Did you know

  • 1 in 6 children are sexually abused.
  • Childhood sexual abuse is epidemic…
  • Up to 7.7 million adults in the UK have suffered sexual abuse as a child. This is 15% of the adult population.

Victims of childhood sexual abuse are the largest client group that access specialist rape and sexual abuse support services. Childhood sexual abuse occurs more often and more widely than people realise. Most childhood sexual abuse takes place in the home and the perpetrator is usually known to the victim and their family.

Rape question

  • 12,654 rapes were reported in 2007-8
  • 68,156 rapes have been reported in the last 5 years

Rape of men, women and children continues to be one of the most under-disclosed and under-reported crimes. Only 20% of rapes are reported to the police. As few as one in fifteen (6%) of reported rapes will result in a conviction and victims continue to feel isolated, unsafe and under-supported in coming forward. Many victims stay silent forever. (Survivors Trust)

Rape incurs an estimated cost of £73,000 per case in health services and lost productivity. (Tackling Sexual Violence: Guidance for Local Partnerships, June 2006, Home Office)

What do all the words and phrases used to talk about rape and sexual abuse mean?

As with any sensitive subject, there are always terms and phrases that we don’t know or need to know. As such, in order to help you we have compiled a list of terms, to help you navigate your way through the subject…

Abuse – Any action that intentionally harms or injures another person. In short, someone who purposely harms another in any way is committing abuse.

Abuser –  A person who treats another person cruelly.

Child Abuse – Child abuse is any action by another person – adult or child – that causes significant harm to a child.

It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can just as often be about a lack of love, care and attention. It often happens over a period of time, rather than being a one-off event.

Domestic Abuse – Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass but is not limited to, a combination of psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse.

This definition also includes so-called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

It does not matter whether the perpetrator shares the same residence as the victim(s), whether they are related, or whether they are currently or formerly married, separated or divorced. Children can be victims of domestic violence even as witnesses to violence against someone else in the household.   

Economic Abuse – Often used interchangeably with Financial Abuse.

Emotional Abuse – Abuse that is characterised by subjecting another person to psychological trauma, including anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It may involve, bullying, gas-lighting or other methods of creating a power imbalance. Can also be referred to as psychological abuse.

FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) – The ritual cutting of a female’s genitals in what is sometimes considered “female circumcision”. This practice is illegal in the United Kingdom and is classified as abuse by the United Nations and most western countries.

Financial Abuse- Exerting control over a person by controlling their finances, removing any independence or autonomy and creating financial reliance. May also involve controlling future earning potential by preventing the person from getting a job or education.

Physical Abuse- The use of physical force to intentionally harm another person.

Psychological Abuse – See Emotional Abuse.

Rape – Sexual penetration carried out against another person without enthusiastic consent. The act may be committed by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or on a person who is not able to consent, as when incapacitated, unconscious, below the age of consent, or has an intellectual disability.

Sexual Abuse- Undesired sexual behaviour by one person to another. This is often carried out by force or be taking advantage of the other person. This term is generally used when the sexual behaviour is regular or over a prolonged period of time.

Sexual Assault- Any unwanted sexual behaviour that a person has not consented to. This can range from rape to voyeurism or exhibitionism, to unwanted touching above or under clothes.

Sexual Violence- Similar in nature to Sexual Abuse, but this term is more often used to describe brief or single incidences, such as if sexually assaulted by a stranger.

Survivor-  person who carries on in the face of adversity, surviving in spite of trauma. Can be used interchangeably with victim.

Victim – A person who has been subject to harm. Can be used interchangeably with survivor.