Sexual assault and abuse

Sexual assault and abuse are terms used to describe a broad range of physical, visual and verbal sexual activities, which are unwanted and take place without consent.

Sexual assault and abuse can be a one-off event or happen repeatedly. In some cases it involves the use of technology, such as the internet or social media. Abuser can be strangers, but are often people known to you such as partners, ex-partners, friends or family members.

Watch the below video which has been produced by MESARCH (research supporting best practice in Sexual Assault Referral Centres) to see what domestic violence and abuse can look and sound like and how you can intervene:

What are you doing?

Sexual assault and abuse comes in many forms and below are an example of different forms of sexual abuse and assault.

Types of sexual abuse

  • Rape, attempted rape or sexual assault
  • Inappropriate touch anywhere on the body (above or below clothing)
  • Non-consensual masturbation of either or both persons
  • Non-consensual sexual penetration (with object or body part) or attempted penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth
  • Any sexual activity that the person lacks the capacity to consent to (this may be because of learning difficulties, disabilities, mental health needs or the influence of alcohol or substances for example)
  • Voyeurism (inappropriate looking/watching), sexual teasing or innuendo or sexual harassment
  • Sexual photography or forced use of pornography or witnessing of sexual acts
  • Taking a picture under another person’s clothing without their knowledge, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks (with or without underwear- often referred to as up skirting)
  • Offline  and online distribution of private sexual images of someone without their consent
  • Indecent exposure
  • Any sexual activity (contact or non-contact) with minors, whether consensual or not
  • Incest (Sexual intercourse or sexual intrusion between family members.)

If this has happened to you, it is important to remember that it is not your fault. No-one asks or deserves to be raped or assaulted. Sexual assault and abuse are criminal offences, and the blame always lies with the abuser.

If you have a question about sexual abuse you can find FAQs at

Help and support

In an emergency contact the police on 999.

Rape and Sexual Violence Project (RSVP)

The Rape and Sexual Violence Project (RSVP) provides support for women, children and men who have experienced rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse.

Support is available whether the abuse happened recently or years ago, and whether or not you choose to report what happened to the police.

We can never take away what happened, but there is life after rape and sexual abuse. Please read on to find out how we can help.

Call: 0121 643 0301

Horizon Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)

Horizon Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) provides people who have experienced rape and sexual assault within the West Midlands with support and advice to assist in their recovery.  They aim to provide you with information about the options available to you and will support you in the decisions that you make.

The SARC is a dedicated service available for adults and covers the area of the West Midlands including Solihull and Birmingham.

Contact details: 24/7 Self-referral line 0800 970 0375

Horizon also provide advice and online resources to for professionals to help offer the right support and advice to their clients.

Mountain healthcare

Mountain Healthcare has a 24/7 dedicated service with specialist trained staff to support and assist children and young people aged 17 and under who has experienced sexual assault and abuse, either recently or in the past.

Appointment have to be made in advance. They accept direct referrals from individuals and families, and referrals on their behaviour from professionals.

Contact details: 0808 196 2340 (freephone)

Abuse survivors clinic (ASC)

ASC are run in Birmingham and Solihull at open to anybody who has experienced sexual assault and abuse at any time.

The clinics offer confidential specialist support and access to a sexual health check-up, contraception and a Hepatitis B vaccination.

Contact 0121 237 5737 for an appointment.

Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid

Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid provide confidential help and advice for women who experience sexual assault and abuse alongside domestic abuse.