What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault means being made to take part in any sexual activity or being touched in a sexual way without your agreement. Remember, the law says your agreement must be given freely for it to count.It’s not always easy to know if you’ve experienced sexual assault or violence. Most people are not attacked by strangers on a street at night, although this does happen. Most people are attacked by someone they know, someone they trust and someone they’re hoping to have a good time with. Sometimes it’s your partner or someone you fancy who you’ve met online or at a club or through your friends.

Sometimes things start out OK but just go beyond what you’re comfortable with. The other person doesn’t listen to you and doesn’t stop, even if you to want them to. You can feel instinctively that something is wrong but too intimidated, powerless, alone or unsure to know how to get yourself to a safe place. Sometimes you feel confused and are not sure if you’ve been assaulted. Maybe drink and drugs were involved or you’re unsure what saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ means, or what your rights are.

Remember, consent means your freely given agreement to a sexual act or activity. You do not have to be touched for a sexual offence to be committed and you do not have to shout ‘stop’. If you are tricked, persuaded, forced or frightened into any activity which is sexual or for the sexual pleasure of the person forcing you to do it, without your consent, this is called sexual assault in law. This makes it a crime.

It can be devastating to be the victim of sexual assault and violence. It can happen to anyone, whatever your gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity or lifestyle. If it has happened to you, you can contact Galop in confidence to get support and think through your options.