Sexual Abuse

Any unwanted intimate or sexual contact is sexual abuse. The definitions of rape and sexual assault vary depending on where you live in the UK. Regardless of what definitions your experiences meet, the impact can be just as destructive. Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, not a stranger.


Rape (Scotland): The definition of rape in Scotland only extends to penetration of the vagina, mouth or anus by a penis. This definition means that a man can only be raped by another man, but not a woman. Penetration by anything other than a penis is defined as a sexual assault by penetration.


Sexual Assault by Penetration (Scotland): This is where the victim’s vagina or anus is penetrated is another part of the body (e.g. fingers) or an object (e.g. sex toy, bottle).


Sexual Assault (Scotland): Sexually touch the victim, engage in any other form of sexual activity which results in physical contact with the victim, directly, through clothing, with a part of the body or an object, or ejaculate semen onto the victim or urinate or emit saliva onto the victim sexually.


Under the criminal law in Scotland, a man can only be raped by another man. Non-consensual intercourse between a man and a woman (where the man does not consent) would be defined as a ‘sexual assault’ or ‘sexual assault by penetration’ depending on the circumstances. Despite these different definitions, any kind of sexual assault can have equally devastating consequences.


Other forms of sexual abuse might include:

- Sexual coercion (forcing someone to have sex with another person)

- Forcing someone to engage in unsafe sexual activity

- Sending indecent or explicit communications

- Ridiculing sexual performance or behaviour in public

- Using sexually derogatory language



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