Sexual Violence and Abuse

Sexual violence and abuse is a crime. It can be defined as any behavior perceived to be of a sexual nature which is unwanted and takes place without consent or understanding. Child Sexual Exploitation is also a form of sexual abuse. For further information on child sexual exploitation go to

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Sexual violence and abuse can happen to anyone. It doesn't matter what age, gender, race or sexuality they are. However, it is NEVER their fault.

This crime is often committed by someone the victim knows. Sometimes it can be committed by a stranger.


Sexual violence and abuse involves forcing someone to take part in sexual activities against their consent or understanding. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material; watching sexual activities; encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways; and offences relating to downloading to child abuse images.

Rape is when a male intentionally penetrates the vagina, mouth or anus of another person, male or female (including wife or civil partner), with his penis, without that persons consent or understanding. This offence can only be committed by a male. However, while a female cannot commit the offence of 'Rape', a female can commit other serious sexual offences.

'Sexual Assault' is when a person, male or female, touches another person without that persons consent or understanding. Touching covers all physical contact, whether with a part of the body or anything else or through clothing.

For further information on the law go to

See also:

If you, or someone you know has been the victim of sexual violence or abuse, whether recently or in the past, or if you are the parent of a child this has happened to:

  • Report the matter directly to the police service on ‘101’ the non-emergency number, and you will be put in contact with a specially trained police officer who will speak to you confidentially, or
  • In an emergency situation dial the police emergency number ‘999’
  • Alternatively you may contact ‘The Rowan’ on free phone helpline 0800 389 4424, a specialist regional centre for victims of sexual violence that offers support and a range of medical services. The Rowan can also assist you in reporting the matter to the police service, if you have not already done so. For more information go to

It is important to tell us what has happened so that we can try and prevent the same thing happening to you again to someone else.

Whilst it is our responsibility to investigate your allegation, your welfare will always come first. In some cases we may ask for you to be examined by a specially trained Doctor. You will be asked to give consent for the medical examination to go ahead. Often this medical examination will take place in a special facility, or at times in a hospital or other medical setting. The purpose of the examination is to make sure that you get any medical help you need and, as well, too look for evidence that may help us identify the person responsible. You may be called to give evidence in a criminal trial. If so there will be special measures in place if this is to happen. You will also receive support by, for example, Victim Support Northern Ireland or the NSPCC Young Witness Serivce, and will be given help to go through your evidence by one of the legal people, otherwise known as a prosecuting barrister.

Concerned by Your Behaviour or Someone Else’s?

If you are concerned by your own thoughts or behavior, or the behavior of someone else close to you, contact STOP IT NOW! UK & IRELAND on telephone 0808 1000 900 or by emailing

Support Agencies

Listed below are the main details of Support Agencies in Northern Ireland. Please see their websites for more localised information and support.

Are you a Support Agency?

If you would like your details added, please fill out our form and we will be in touch to verify your details

Name of Support Agency
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