Facts about Sexual Abuse and Harrasment & FAQ

1. Facts about Sexual Abuse and Harrasment

2. FAQ – What is Sexual assault
3. FAQ – What is Rape

1. Facts about Sexual Abuse and Harrasment

Facts UK

This briefing introduces the data available about child sexual abuse in UK .

Research provides estimates of the prevalence of sexual abuse.

Data is available on:

  • Children who are receiving support or are known to services because of sexual abuse;
  • The age and gender of children who experience sexual abuse and perpetrators of sexual abuse.
  • Statistics can help professionals, and the organizations they work for, make evidence based decisions about child sexual abuse.


What does the data tell us?

  • An estimated 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused.
  • Concerns around sexual abuse have been identified for over 2,700 children in the UK who are the subject of a child protection plan or on a child protection register.
  • Over a third of all police-recorded sexual offences are against children.
  • Girls and older children are more likely to experience sexual abuse.
  • The vast majority of children who experience sexual abuse were abused by someone they knew.
  • 8% of 11-17 year olds reported experiencing contact sexual abuse, as defined by the criminal law, at some point in childhood.
  • The Crime Survey for England and Wales in 2016 asked 20,582 adults aged 16-59 about their experiences of child sexual abuse before the age of 16.
  • 5% of women and 2.6% of men said they had experienced any form of sexual assault (including indecent exposure or unwanted touching).
  • 4% of women and 0.6% of men said they had experienced sexual assault by rape or penetration (including attempts)
  • These figures did not include sexual abuse by peers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Assault

Experiencing any form of sexual assault can leave a person with many questions. At the same time, friends and family may not feel prepared to answer those questions or might have queries themselves.

In this section we explain some of the frequently asked questions related to sexual assault, which you may find useful if you want to know more about these issues.

FAQ – What is Sexual assault

Sexual assault is any sexual act that is unwanted and that no consent has been given in which a person is threatened, coerced, forced to comply against their will or unable to give consent to the activity.

The activity or conduct may include threat, the use of physical force, the use of coercion or manipulation into agreeing, causing the other person’s intoxication or incapacitation to give consent (usually through the use of drugs or alcohol) or taking advantage of the other person’s voluntary intoxication.

Sexual assault is a form of sexual violence and can include unwanted, non-consensual touching and/or oral, anal or vaginal sexual intercourse, penetration with a foreign object (i.e. fingers, sex toys, etc.). This could be perpetrated by a person known by the victim or by a complete stranger.

To learn more about sexual assault visit our About These Issues page.

What is rape?

Rape is a form of sexual assault and happens when there is the actual non-consensual oral, anal or vaginal penetration of the victim by body parts or objects.

When the act is intentionally performed penetrating the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with the perpetrator’s penis, the UK law refers to it as rape. When the act is performed through a part of the perpetrator’s body rather than their penis or any foreign objects, the UK law refers to it as sexual assault by penetration.