A sexual assault is any act where someone:
- touches a person sexually without their consent
- penetrates a person sexually without their consent using part of their body or an other object
- ejaculates onto a person without consent
- urinates or spits on a person sexually without consent
- Engages in any other form of sexual activity without consent
Sexual coercion is where someone forces another person, for example by threatening them, to take part in sexual activities, look at sexual images or to be present while sexual acts are going on.
Rape is when “sex” takes place without consent. It can happen to women or men and can involve being forced to have sex through violence or through verbal threats, however it can also include circumstances in which no force was used (for example the victim was asleep or unconscious).
It does not matter whether the two people concerned know each other or not or whether they happen to be in a relationship or married.
Date rape is a term often used to refer to a rape that takes place between two people who know each other or who meet willingly at first. Sometimes alcohol or other drugs are involved. If a person is unable to give their consent at the time because they are drunk or drugged and later feels they had sex when they would not have wanted to, then the law says a rape has taken place. As far as the law is concerned, the penalties are the same as for any other kind of rape.
Consent can be withdrawn before or during any sexual activity.
What to Do
What to do if you've been sexually assaulted:
- Get somewhere safe
- Call someone who can help you: a friend, the police (999), or support organisations
- If you get help immediately after the assault, try not to wash or change your clothes. This may destroy forensic evidence that could be important if you decide to report the assault to the police
- Seek medical help
There are a number of things that you can do to try to preserve any forensic evidence that might be present. You may not feel able to do some or all of the things that are listed. Even if you are not able to take any of these measures or you have already washed, for example, there can still be forensic evidence present. If possible, you should try not to:
- Wash. If you do wash, try to wipe yourself with tissues first and keep these
- Clean your teeth
- Clean your fingernails
- Change or wash any clothes you were wearing
- Eat or drink anything
- Take any alcohol or drugs
- Go to the toilet. If you do go to the toilet, keep any tissues that you use
- Change or wash your bed clothes if the assault took place there
Write down everything that you remember happening, with as much detail as possible. This can help you to cope with the situation but may also be helpful if you decide to report the assault to the Police. It can also help to keep any text messages from your attacker and to use your phone to take pictures of anything that could be useful to show what happened.
Click here for more information and help following sexual assault and rape
If you've been sexually assaulted there are local services that can help.
The Sexual Assault Referral Network (SARN) can support you to report the assault to Police Scotland or if you are unsure of reporting, SARN can do a forensic medical examination (with the samples taken anonymously), should you wish to report the assault at a later date.
Examinations take place Monday – Friday at Kingsway Care Centre, Kings Cross Road, Dundee, DD2 3PT.
You can also contact WRASAC/RASAC or VSS who can support and accompany you to SARN. Men Only Tayside (MOT) and Victim Support Scotland (VSS) offer individual, tailored, emotional support to men aged over 18, including trans-men, who have experienced recent sexual assault or rape. Support is free, confidential and available when you need it.
Phone: 01382 238720 (Phone line available during office hours. 9.00am-4.30pm Monday to Friday. Please leave a message outwith these times.)
If you choose not to report the attack, you should consider getting medical help as soon as possible because you may be at risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. There are tablets that you can get to help prevent you from getting HIV called Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and you should also have a hepatitis B vaccine if you haven’t already had one.
The following services will provide care and treatment or refer you to another service if you need more specialist help:
- MOT or sexual health clinic
- a doctor or practice nurse at your GP surgery
- a hospital accident and emergency department
Staff are trained to deal with victims of sexual assault in a sensitive manner and are trained to treat injuries to the penis or anus and it is very important that you receive medical assistance.
Remember...You Are Not to Blame... Even If:
- Your attacker was an acquaintance, date, friend or partner
- You have been sexually intimate with that person or with others before
- You were drinking or using drugs
- You froze and did not or could not say "no," or were unable to fight back physically
If you are under 18 and have experienced sexual assault, you can contact the following agencies for support:
Historical Sexual Abuse
If you have experienced historical sexual abuse, you can contact:
You can get further support from the organisations listed here.