Sexual violence is defined as any sexual act that is perpetrated against someone’s will. This includes any act which is a person is coerced and manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity, including when s/he is unable to consent due to age, illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
There are many acts included within the definition of sexual violence which include incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse marital or partner rape, exposure, voyeurism, and sexual harassment in the workplace.
It can affect both males and females throughout their lives, without discriminating based on age, gender, religion, social class, ethnicity, or community background.
Each survivor is unique and reacts to sexual violence in a variety of ways. Some may report the incident right away whilst others feel too afraid to tell anyone. There are many complex reasons why people do not choose to tell, and this must be treated with respect and understanding.
The effect of sexual violence can result in both acute and chronic debilitating consequences, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety and can grossly affect relationships with others. The person may become dependent on substances to numb out the effects, they may withdraw and become isolated and sadly some may also feel suicidal and feel unable to continue with life.
These effects may happen immediately after the event or may be triggered by other events many years later. This can be confusing and bewildering for the survivor and make it even harder to reach out for help.
If you or someone you know has experienced rape or any other form of sexual assault including harassment and intimidation you may find the links I have attached useful.
NHS Help after rape and sexual assault
Metropolitan Police. Support for Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault