Abusive sexual behaviour in an intimate relationship means forcing or pressurising you to do something sexually that you don't want to do.

This means any type of sexual activity without your consent, including:

  • the use of force, threatening or intimidating behaviour to make you perform sexual acts;
  • rape;
  • having sex with you against your wishes;
  • forcing you to look at pornographic material;
  • forcing you to have sex with other people;
  • any degrading treatment related to your sexuality;
  • the sending or receiving of sexually explicit images.

Sexual abuse in an intimate relationship is far more prevalent than people realise. For some of our clients, it is only one type of the abuse that they are experiencing. For others, it is the only type. Either way, it is deeply distressing if the person you are most intimate with abuses you in your sexual relationship.

Rape by a husband or intimate partner 

The law changed in 1991 to make rape in marriage illegal. Your partner must have consent from you before engaging in sexual activity. If he doesn't, it is rape, even if you are married. You have the right at all times to say no.

A judge's recent comments in court that it is a "fundamental human right" of a man to have sex with his wife, caused grave concern within organisations dedicated to ending violence against women. Read the response of Women's Aid here.

Sexual consent, whether in or outside of a relationship, is paramount. According to the Sexual Offences Act of 2003, someone gives consent when they agree by choice, and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. But saying 'yes' may not be giving true consent - in the context of an abusive relationship, you might be saying 'yes' because you feel coerced or afraid to say 'no'. Our Domestic Abuse Service will be able to help you explore this.

I have just been sexually assaulted or raped