Acts that are defined as sexual violence include rape (penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth with a penis without consent), penetration of the vagina or anus by another part of the body or object without consent, intentional sexual touching without consent, causing a person to engage in sexual activity without their consent, recording or sharing intimate images of another person without their consent.

Sexual Violence is a form of Sexual Misconduct within universities, as defined by the Office for Students. Manchester Metropolitan University operates a zero tolerance policy to sexual violence and is committed to raising awareness and understanding of issues surrounding sexual consent.


The law states that a person consents if they “agree by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice”. 

Freedom means not being constrained in any way to agree to sex. If any kind of physical, emotional or psychological pressure, abuse or force is used to coerce someone to have sex then the person being coerced has lost their freedom of choice. In such a situation a person might say ‘yes’ to sex but do so out of fear. So just because someone says ‘yes’, this does not necessarily mean that they are giving consent. Equally, if they don’t say no or don’t struggle, they are still not saying yes.

Capacity means the person can make and communicate a decision, understand the consequences, and know they have a choice. If they cannot do this, they cannot give consent.

  • Someone may not have sufficient capacity to give consent if they have been drinking or taking drugs.
  • Someone does not have the capacity to consent if they are asleep or unconscious.
  • By law, someone under the age of 16 does not have the capacity to consent to sex.
  • Someone may not have capacity to consent due to a disability or mental health condition.
Consent can be given to one sexual act, but not another. For example, you might enthusiastically consent to having sex with somebody wearing a condom, this does not mean that you have consented to sex without one. If a person removes a condom during sex without consent, this is a form of rape called stealthing. Similarly, you may have consented to have sex with somebody one week ago, but tonight you may not consent – having sex with somebody one time does not equal indefinite consent, consent should be gained each time. 

Consent can be withdrawn at any point during sexual activity. You may enthusiastically consent to sex and then want to stop during it, that is okay and should be respected.

If the above sounds like the experience of somebody you know, you may feel powerless about what to do but there are simple things you can do to support them:

  • Listen. Showing somebody that you believe them and that you care can be very important, you may be the first person they have told about what has happened. Don’t push the person for further details, they may not want to tell you everything that happened.
  • Give them options. The person has taken a big step in speaking to you about their experience, this is the first step and may not mean that they are ready to take further action such as reporting the incident yet. You can be supportive by providing them with information around their options, so that they know where to go if they choose to seek further help in the future. 

University support for students

Report and Support is a disclosure site, which allow students to inform the University of incidents including sexual violence.  Students and staff can report anonymously, or can request to speak to an advisor who is a trained Sexual Violence Liaison Officer to discuss their disclosure and options, this will be in line with University's privacy statement and does not instigate the start of formal complaint. Our Counselling, Mental Health, and Wellbeing Service is also available if a student needs support with their mental health or wellbeing. 

External Support 

Sexual violence is a crime and can be reported to the Police. This link explains how Greater Manchester Police can support somebody who has experienced sexual violence. If you or somebody else are in immediate danger please call 999. 

If the person does not want to speak to the Police at the moment, they can still access support:

St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre can conduct forensic medical examinations, sexual health screening, and emergency contraception.

Greater Manchester Rape Crisis can support you via their helpline, their Independent Sexual Violence Advisor service, and counselling.

Survivors Manchester support male victims of sexual abuse through 1-2-1 support, group support, and online support.
If the person needs help with their mental health, SHOUT provides text-based crisis support. Text SHOUT to 85258. You can also call the Greater Manchester NHS Mental Health Helpline available 24/7 on 0800 953 0285. 

If the person chooses to disclose sexual violence via Report and Support to speak to an advisor, they will be able to explore further signposting relevant to them and their identity.

There are two ways you can tell us what happened