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Ep 106 – Sexual violence (part 1)


Posted 23 May 2024

Dr James Waldron, Hayley Wilson

Understanding sexual violence is vitally important in primary care. A GP may be the first (or only) individual spoken to by a person who has experienced sexual violence. But how often does the experience disclosed represent the full scope of the issue? How much sexual violence goes unreported? What has changed about our understanding of sexual violence and its context? In this episode, the first of a series looking at this topic, Dr James Waldron speaks with Hayley Wilson (Consent and Sexual Violence Development Officer at Nottingham Trent University) about the spectrum of problems related to sexual violence and the critical importance of understanding this topic and responding well from the outset.

Key references

  1. Office for National Statistics. Sexual offences in England and Wales overview: year ending March 2022. 23 March 2023.
  2. Rape Crisis England & Wales. Rape and sexual assault statistics. 2023.
  3. The Crown Prosecution Service. Key facts about how the CPS prosecutes allegations of rape. 19 October 2020.

Key take-home points

  • Sexual violence can be a range of issues from inappropriate touching, to imaged based violence to rape. “Violence” in this context relates to “violation”.
  • Get used to talking about sexual violence, breaking the taboo – build confidence in talking about it and imbue our patients.
  • One of the most powerful things you can do for a patient is “listen”.
  • Sexual and domestic violence can overlap significantly. Domestic violence is perpetrated by family members or partners. Sexual violence has a broader range of situations – not always someone you know.
  • Context is important but cultural understanding of appropriate sexual encounters has changed over time.
  • Consent education is important, particularly for students to help them understand and navigate relationships when they are gaining independence and may be experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
  • People may feel violated by any aspect of sexual violence, particularly if repeated – it is not limited to assault or rape. It is important to believe and validate people’s experiences.
  • Sexual violence is often under-reported, under-recognised and difficult to prosecute, with a low conviction rate.
  • People who are subjected to sexual violence may consider themselves to blame.
  • The way you respond to a disclosure is vitally important for the rest of their journey.
  • Take home points – update and educate yourself, and challenge what you know about sexual violence.

Useful links

  1. Everyone’s Invited.
  2. Rape Crisis England & Wales.
  3. Notts SVS Services.
  4. The Survivors Trust. Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC).
  5. NHS. Find rape and sexual assault referral centres.
  6. Survivors UK.
  7. The Topaz Centre.
  8. Equation.
  9. Juno Women's Aid.
  10. East Midlands Children and Young People’s Sexual Assault Service.
  11. The Nottingham Consent Coalition.
  12. The Crown Prosecution Service.
  13. End Violence Against Women Coalition.
  14. Mothers of Sexually Abused Children.
  15. National Association for People Abused in Childhood.
  16. Victims First.
  17. Channel 4.


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