What is 'sexual assault'?
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Consent can be withdrawn before or during any sexual activity.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 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 and any sanitary protection
• 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 services that can help. You don’t have to report the assault to police if you don’t want to however Police Scotland is committed to supporting victims of rape and other sexual offences regardless of when the attack happened. They recognise how difficult it can be to report sexual crime and have specially trained officers, both male and female who are here to help and support you.
If you have not yet contacted the police after an attack, then please consider doing so. Specially trained officers will be available to assist you and you can be confident that your complaint will be taken seriously. Speak to us at MOT or Sexual Health Services and we can give you more detailed information about the process of reporting to the police to help you to decide whether or not this is something you want to do.
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 voluntary organisation, such as Rape Crisis Scotland or Broken Rainbow
• 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. Medical staff won’t tell anyone else about the assault unless they think you can’t understand or make choices about your own care or if they think you are still at risk of harm. They will always talk to you before any information is shared with other agencies.
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
Ways to Take Care of Yourself
• Get support from friends and family - try to identify people you trust to validate your feelings. Spend time with people who know your strengths and positive qualities. Try not to isolate yourself
• Talk about the assault and express feelings - you can choose when, where, and with whom. You can also decide how much or how little to talk about
Support with Recent Sexual Assault/Rape
Anyone, male or female can be a victim of sexual violence. We understand how difficult it can be to discuss your experience, even with family and friends and that this time can be traumatic, but support is available. Men Only Tayside (MOT) and Victim Support Scotland (VSS) are collaborating to offer individual, tailored, emotional support to men aged over 18, including trans-men, who have experienced recent sexual assault or rape.
We hope this confidential service will enable more men to come forward, seek help and gain dedicated support.
When you get in touch, we will contact you within 48 hours to arrange a confidential meeting in a safe space to suit you, to discuss a support plan. The service can provide emotional support to victims of crime and information and support through the criminal justice process and witness service support at court, if you choose to report the assault to Police Scotland. You do not have to report the assault to Police Scotland to get support from us.
If you are 18 or older and have recently experienced sexual assault, please get in touch with us on the details below:
If you are under 18 and have experienced sexual assault, you can contact the following agencies for support:
If you have experienced historical sexual abuse, you can contact:
You can get further support from the organisations listed here.