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About sexual violence

Sexual violence means any form of unwanted sexual contact. You may hear different words for sexual violence such as rape or sexual assault or childhood sexual abuse or sexual 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 never tell anyone and many do not report it to the police.

Although sexual violence often goes unreported, in Dumfries and Galloway in 2014/15, the police recorded 314 sexual crimes. Sexual crimes include rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, crimes associated with prostitution and other forms of sexual coercion.

Last year over 250 survivors contacted us for support.

No right or wrong way to feel

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

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 a 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 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. South West Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre offers non-judgemental 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. We can help with this.

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