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Rape and sexual offences

All rape and sexual assault is serious. The terms rape and ‘sexual assault’ are used simply to differentiate between two types of offence. So what’s the difference?

Rape is when a person intentionally penetrates another’s vagina, anus or mouth with a penis, without the other person’s consent. Assault by penetration is when a person penetrates another person’s vagina or anus with any part of the body other than a penis, or by using an object, without the person’s consent.

The overall definition of sexual or indecent assault is an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation in the form of a sexual act, inflicted on someone without their consent. It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in any sexual acts.

Not all cases of sexual assault involve violence, cause physical injury or leave visible marks. Sexual assault can cause severe distress, emotional harm and injuries which can’t be seen – all of which can take a long time to recover from. This is why police use the term ‘assault’, and treat reports just as seriously as those of violent, physical attacks.

Consent

Consent means agreeing to a sexual activity of any kind. This means actually wanting to do something not just saying yes out of fear of the consequences of saying no.  It is a myth that you actually have to say ‘no’ for it to constitute rape.  The other person has to have a reasonable belief that you are consenting. So for example if you are asleep, or very drunk, they couldn’t claim that they thought you were consenting. Contrary to popular myth, many rape victims freeze rather than fight and scream. Nobody can assume that you will consent just because you are married, in a relationship or have had sex with them before, it is up to you whether you consent or not every single time.

Local Help and support

Blue Sky Centre

Blue Sky Centre logoSexual assault referral centres offer medical, practical and emotional support to anyone who has been sexually assaulted or raped.

The Blue Sky Centre is Warwickshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Cente (or SARC for short), based at the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton. The centre provides a service to men and women who have experienced rape or sexual assault. All Blue Sky Centre clients are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of gender identity, age, ethnicity, ability or sexuality.

The centre has specially trained support staff and doctors and nurses to care for victims. You can self refer to the centre for advice, support and a forensic medical examination (if applicable). If you are considering reporting the assault to the police Blue Sky’s staff will explain the process and what would happen and support you to report. Or they can share anonymous information with the police on your behalf. They can also arrange ongoing support from an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (see below), counselling and sexual health follow up services.

Call Blue Sky Centre on 0800 970 0370. All calls are confidential.

If you are at immediate risk of harm call 999.

Visit the Blue Sky Centre website

Covid-19 update

Despite these uncertain times of Covid-19, the team at Blue Sky Centre is still  open to offer support.

You can still contact Blue Sky 24/7 on 0800 970 0370 if you have been the victim of rape or sexual abuse. The SARC offers non-judgemental care and treatment.

SARCs encourage social distancing in line with government recommendations however, are not involved in enforcing social distancing and therefore offer support to all clients that need it.

Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs)

Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) work with people who have experienced sexual violence to get them access to the services they need.  The Commissioner funds a number of ISVA posts across the county.  They provide impartial advice on all the options available such as reporting to police, the criminal justice process, accessing sexual assault referral centres (SARCs), seeking support from specialist sexual violence organisations and other services such as housing or benefits.

Other organisations who can help

Rosa – Rape or Sexual Assault Support
Independent charity offering Free confidential support for anyone who has experienced the trauma of rape, sexual abuse or sexual violence.

Safeline
Specialist, tailored support for anyone affected by or at risk of sexual abuse and rape.

Other useful links

The following charities, groups and organisations  can also provide specialist information and support.

Victim Support
A national charity, funded in Warwickshire by the PCC, dedicated to helping anyone affected by crime – not just victims and witnesses, but friends, family and anyone else caught up in the aftermath.

Rape Crisis
A national charity offering confidential help, advice and a range of Rape Crisis Centres around the UK.

Galop
A national charity providing advice and support to members of the LGBT community.

Survivors UK
A national charity supporting men who have been raped or sexually assaulted.

Crimestoppers
A national charity with a free helpline for reporting crime anonymously.

Refuge
Refuge supports women, children and men with a range of services, including refuges, independent advocacy, community outreach and culturally specific services.

Women’s Aid
Women’s Aid is a national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children.

Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327
Confidential helpline for men experiencing domestic violence from a partner or ex-partner (or from other family members).

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