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Rape and sexual offences

This advice applies to Scotland

Find out where you can get help if you've been raped or have experienced another type of sexual offence. You don't have to cope on your own. There are many support services that can help you.

What is rape

Rape is a criminal offence. It's defined as when a person uses their penis to penetrate another person without that person's consent. Victims of rape can be male or female.

A man can be charged with raping his wife or partner whether or not they're living together.

Rape doesn't include penetration by the fingers or an object, but anyone who does this could be charged with sexual assault by penetration. This offence is as serious as rape.

The maximum penalty for rape is life in prison.

Other sexual offences

Other sexual offences include sexual assault and helping someone else to commit rape.

You might find it helpful to understand the legal definitions of consent and the different sexual offences. The charges that can be made depend on the nature of the attack.

Get more information about rape and sexual assault on the Scottish government website.

Reporting rape or sexual assault to the police

It might be difficult to report a rape or sexual assault to the police. Before you make a decision, you might want to get specialist advice from an organisation like Rape Crisis Scotland.

Police Scotland has rape investigation units across Scotland. These units are staffed by specially trained officers. A sexual offences liaison officer will work with you to explain what the police investigation will involve.

You can contact the police by phoning 101. In an emergency, call 999.

There's information for victims of sexual crimes on the Police Scotland website.

Help after rape or sexual assault

A Forensic Medical Examination (FME) is part of the healthcare process after a rape or sexual assault. You can decide whether you want to have an FME. Find out more about forensic medical examinations and healthcare in the Scottish government guidance

If you've been raped or sexually assaulted, there are support services that can help you.

Rape Crisis Scotland

Rape Crisis Scotland operates a helpline that offers free and confidential support and information for anyone who has experienced any form of sexual violence at any time in their lives. Rape Crisis Scotland is the national office for a network of local rape crisis centres across Scotland.

Rape Crisis Scotland produces a range of useful information leaflets about rape and sexual assault, including information for family and friends and about childhood sexual abuse. These leaflets are available on the website.

Rape Crisis Scotland
3rd Floor
Abbey House
10 Bothwell Street
Glasgow
G2 6LU

Tel (General Enquiries): 0141 331 4180 (Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm)
Free Helpline: 08088 01 03 02 (every day 6pm to midnight)
Minicom: 0141 353 3091
For support by email: support@rapecrisisscotland.org.uk
General email: info@rapecrisisscotland.org.uk
Website: www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk

Scottish Women's Rights Centre

The Scottish Women's Rights Centre can offer legal advice and information to women in Scotland who are affected by any aspect of gender-based violence.

The centre has face-to-face legal clinics in local areas and a helpline which covers legal advice, sexual harassment and advocacy support.

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