Rape Crisis


Rape & Sexual Abuse Support


We offer support & information to anyone over 13 years old who has been raped or sexually abused at any time in their life


Tel: 01224 590932

Email: info@rapecrisisgrampian.co.uk

What is sexual violence?


Content/Trigger Warning: Descriptions of Sexual Violence


At Rape Crisis Grampian we support anyone who has experienced sexual violence and would like to talk to someone about their experience. Some people may have experienced sexual violence and not known that what has happened to them is sexual violence, and sometimes people do not realise that they are deserving of support. We outlined various different types of sexual violence, however this list is not exhaustive, and if you have experienced something not listed here, please know you are still welcome to contact Rape Crisis Grampian for support.


Rape and sexual assault

Sexual assault involves any sexual act which a person does not consent to or is forced or coerced into. Please see the section on consent for more information on what we mean when we talk about consent.


• Rape is a sexual assault involving penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth by a penis.


• Other forms of sexual assault include groping, forced kissing, sexual touching (if you are clothed or not) and skirt lifting.


• For more information on the legal definition of rape and serious sexual assault please use this link


Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can include someone making degrading, abusive remarks or gestures (usually based on a person’s sexuality or gender); being leered or stared at; being subjected to sexual jokes and sexual propositions; having to listen to comments about personal sexual activity or sexual preference; and experiencing unwanted touching and bodily contact. Although sexual harassment happens everywhere, it is very common at work, or in educational settings, which can make it especially distressing and difficult to deal with. This can also include:


• Using words that refer to a person's sexuality as an insult like using the word ‘gay’ as describing something bad.


• Using sexual words to make someone feel bad like ‘slut or ‘slag’.


• Making threats or jokes about something serious like rape.


• Gossiping about someone’s sex life either verbally, using graffiti or using social media.


• Asking someone to send you a naked picture of herself/himself or sending unwanted sexual pictures to them.


• Showing or sending someone sexual pictures or videos.



Stalking can be perpetrated by someone who is known to you or by a total stranger. It involves the unwanted attention and behaviours of one or more people towards another person, causing them to experience fear and alarm. While in isolation some of the behaviours may not appear alarming, collectively these actions can become threatening. Stalking can include, but is not limited to:


• Following


• Unwanted contact through phone calls, emails, text messages or letters.


• Sending unsolicited gifts


• Standing outside the home/workplace/school/any other place that the person who is being stalked goes


• Physical or sexual assault


• Verbally abusing or humiliating publicly


• Property damage


• Threats against the person, or their loved ones


What is consent?

Consent involves a person having the freedom and capacity to agree to sexual activity. ‘Freedom’ means a person’s ability to say yes or no of their own free will (and this being respected). ‘Capacity’ means a person understanding that they have choices, being able to make and communicate decisions and understanding consequences. An easy way to describe consent is that it should be just as easy to say yes as it is to say no. If you feel like you cannot say no to a sexual activity, then this is not consent. Here are some examples of when consent cannot be given:


• If someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol they may not have the capacity to give their consent.


• If someone is being coerced, manipulated, intimidated or threatened into sexual activity then they are not being given the freedom to give consent.


• If someone is unconscious or asleep, they cannot give their consent.


• Consent isn’t fixed – a person has a right to change their mind at any time. Sexual activity must stop as soon as consent is withdrawn.


• Capacity to consent may also be affected by learning disabilities, mental health problems and head injuries.


• You cannot pretend to be someone else to get consent.


• In Scotland the age of consent is 16+


What are the effects of Sexual Violence?

There can be many different effects that survivors experience in the days, weeks, months and years following sexual violence. There is no right or wrong way to respond, and each survivor will react differently. Some survivors may be affected in many ways, some will be affected by none; however a survivor responds is absolutely normal for them. The following are some of these potential effects:



• Sleep problems


• Loss of energy


• Gynecological problems


• Sexually Transmitted Infections




• Fibromyalgia


• Tension


• Weight loss/gain


• Fertility problems


• Decreased immunity


• Pregnancy




• Anger




• Anxiety


• Depression


• Dissociation


• Nightmares


• Fear


• Flashbacks


• Low self-esteem/confidence




• Panic attacks


• Self-harm


• Suicidal thoughts/attempts


• Self-blame


• Substance/alcohol misuse


• Sexual Problems




• Difficulties trusting others


• Relationship difficulties


• Parenting problems


• Withdrawal from social situations


• Difficulties engaging in education


• Difficulties engaging in employment


• Reduced participation in wider community


Child sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse is when a child or young person under the age of 18 is forced or coerced into taking part in sexual activities. This can be broken down into contact and non-contact abuse. Contact abuse is when physical contact has taken place. This could include:


• Sexual touching of any part of a child’s body (if the child is clothed or not).


• Forcing a child to touch another person’s genitals.


• Penetration of a child’s vagina, anus or mouth with a body part or object.


Non-contact abuse involves non-touching activities, which could include:


• Online abuse including making, viewing or distributing child abuse images.


• Showing pornography to a child.


• Failing to prevent a child being exposed to sexual activities.


• Grooming.


• Meeting a child after grooming them with the intent of abusing.


• Persuading/manipulating a child into performing sexual acts over the internet.


• Forcing or encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts.


• Flashing.


• Sexually exploiting a child for money, power or status (see next section on child sexual exploitation).


Child Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is child sexual abuse, it happens when a child or young person under the age of 18 is forced, manipulated, coerced or encouraged to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something such as gifts, alcohol, money or affection.


• Often Child Sexual Exploitation seems like a normal relationship or friendship at the start.


• Like child sexual abuse, Child Sexual Exploitation can happen directly in person or online, and can include contact and non-contact activity.


• Sometimes the sexual activity can appear consensual, however it is still abuse. See the following section on consent for more information.


• The perpetrators of Child Sexual Exploitation may be in groups or individuals, young people, or adults, and can be perpetrated by all genders.


• Regardless of who the perpetrators are, there will be a power imbalance in favor of the abuser.


• The abuse can be opportunistic or organised, a one-off incident or part of a series of abuse.