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Rape and sexual assault

Under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 rape is defined as "penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth by the penis without consent" however, there is a range of sexual assault and abuse which does not fit with this legal definition of rape. These can be just as distressing and have just as much of an impact.

Rape can happen to both men and women and is punishable by up to life imprisonment. Sexual violence can happen to anyone, no one ever deserves or asks for it to happen and if it has happened to you, you are not to blame.

When someone sexually touches another person without their permission, this is known as sexual assault and is also punishable by a prison sentence. 

It does not matter whether the two people concerned know each other or not or whether they happen to be in a relationship (see below). They may be forced by violence or verbal threats or it may take place when they are unable to give consent (for example because  alcohol or drugs have been involved).

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you should call the police or contact  Rape Crisis Scotland.

Rape by someone you know

Rape or sexual assult by someone you know (sometimes called "date rape") is just as serious as rape by a stranger.  Just because you have had sex with someone before, or are in relationship or married to them, doesn't mean you have to have sex with them if you don't want to. If someone forces you to have sex, what ever their relationship to you, then they have committed rape.

The penalties for rape by someone you know are the same as for rape by a stranger.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted you should call the police or contact Rape Crisis Scotland.

Consent

You must give your consent (permission) every time you have sex (or for any other sexual act), if someone tries to have sex without your consent, this is rape.

If a person is unable to give their consent at the time because they are under the influence of drink or drugs then a rape has taken place. You cannot give your consent if you are unconcious or asleep or threatened with violence.

You have the right to withdraw your consent (change your mind) at any point, if you do change your mind then the other person must stop.

It is a serious offence to carry out a sexual act without consent. You should NEVER pressure anyone into something they don't want to do and if they say 'no' you must respect that.

For more information on sexual assult and rape visit Rape Crisis Scotland