to someone about how you’re feeling, what your choices are and where you could go to get the help you deserve.
What is Rape?
A man commits rape if he penetrates a person's vagina, anus or mouth with his penis without their consent and without reasonable belief in their consent. Your consent can only be given if you have the capacity to give it, which means that if you are drunk or unconscious you are not capable of giving your consent. Only a man can commit rape but a survivor can be a woman or a man. To be found guilty of rape the prosecution must show that the defendant did not ‘reasonably believe’ you were consenting to sex and present corroborating evidence. Rape is a serious crime and the perpetrator can potentially go to prison for life.
The legal definition of rape for England and Wales is:
Penile penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth without a reasonable belief in consent.
Consent is defined as:
Agreeing by choice, and having the freedom and capacity to make that choice.
Therefore if a woman is totally drunk, is drugged, is 13 years old or under, has limited mental capacity, is forced, imprisoned, coerced, terrified, asleep, or is in a coma, she is not capable of being able to give consent (this list is not exhaustive).
Children under 13
Sexual intercourse with a child 13 years old and under is automatically rape whether the child believes they consented or not. Legally children 13 years old and under cannot give consent to sexual intercourse. This is true regardless of what the perpetrator has told you, no matter what you said, what you did or how your body responded. If you were 13 years old or under this is automatically classified as rape.
Other crimes of sexual violence include:
Assault by Penetration: Your anus or vagina being penetrated by any part of a person’s (male or female) body or by any other instrument and the penetration is sexual and you do not consent to it.
Sexual Assault: Being intentionally touched by someone (male or female) in a sexual way and not consenting to it.
Causing a person to engage in sexual activity: being intentionally caused to engage in sexual activity without consenting.
What does the law mean in practice?
It means that if a man has ever penetrated you without you wanting him to, it is rape.
It means you don’t need to have said no or to have put up a fight.
It means that it doesn’t matter if you had consented to sex in exchange for money; you still have the right to say no to any sex act or to change your mind at any point.
It means the perpetrator is innocent until proven guilty, but he will need to show that he took steps to ensure that he was certain you wanted to have sex with him.
It means that consent is not given freely when force or pressure or threats are used, like “if you loved me you would”.
It means that it doesn’t matter what your relationship to him is.
It means it cannot be assumed that consent is ongoing.
It means you can agree to some sexual acts and not others.
It means you have the right to change your mind or stop at any time either before or during sex.
Click here to view our support documents. Each document is available as a PDF download.
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