Signs of sexual violence

The definitions of rape and sexual violence are as important to understand along with signs that someone my be experiencing sexual violence.

The current legal definition of rape is as follows:

"A person commits an offence if (a) he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person B‘ with his penis, (b) B‘ does not consent to the penetration, and (c) A‘ does not reasonably believe that B‘ consents."

Consent is defined as:

"A person consents if he or she agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. The law does not require the victim to have resisted physically in order to prove a lack of consent."

Sexual assault is defined as:

"Sexual assault is an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation, in the form of a sexual act, which is inflicted on someone without consent. It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in any sexual acts."

Adult victims of sexual violence are most likely to be young women between 18 and 24 years of age however men and women of any age, sexuality and race can be assaulted. This may be by a stranger but more likely by someone that they know.

Signs that someone may be experiencing sexual violence may include:

  • signs of sexual activity such as sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy
  • pain, soreness, itchiness, tears or bruises in genital or anal areas, breasts, or inner thighs
  • unusual difficulty in walking and sitting
  • signs that someone is trying to take control of their body or body image, such as head banging, self-harm, putting on or losing a lot of weight, anorexia or bulimia
  • sexualised behaviour by the person experiencing the abuse towards the perpetrator or towards other people
  • behaviour that indicates that the person is afraid of the perpetrator, or a change of behaviour in presence of the perpetrator or avoiding the perpetrator - it may be that the perpetrator is observed to have an overly familiar or sexualised relationship with the person experiencing abuse.

See the flowchart for sexual violence.