There’s never an excuse for sexual abuse and violence, #ITSNOTOK.
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week takes place from February 7-12 and aims to shine a spotlight on the reality of sexual abuse and violence. Sadly, the victims of sexual abuse and violence are often ignored, not believed or made to feel as it was somehow their fault. This is not OK. There is no excuse. It is nobody else’s fault except the perpetrator and yet their behaviour is often minimised, excused or even ignored. That’s why it’s so important to join in the conversation and support the statement that #ITSNOTOK. You can read more about the #ITSNOTOKcampaign here.
What Is Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence?
Sexual abuse is when someone inflicts a sexual act upon another person without their consent. This includes men, women and children. There are different types of sexual assault, including rape, groping, attempted rape, sodomy (this is the insertion of an object or body part into a person’s mouth or anus without their consent) and incest (sexual abuse by a family member).
What Is Indecent Exposure?
Another type of sexual violence is ‘flashing’, otherwise known as indecent exposure. This is when someone deliberately ‘flashes’ their naked body or sexual organs at another person to scare or intimidate them. Indecent exposure also happens online when someone sends an unwanted photo of their genitals (such as ‘dick pics’) to another person.
What Is Spiking?
Spiking someone else with drugs or alcohol is dangerous and can make the victim extremely vulnerable. Most spiking happens when someone has their drink spiked but it can also be administered with a needle and you may have seen some recent news stories about this happening in pubs and clubs. If you ever suspect your drink has been spiked, or you’re worried about a friend, get help from the bar staff immediately. Ask to talk to ‘Angela’ – this is code to let them know that you need assistance and that all is not well. Stick with your friends and stay close until help arrives.
What Is FGM?
FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is another form of sexual violence. FGM is when a female’s vagina is cut, injured or altered. It’s sometimes known as female circumcision. There is no medical reason to do this, and it can cause long-term physical damage and extreme distress to the person’s health. It’s less common in the UK, but it does happen – one research study* suggests 137,000 women living in England and Wales are affected by the practice. FGM is often carried out on young girls before they hit puberty. This cruel practice is illegal in the UK and is classed as child abuse.
Support For Victims Of Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence
If you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse or sexual violence, it’s vital to understand that it was not your fault. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, what you were drinking, who you were with, what you said or what you did – you are not to blame. There is NO excuse for sexual abuse and sexual violence.
If you have been sexually assaulted it’s important to seek medical assistance immediately for any injuries you may have and because you may be at risk of pregnancy or STIs. It can feel scary to talk to medical staff about what you’ve experienced but rest assured that you will be in safe hands and looked after in a professional, sensitive way. Try not to wash or throw away any clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault as this can destroy important forensic evidence that can help find and punish the person who committed this terrible crime against you.
Remember: this is not your fault. Please seek support to help you process and deal with the trauma you’ve experienced. You can find your nearest sexual assault referral centre here: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/Rape-and-sexual-assault-referral-centres/LocationSearch/364
Women’s Aid https://www.womensaid.org.uk/
Survivors UK (for male victims of sexual assault) https://www.survivorsuk.org/
Victim Support https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/
*Source: City University