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Sexual abuse and relationships

Today we are looking at the issue of sexual abuse within relationships.  Rape and sexual assault are often part of a wider pattern of domestic abuse. Sexual abuse is another way of exerting control over the relationship.  There are also misconceptions about what is acceptable or ‘OK’ within a relationship.  Unfortunately this also means that incidence of rape and sexual assault within relationships are more likely to go unreported than those committed by strangers.

The truth is any situation in which an individual is forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse and is illegal. 

Some of myths around sexual abuse in relationships include:

It isn’t rape, we’re married: Being married does not give your partner any right to force you into having sex or engaging in any sexual activity without your consent. If this happens, it is still rape or sexual assault and your partner can be prosecuted.

It isn’t rape, we were on a date: Date rape’ isn’t a specific offence but you might hear the term used to describe rape when the survivor and perpetrator are known to each other, for example if they’re friends or are dating.  The person raped may be drugged and unable to give consent. It doesn’t matter if you knew the person who raped you — sex without consent is rape.

It isn’t abuse, because I consented: If you have consented because you were frightened of what would happen if you did not, whether that was physical violence to you, to your children or threats of removal of financial support it is still sexual abuse.

Research conducted by SARSAS in 2016 showed that more than one in five women are raped by their partners or their husbands. 

 This film, produced by Leicestershire Police, challenges our preconceptions. Please note, it is 15 rated.

Remember that what has happened is not your fault.  You are not to blame and there is help for you. There is help available at: