Types of sexual violence

When people think of sexual violence, they often think of dark alleys late at night, but in fact fewer than 9% of rapes are committed by strangers – see our myths & facts page. In fact, sexual abuse can include any of the following things, and more:

Child abuse

Sexual violence of a young person, this includes child sexual exploitation (CSE) and others forms of abuse of those aged 18 and under see our page on children and young people.

Domestic abuse

Violence within an intimate or family relationship, usually between people who live together. See our page on domestic violence.

Female genital mutilation

Also known as female genital cutting or female circumcision. Forward UK estimate that 6,500 girls each year are at risk of pseudo-medical interventions which carry no medical purpose, can be deeply traumatic and carry a wide range of health risks.

Forced marriage

This is an arranged marriage where one or both parties do not consent to being married. The ‘force’ involved can be physical, financial, sexual or emotional.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment occurs when someone receives unwanted sexual attention. This unwanted attention can take the form of speech, non-verbal interaction or different sorts of physical contact. See our page on sexual harassment.

Online bullying

Such as people sharing pictures of you without your consent, or unwanted sexual comments and messages.

Ritual abuse

Organised and systematic abuse, often as part of indoctrination into a cult-like society.


It is difficult to define stalking because stalkers use so many different methods to harass and intimidate. Stalking occurs when a person or a group of people adopt a pattern of behaviour that leaves another person feeling fearful, harassed, or anxious. See our page on stalking.

Threats of sexual violence

This includes threats made online, or face to face.

Trafficking and sexual exploitation

Human trafficking involves recruitment, harbouring or transporting people into a situation of exploitation through the use of violence, deception or coercion and forced to work against their will.

In other words, trafficking is a process of enslaving people, coercing them into a situation with no way out, and exploiting them.

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