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About sexual violence

Sexual violence is any form of sexual contact that you don't freely agree to.

Contact includes more than just physical touch, it can also include any kind of sexual or sexualised interaction that you don't want or agree to. This may include unwanted messages and online harassment, stalking, inappropriate sexual questions in the workplace and much more. It also includes physical contact such as sexual assault and rape.

You may hear different words for sexual violence such as rape, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or street harassment. Other forms of sexual violence include stalking, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, and organised and ritual abuse.

Sexual violence is common. Anyone can experience it, at any age. It is difficult to know how many because many people have been affected because many never tell anyone and rarely report it to the police.

Although sexual violence often goes unreported, in Shetland in 2014/15, the police recorded 30 sexual crimes. Sexual crimes include rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, crimes associated with prostitution and other forms of sexual coercion.

Everyone is affected differently by sexual violence. This is no right or wrong way to feel. How you feel, and what you want to do, depend on your own experience.

You are not to blame

Whatever you may feel now or whatever happened, you are not to blame. If someone has harmed you, it is not your fault. Whoever harmed you is responsible. Sexual violence does not ‘just happen’. A person commits sexual violence because, at some level, they decide to do so. They had a choice about what they did.

This person (or people) may be complete stranger. But they are more likely to be someone known such as a family member, partner, work colleague, or some other acquaintance.

Although there are different forms of sexual violence, the effects are similar because the experience is frightening, shocking and can be confusing and difficult to cope with. This is partly because of the abuse itself. But it is also because there may be other factors which make a distressing or frightening experience much worse.

You do not have to cope with this on your own. Shetland Rape Crisis provides non-judgmental, free and confidential support and information. We will listen to what you say, believe you and treat you with respect.

It is possible to heal from rape and sexual violence. Shetland Rape Crisis is here for you.