Safe

Rape and sexual assault

Get the facts

If you or someone you know has been made to have sex without consenting or has been otherwise sexually assaulted, then it is important that you get help and advice.

Sexual assault is an extremely serious crime and you need to ensure you get the support you need.

We at the Metropolitan Police Service take investigations into rape and sexual assault very seriously. Officers have received specialist training to investigate these cases and provide victims with support and care. We work closely with The Havens, specialist NHS centres in London for people of all ages and gender identity who have been raped or seriously sexually assaulted. If someone feels unable to report an incident to the police, they can still go to The Havens and seek advice and support.

What is rape?

Rape is a very serious crime. Rape is when a man forces his penis into the vagina, anus or mouth of another person when that person doesn't want him to do so. The law calls this ‘without consent’.

What about sexual assault?

This is a crime that can be committed by both men and women against other men or women. Different types of sexual assault include:

  • objects or parts of the body (such as a finger) being put into someone's vagina or anus when that person didn't want it to happen
  • someone being made to sexually stimulate themselves using their hands or fingers (known as masturbation) or putting objects into their vagina or anus when they don't want to do it
  • someone being touched in a sexual way that makes him or her feel uncomfortable or frightened (this could be through their clothes - like bottom pinching)

The important bit to remember is that being pressurised or forced to have sex when you don't want to is a crime.

This information and lots more is provided on the Havens website. Take a look at their page specially designed for young people.

There are no excuses

It's important you know that:

  • there are no excuses for rape or sexual assault
  • if you are in a relationship with someone and they force you to have sex, or do something sexual against your will, it is still rape or sexual assault
  • rape and sexual assault are an abuse of power
  • no-one asks for it
  • no-one deserves it

It's important to remember that there are lots of organisations that help victims of rape and sexual assault. The Havens could be your first call, but others can be found on our ‘More help and advice’ page.

So why did this happen to you?

There is no easy answer to this. What we do know is that often, but not always, rape or sexual assault is committed by someone you trust. This could be a friend, family member, someone you are in a relationship with or someone you know at school.

It is very important that anyone who commits rape or sexual assault gets reported and investigated. The only way they will be stopped from doing it again is if the police know who they are.

Myths and facts about rape and sexual assault from The Havens

  • Myth: A person has agreed to sex if they say ‘yes’ under pressure for example gang initiation or to avoid circulation of photographs on social media sites.
  • Fact: A person needs to give real consent, not because they fear the consequences if they don’t.
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  • Myth: Most rapes are committed by strangers.
  • Fact: Most rapes are carried out by somebody you know and trust.
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  • Myth: Rape happens because of the way are you dressed.
  • Fact: Rape has nothing to do with what you wear. Nobody has the right to have sex with you without your consent.
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  • Myth: People who are drunk are partly to blame for being raped.
  • Fact: The only person to blame is the person who raped you. Being drunk doesn't give anyone the right to hurt you.
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  • Myth: Rape doesn't happen to boys.
  • Fact: This is not true - boys can also be raped. Rape is sex without consent regardless of whether you are male or female.
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  • Myth: If your boyfriend forces you to have sex, it is not real rape.
  • Fact: If you have been forced to have sex by anyone, it is rape.
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  • Myth: When it comes to sex, some people say ‘no’; but they really mean ‘yes’.
  • Fact: No means no but sometimes people may be too frightened to say anything. This doesn't mean they are consenting to sex.
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  • Myth: A person has agreed to sex if they say ‘yes’ under pressure for example gang initiation or to avoid circulation of photographs on social media sites
  • Fact: A person needs to give real consent, not because they fear the consequences if they don't.
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Many cases of rape and sexual assault never get reported. This may be because:

  • they are worried about going to court
  • they are worried that they were somewhere they shouldn’t have been
  • they are worried that they had been drinking alcohol or taken drugs at the time

However, it is really important that rape or sexual assault is reported or that the victim seeks help as soon as they feel able to.

Also The Havens are specialist centres in London for people who have been raped or seriously sexually assaulted. If someone feels unable to report an incident to the police, the Havens can help to provide support and advice. They can help you recover, physically and emotionally from your ordeal.

Rape and sexual assault