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Breaking the Silence of Sexual Abuse and Violence

It can be difficult and painful to talk about sexual abuse and violence, but you’re not alone. If you reach out for help, there are lots of people and services that can support you and offer advice.

WARNING: Due to the nature of the subject, some of the content in this blog may not be suitable for some of our younger readers.

This blog is part of our No Shame No Secrets – Sexual Health and Wellbeing Campaign, where we look at many different elements of keeping yourself sexually healthy and safe. You’ll find links to all our campaign blogs here, and follow our social media channels to watch some fun videos (see links at bottom of blog).

What is sexual abuse and violence?

Sexual abuse and violence is any type of unwanted sexual act or activity. Sex has to be consensual – the other person has to have the freedom and capacity to be able to say yes (more about consent in our blog)

 Sexual violence can include:

  • Rape – when a person doesn’t consent to have sex
  • Sexual assault – when someone is touched in a sexual way or forced to take part in a sexual act without giving consent
  • Upskirting – taking a picture under someone’s clothes without them knowing
  • Sexual harassment – unwanted sexual behaviour towards someone that makes them feel upset, scared, offended or humiliated
  • Revenge porn – sharing sexual images or videos with others or publicly
  • Stalking – obsessing over someone, which can include following, interfering with their property or identity theft
  • Sex trafficking (human trafficking/modern slavery) – moving someone into, or around, the country to sexually exploit them using threats, false promises or fraud
  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – deliberately changing or removing a female’s genitals for cultural, religious or social reasons

Find out more about each of these on the UK Says No More website.

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Who is involved?

It can affect anybody, regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and background.

It could be carried out by a stranger, but most cases of sexual violence are carried out by someone you know. You can also be in a relationship when it happens. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean they can do anything to you whenever they want.

Finding a Safe Space

If you’re experiencing sexual or domestic abuse or violence, there are safe places to go to for help. Safe Spaces is a scheme that provides a safe place in over 7,000 banks, pharmacies and supermarkets in the UK. 

Anyone experiencing abuse or violence can go to a safe space and get support information. They can also help you call a helpline, support service, friends or family. Find your nearest Safe Space here.

Online Safe Spaces is an online portal where people can get support. It won’t show up on your browsing history. Click here to find out about Online Safe Spaces. 

Ask for ANI if you’re in immediate danger

You can Ask for ANI in many of the Safe Spaces in the UK. ANI is a code word for Action Needed Immediately and lets the person know you need immediate help. A staff member will take you to a private space where they can help you call the police, domestic abuse helpline, friends or family.

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Help for historic abuse

It doesn’t have to be recent abuse or violence for you to get help. Past experiences can still have a massive effect on you today. You’re still entitled to help and support. Check the further information links below to find the best service to help you.

Helping someone else

If you know of anyone who’s experiencing, or experienced, domestic abuse or sexual violence, then encourage them to talk to someone and seek help. Share this article and the links below with anyone who might need support. They may not even realise they need help.

You can also download the Bright Sky App. It provides support and information if you’re worried about someone. It can help you spot the signs of abuse and tells you the best way to respond and how to get support. 

Further information

  • No Shame No Secrets – Meic’s sexual health campaign
  • Live Fear Free – Helpline providing help and advice about violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence
  • Welsh Women’s Aid – charity in Wales working to end violence against women and girls 
  • Men’s Advice Line – helpline for male victims of domestic abuse
  • Galop – LGBT+ anti-abuse charity working with and for LGBT+ victims and survivors of abuse and violence
  • Survivors UK – provides counselling to support male and non-binary survivors of sexual abuse, assault or rape.
  • Rape Crisis – specialist information and support to those affected by rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and all other forms of sexual violence and abuse.  
  • NSPCC Sexual Abuse – Information about child sexual abuse, how to identify it and support a child who is a victim. 
  • NHS Wales – Rape and Sexual Abuse page
  • Safe Spaces – providing safe spaces for people experiencing domestic abuse. They will help you contact friends and family and specialist support services. Find your nearest Safe Space here.
  • Revenge Porn Helpline – supporting victims of revenge porn over 18
  • National Stalking Helpline – information, support, and advice for victims of stalking. They also have the Am I Being Stalked tool to see if what you’re experiencing is stalking
  • Modern Slavery Helpline – helping victims to get access to support services, reporting any concerns, and advice about abuse, exploitation or modern slavery
  • NSPCC FGM – advice and contact details for their FGM helpline
  • NSPCC Non-recent abuse – information and support for those abused when they were younger who are struggling to deal with what happened to them

Talk to Meic

Meic is the information, advice and advocacy helpline for children and young people across Wales. Contact Meic if you need to talk to someone about anything that’s worrying or upsetting you. It’s free, confidential and anonymous. The service is open from 8am – midnight every day, and you can contact them by phone, WhatsApp, text, or online chat