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The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence.

An Oifig Náisiúnta um Fhoréigean Baile, Gnéasach agus Inscnebhunaithe a Chosc

  1. Learn More about Sexual Violence

Learn more about Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is any sexual act that is forced against someone's will.
Sexual violence occurs if you are forced to participate in a sexual act without your consent. It may include rape or other types of sexual assault. The force involved may take the form of threats, coercion or physical violence. Sexual assault is an act of violence. It is an invasion of physical and personal integrity.

Sexual Violence Definitions


Rape is defined as "unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman who at the time of intercourse does not consent to it", where the man "knows that she does not consent to the intercourse… or he is reckless as to whether she does or does not consent to it." Sexual intercourse for the purposes of rape means vaginal intercourse. Rape is by definition only committed when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent.

Rape under Section 4

This is defined as a sexual assault that includes "penetration (however slight) of the anus or mouth by the penis, or penetration (however slight) of the vagina by any objects held or manipulated by another person."

Aggravated Sexual Assault

This is sexual assault aggravated by serious violence, or the threat of serious violence, or is such as to cause severe injury, humiliation or degradation of a grave nature to the victim.

Sexual Assault

This is a sexual attack with a less serious level of violence than aggravated sexual assault. There are two parts to this offence: there must be intentional assault, and an aura of indecency.

What the Research Tells Us:

There is strong evidence that sexual violence is underreported in Ireland. The 2002 SAVI (Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland) Report found that:

  • 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 6 boys in Ireland experience contact sexual abuse in childhood
  • 42% of women and 28% of men experienced some form of sexual abuse or assault in their lifetime
  • 1% of males and 7.8% of females reported to An Garda Síochána

47% of those reporting abuse in SAVI had never told anybody
Source: McGee et al (2002)

We outline some options for those who have experienced sexual violence/assault elsewhere on this site.