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It can be hard to come to terms with what happened and even harder to understand how it is defined in the law. Here are the most current definitions of sexual violence in the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
The long-term effects of sexual violence (whether that is childhood sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape etc.) can include many emotional, psychological and physical conditions. The experience of sexual assault or abuse at any age and whether male or female can have devastating effects on every aspect of a person’s being and life – on their mind, their body, their behaviour, thoughts and feelings.
Sexual violence and abuse is any behaviour of a sexual nature which is unwanted and takes place without consent or understanding. This includes rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, childhood sexual abuse, female genital mutilation and more.
When someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted or abused, it can be a lot to handle. A supportive reaction is essential to diminish any shame or blame the survivor usually takes on after abuse. Encouraging words and phrases can avoid judgement and show support for the survivor.