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What is sexual violence?

Sexual Violence has a very broad definition. Stalking, sexual assault, rape, sexual harassment, stealthing, childhood sexual abuse, sexual abuse through technology, trafficking, forced prostitution, incest, intimate partner sexual violence, drug facilitated sexual violence, sexual exploitation, institutional sexual violence, professional sexual exploitation, FGM, pornography are all forms of sexual violence.

If you are unsure whether or not what you have experienced fits into this category please get in touch with one of the first responders.

What is consent?

Consent means that both people in a sexual encounter must agree to it, and either person may decide at any time that they no longer consent and want to stop the activity.

Consenting to one behaviour does not obligate you to consent to any other behaviours. Consenting on one occasion also does not obligate you to consent on any other occasion.

Consenting means only that at this particular time, you would like to engage in this particular sexual behaviour.

Tea and Consent

by Thames Valley Police

How do we respond to sexual violence?

The brain processes sexual violence as trauma. All trauma is processed by our brains as a threat to safety and life. A set of responses are seen in those experiencing threat and they are:

Fight – Flight – Freeze – Flop – Friend

When we make these decisions the front (primal) part of the brain, where clever negotiation and cognition takes place, is either partly or wholly off!

So whatever action (or non-action) someone took when sexual violence took place, was intended by their brain to keep them alive.

It is non-negotiable, not a cognitive choice, and NEVER to be challenged.

'So Many Reasons' #IJUSTFROZE

by Rape Crisis Scotland

Sexual violence is not as rare as you might think

  • One in four adults will have experienced some form of childhood sexual abuse under the age of 18 (
  • One in five women report some form of sexual violence at some stage in their adult lives (, 2015)
  • 90% of those raped say they knew the perpetrator (, 2015)
  • Four out of five children who experience sexual abuse will not have told anyone by the time they reach adulthood (, 2015)
  • 72,000 men are victims of sexual violence in the UK each year (, 2012).
  • Globally, one in three women has experienced sexual violence in a relationship (WHO, 2016)
  • One in two trans people experience sexual violence at some stage in their lives (, 2015)
  • 46% of bisexual-identified women report being raped at some stage in their lives (compared to 17% of heterosexual-identified women and 13% of lesbian-identified women) (NISVS, 2010)
  • 97% of female students who anonymously said they’d experienced sexual assault perpetrated by a fellow student whilst at university did not report (YouthSight, 2015)

See also the Hidden Marks Survey reports on perpetrators.

What now?

If you would like to talk to someone or report an incident, you can either contact one of our first responders or complete the Anonymous Reporting Form.

Time limits

Although it is up to you how to proceed, there are certain time constraints that you should keep in mind:

  • If you suspect you were given any type of drug, it is best to be tested within 24 hours
  • If you would like HIV prophylaxis, the medication should be started within 36 hours
  • If you want emergency contraception, the medication should be started within 72 hours


UK emergency number: 999. The above members of staff can help you refer to the below organisations. These agencies can refer you on to the police and they can help you report the incident.


There are two main types of service which can support survivors of sexual violence:

a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA).


A Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) provides services to survivors of rape or sexual assault regardless of whether the survivor chooses to reports the offence to the police or not. They are designed to be comfortable and multi-functional, providing private space for interviews and examinations, and some may also offer counselling services.  “SARC”s have specialist staff that are trained to help you make informed decisions about what you want to do next. It is recommended that the survivor goes with a friend the process can take a long time.

Our nearest Local SARC: Haven Whitechapel 020 7247 4787


An Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) is trained to look after a person’s needs, and to ensure that they receive care and understanding. ISVAs will help them understand how the criminal justice process works, and will explain things, such as what will happen if they report to the police, and the importance and process of forensic DNA retrieval. An ISVA is there to provide information only so that they can make the right decision. By contacting them, they are not expected to report any offence to the police.

Our nearest local ISVAs:

For women and girls

ISVA Service at RASASC Rape Crisis South London, with 3 ISVAs

Telephone: 0208 683 3311


Client Group: Women and girls aged 13+

Area covered: South London boroughs

RASASC website

For men

Contact Name: Alan Robertson, Male ISVA at SurvivorsUK

Telephone: 07496 287 527


Area Covered: London

Client Group: Male survivors over the age of 18

SurvivorsUK website

Under 18s

Please remember that if you are under 18 the NSPCC will also have to be contacted. In this case information may be passed on without consent.

Telephone: 0808 800 5000

NSPCC website