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Harmful Sexual Behaviour & Abuse in Relationships

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature’; it has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity and can cause the victim to feel intimidated and humiliated. Sexual harassment can happen on and offline and can include:

  • sexual jokes or provocation
  • sexual comments, including sexualised nicknames, sexual remarks about appearance, and personal or anecdotal sexual stories
  • deliberately brushing up against someone
  • non-consensual display or sharing of sexual drawings or photos
  • the consensual or non-consensual sharing of nudes or semi-nudes, as when this material depicts or is exchanged between under-18s, it is illegal
  • sharing any unwanted explicit content, such as pornography
  • upskirting
  • sexualised online bullying or unwanted messages on social media
  • sexual exploitation, coercion, and threats via messaging or social media.

 

A 2021 YouGov survey carried out by UN Women UK found that 97% of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed and that only 4% of women report incidents of sexual harassment, while an overwhelming 96% remain dubious about the UK authorities’ capacity to handle an incident like this. Around 45% of the women who would not report sexual harassment in the UK say that it is because nothing would really change.

The law on sexual harassment

The Equality Act 2010 protects people against sexual harassment and harassment related to ‘protected characteristics’, for example a person’s sex.

Sexual harassment is prohibited in all workplace contexts and educational settings. Employers and education providers must do all that they reasonably can to protect their staff and learners from sexual harassment and take steps to prevent it happening. There can be an overlap between behaviour that constitutes sexual harassment and criminal offences, including sexual assault, indecent exposure, stalking and offensive communications. If you believe that a criminal offence may have been committed, then this should be reported to the police as soon as possible.

 

What action can I take?

  • Seek advice from Manager/Human Resources Department/Trade Union Representative
  • Make a formal complaint
  • Apprenticeship Training Provider – we encourage learners to report all incidents of sexual harassment to the Designated Safeguarding Lead or a member of the Capella team that you feel comfortable speaking to. All reports will be taken seriously; Sexual harassment is never acceptable and will not be tolerated.
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Sexual Violence

The term “sexual violence” is an all-encompassing, non-legal term; it refers to crimes involving unwanted sexual acts or activity, including:

  • rape
  • abusive sexual contact
  • sexual assault

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides a more detailed list of what constitutes as an offence: Sexual Offences Act 2003 (legislation.gov.uk).

Anyone, of any gender or sexual orientation, can be subjected to sexual violence.

Sexual violence can be perpetrated by a stranger or by someone known and even trusted, including a friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner.

Rape Crisis England and Wales have published results from a recent survey which show that 1 in 4 women have been raped or sexually assaulted as an adult; 1 in 6 children have been sexually abused and 1 in 20 men have been raped or sexually assaulted as an adult.

 

Consent

The law defines consent as ‘free agreement’. In order to engage in sexual activity, consent must be given. Consent means that all people involved in sexual activity agree to take part by choice and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Consent can be withdrawn at any time and should never be presumed.

The following video explains consent: Tea and Consent

 

What action can I take?

Many cases of sexual abuse never come to light. According to the Office of National Statistics, fewer than 1 in 6 reported sexual assault to the police.

40% of victims stated they were too embarrassed to report the assault; 38% did not think the police could help, and 34% thought it would be humiliating.

Whether or not you go to the police should always be your choice, but at Capella we encourage you to report any concerns/incidents of harmful sexual behaviour; all reports will be taken seriously. Sexual abuse is never acceptable and will not be tolerated.

Sexting

‘Sexting’ is when someone sends or receives a sexually explicit text, image or video on their mobile phone, computer or tablet. It can include sexual chat or requests for pictures/images of a sexual nature. As well as possible legal implications, there are also instances where such content gets into the wrong hands and is spread widely across the internet.

A recent phenomenon that is occurring more frequently is revenge porn. This is the distribution or sharing of private and personal images or video content of an individual without their consent and with the intention to humiliate.

 

The law on sexting

To determine whether sexting is illegal, the following must be taken into consideration: what the image is or what the chat involves and who it is sent between. However, it is a crime to possess, take, make, distribute or show anyone an indecent or abuse image of a child or young person under 18 years of age. Always remember that, while the age of consent is 16, the relevant age in relation to indecent images is 18.

Revenge porn was made a specific offence in 2015 by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. The Act specifies that if you are accused of revenge porn and then found guilty, the defendant could face up to two years imprisonment.

 

Scenarios

If a sexually explicit picture/image of an adult is sent between adults or sexually explicit text/chat between adults, there is no sexual offence. However, if the picture/image/text is unwanted then there may be other offences such as harassment or blackmail to consider.

If a child (under 18 years of age) takes a sexually explicit image of themselves, then that child has committed an offence by making and possessing that image. If that child then sends the image to another person, then the child has committed a further offence of distributing the image and the person who receives the image will also be liable for an offence of possessing the image.

If sexting occurs between an adult and a child under 18, the laws are considerably more serious; the adult is automatically deemed to be breaking the law and this must be referred to the police.

 

What action can I take?

  • Contact local police on 101 to report a concern/for advice and guidance
  • Seek advice from Manager/Human Resources Department/Trade Union Representative
  • Apprenticeship Training Provider – we encourage learners to report all incidents to the Designated Safeguarding Lead or a member of the Capella team that you feel comfortable speaking to. All concerns will be taken seriously.

 

 

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Peer-on-Peer Abuse

Children (ie those under the age of 18) can abuse other children. This is generally referred to as child-on-child or peer-on-peer abuse and can take many forms. It can happen both inside and outside of school/college and online. It is most likely to include (this list is by no means exhaustive):

  • Physical and sexual abuse
  • Sexual harassment and violence
  • Emotional harm
  • On and offline bullying
  • Teenage relationship abuse
  • Gang activity

 

Where child-on-child abuse is identified it should be recognised that such abuse is harmful to both the perpetrator and the victim, both of whom are children.

 

What action can I take?

  • Contact local police on 101 to report a concern/for advice and guidance
  • Report abuse to Manager/Human Resources Department
  • Apprenticeship Training Provider – we encourage learners to report all incidents of peer-on-peer abuse to the Designated Safeguarding Lead or a member of the Capella team that you feel comfortable speaking to

 

 

Abuse in Relationships

Abusive behaviour in relationships, including criminal behaviour, can be subtle and may be justified as being about love or care. However, there is no justification for relationship abuse, and it is never part of a healthy relationship.

 

Controlling Behaviour

This is a form of harmful behaviour in a relationship aimed at making someone subordinate and/or dependent. For example, by:

  • isolating them from sources of support
  • depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape
  • exploiting their resources and capabilities
  • regulating their everyday behaviour

 

Coercive Behaviour

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim.

 

Coercive control and the law

Under the Serious Crime Act, coercive control became illegal in England and Wales in December 2015. Controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or family relationships is an offence carrying a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, and/or a fine.

 

What action can I take?

  • Contact local police on 101 to report a concern/for advice and guidance
  • Disclose abuse to Manager/Human Resources Department
  • Apprenticeship Training Provider – we encourage learners to report all incidents of abuse to the Designated Safeguarding Lead or a member of the Capella team that you feel comfortable speaking to.

 

Key Contacts

Please report any concerns to our Designated Safeguarding Lead.

Capella Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)   
Kate Smith, Managing Partner

Email:  kate.smith@capellaassociates.com

Phone: 07968 344764

Capella Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead (Deputy DSL)
Claire Hughes, Capella Quality and Commercial Manager

Email: Claire.hughes@capellaassociates.com

Phone: 07971 260517

Further Information and support

You may also find it helpful to know about national organisations that may be able to provide you with support, and we have listed a number of these below for your information. Please be aware that Capella has not conducted any due diligence on the organisations and as such, we can not vouch for or recommend their services.

Rights & Legal Advice

Acas

0300 123 1100

Citizens Advice

0800 144 8848 (England)

0800 702 2020 (Wales)

Rights of Women

020 7490 0152

Harmful Sexual Behaviour/ Abuse in Relationships

Rape Crisis

0808 802 9999

The Survivors Trust

08088 010 818

Refuge  (advice for women and children experiencing domestic abuse)

0808 2000 247

Respect  (advice for men experiencing domestic abuse)

0808 8010 327

Samaritans

jo@samaritans.org or 116 123

Sexting

Safer Internet Centre (Keeping children and young people safe)

See Website

Revenge Porn Helpline

0345 6000 459

Child Safety / Welfare

NSPCC Link

NSPCC Helpline: 0808 800 5000

Childline: 0800 1111

Safer Internet Centre (Keeping children and young people safe)

See Website

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