What is sexual violence?

If you’ve been sexually assaulted it’s important to remember that is not your fault. Sexual violence is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens. In this section, we explain what sexual violence is and most importantly, how to access the many help and support services available across the Bradford district.

Sexual violence is where someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent and it can happen to anyone.

Sexual violence can happen to people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures, sexualities, faiths and ethnicities. This includes children, older people, LGBT+ people and disabled people. Those who sexually abuse can be acquaintances, family members, trusted individuals or strangers.

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What is consent?

Consent means saying “yes” to what happened. Being intoxicated, not being asked, saying nothing, or saying yes to something else, is not consent. Being in a relationship or married to someone is not consent.

It doesn’t matter if you have given consent to sex with that person in the past, or if you’re in a relationship with the other person – you still have the right to say no to sex with them.

Different forms of sexual violence.

Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. There are many different kinds, including: rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, forced marriage, so-called honour-based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), trafficking, sexual exploitation, and others.

In order to describe the different forms of sexual violence, the next section contains some explicit words that some may find difficult to read.

Rape or sexual assault:

Rape is when a person intentionally penetrates another’s vagina, anus or mouth with a penis, without the other person’s consent. Assault by penetration is when a person penetrates another person’s vagina or anus with any part of the body other than a penis, or by using an object, without the person’s consent.

Child sexual abuse:

Child sexual abuse is any situation when a child or young person is tricked or forced into any sexual contact/activity.

Intimate partner sexual assault:

This sexual violence is between couples and can include rape and sexual assault (as above) but it may also include non-contact abuse, such as being forced to look at pornographic material or being forced to engage in sexual acts with someone else.

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Unwanted sexual contact/touching:

Any sexual touching that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient is sexual violence and no one has the right to touch you in any way without your consent. Unwanted sexual contact or touching can happen anywhere – on your way to work, in work, on public transport, in clubs or bars. It can be a person groping or brushing up against someone else in a sexual manner, or deliberately touching or kissing someone without them wanting this to happen.

Sexual harassment

Here we list some examples of sexual harassment:

  • Making conditions of employment or advancement dependent on sexual favours, either explicitly or implicitly.
  • Physical acts of sexual assault.
  • Requests for sexual favours.
  • Verbal harassment of a sexual nature, including jokes referring to sexual acts or sexual orientation.
  • Unwanted touching or physical contact.
  • Unwelcome sexual advances.
  • Discussing sexual relations/stories/fantasies at work, school, or in other inappropriate places.
  • Feeling pressured to engage with someone sexually.
  • Exposing oneself or performing sexual acts on oneself.
  • Unwanted sexually explicit photos, emails, or text messages.

Sexual exploitation

Sexual exploitation includes rape, prostitution, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting. Adults and children can be sexually exploited.

Showing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent:

It’s not a crime to send intimate images or videos of yourself privately to another person if you’re both consenting adults. It’s a crime to show intimate images or videos, send them to another person, upload them to a website, or threaten to do this, without your consent.

It is also illegal for someone to have sexual images of anyone under the age of 18. Sexual images might include if someone’s naked, in their underwear, or pictures of them doing sexual acts – including masturbating. It’s also illegal to share and send naked pictures or videos with other people. The important thing to remember is that this does include pictures of yourself – so you can be breaking the law by sending nudes if you’re under 18 and the person receiving them is also doing something illegal by saving them.

Indecent exposure

Indecent exposure refers to the act of purposefully displaying or revealing one’s genitals, or sexually pleasuring oneself, in a public place or in view of one or more members of the general public. The offence is sometimes informally referred to as “flashing”.


Voyeurism is when someone gets sexual pleasure from watching, photographing or recording others doing something that’s usually private, for example when they’re naked or having sex. Voyeurism is an offence if it is done without the person’s permission.

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but there’s no medical reason for this to be done. It’s also known as female circumcision or cutting, and by other terms, such as Sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others.


Specialist support services

Here is an easy read version about sexual violence by Bradford Rape Crisis – https://bradfordrapecrisis.org.uk/easy-read.php

Bradford Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Survivors Service
0800 448 0710
Free specialist sexual violence support services for women and girls (predominantly those 13 and over) who have experienced any form of sexual violence at any time in their lives. This includes rape, sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse, forced marriage and so-called honour-based violence, female genital mutilation, trafficking and sexual exploitation.

  • Counselling and emotional support
  • Independent Sexual Violence Advisors
  • Jyoti specialist services for Black, Asian & racially Minoritised women & girls
  • Girls & Young Women’s Services
  • Advocacy & Support for asylum seeking & trafficked women
  • Sexual Violence prevention work
  • Supporting survivors to be leaders in the response to sexual violence

Survive and Thrive
0808 2800 999
Survive and Thrive is a partnership of Staying Put, Family Action and WomenCentre. The service is designed to help anyone who has experienced domestic abuse. They can help with:

  • Emergency safe refuge and dispersed accommodation in Bradford
  • Short and long-term support services
  • Specialist support for survivors and recovery support groups.

They also have a helpline called the One Front Door. You can call the free helpline on 0808 2800 999. It is open Monday to Friday, 9:30am – 4:30pm.
There is an online live chat available Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. This is available to access on the Staying Put website.

There is an online live chat available Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. This is available to access on the Staying Put website.

Ben’s place at Survivors West Yorkshire
07393 140 250
Specialise support for men who have suffered sexual abuse
Connects survivors and their supporters to professional services that work well for them
Their focus is on internet support whilst exploring and developing new off-line options for survivors.

Victim Support
0300 303 1971
They give free and confidential support to people who have been affected by crime in West Yorkshire. They are an independent charity, and they can be contacted for support regardless of whether the police have been involved, and no matter how long ago the crime took place.

Breaking the silence
01274 497535 – open 3pm-8pm – Monday to Thursday
Or email them at info@breaking-the-silence.org.uk
Breaking the Silence provides a completely confidential service for men of Asian, African and African-Caribbean origin, aged 13 and over. Their experienced counsellors are qualified in a range of therapies and they are members of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP).

The Lotus Project
Call 01274 723 863 or email info@thebridgeproject.org.uk
The Lotus Project is a specialist support service for anybody (aged 18+) living in the Bradford Metropolitan District who is involved, or at risk of being involved in, sex work. Their team of high skilled support staff provide a wide range of confidential community outreach interventions.

Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)
Cakk 0330 223 0099 (24/7/365) or email hazlehurstcentre.sarc@nhs.net (monitored 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday).

SARC offers free, confidential healthcare and compassionate support to anyone in West Yorkshire that has experienced sexual assault or rape in their lifetime. Services are based on individual needs and anyone needing support can choose to use as much or as little of their service.

Visitors need an appointment before attending the SARC in person. Please call us to make an appointment

Here is an easy read version about sexual violence by Bradford Rape Crisis – https://bradfordrapecrisis.org.uk/easy-read.php