In light of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, we at Safer Places want to delve into what sexual abuse is and how to get help for victims.

Sexual violence is an overarching term used to describe unwanted sexual acts of any kind. This can range from catcalling to rape. It’s important to mention the term ‘sexual violence' is being moved away from, as the word ‘violence’ makes people assume the act must be violent; which isn’t true.

As a support worker, more and more women are telling me situations they have been in where they have experienced unwanted sexual acts. More often than not, they didn’t even realise it was abuse from their partner. Therefore, it is important to know what consent means.

The legal definition of consent is:

“Someone agrees to sexual activity by choice… and also that they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice”

Freedom meaning NOT forced, manipulated, threatened, pressured (physically or emotionally), coercively controlled, and with no consequences.

Capacity means having full mental capacity and understanding of sexual acts. No alcohol, drug, or mental health influences, and not when sleeping.

Did you know?

These situations are considered sexual abuse…

  • They get in a sulk (or similar) because you didn’t accept their sexual advances, causing you to then feel bad, so you have sex with them.
  • You consent to sex at first, but then decide you don’t want to and they don’t stop.
  • Them doing something sexual that you haven’t consented to.
  • Being drunk and unable to consent to sex.
  • Being asleep therefore unable to consent.

It is okay if you’re thinking back to a previous situation and looking at it differently now knowing the true meaning of consent. Many organisations will help and support you, no matter how long ago the abuse might have happened.

If you live in the Essex or Hertfordshire area, our 24/7 helpline number is 03301 025 811

We hear you, we believe you, we will help you!