What is rape?

All types of rape and sexual assault are serious. The terms rape and ‘sexual assault’ are two different types of offence but Devon & Cornwall SARC can help advise you about both. So what’s the difference?

What is rape?

Rape is when a person intentionally uses their penis to penetrate another person’s body without their agreement. It could be penetration of a vagina, anus or mouth with a penis and could happen to a man, a woman or a child. It takes place without their consent.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault (also sometimes called indecent assault) is “an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation in the form of a sexual act, inflicted on someone without their consent”. It can also involve forcing or manipulating someone to watch or take part in any sexual acts.

Sexual assault also includes ‘assault by penetration’. This is when someone penetrates another person’s vagina or anus with anything except a penis (penetration with a penis is rape) without their consent. This could include any part of the body or an object.

Not all sexual assault involves violence or injury and quite often victims of sexual assault will have no visible marks.

If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted

If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, we can help. You can report the assault to police by calling 999 or 101, or you can contact us directly by calling 0300 3034626, or by submitting an online referral form and we will call you back at a time you specify. You may need time to think about what has happened to you however, consider getting medical help as soon as possible, because you may be at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

If you want the crime to be investigated, the sooner a forensic medical examination takes place, the better the outcome. After 7 days forensic evidence can no longer be gathered, although we can still help you in other ways.