What is Violence Against Women?

Violence against women isn’t always physical. Misogynistic behaviour, sexist jokes and ‘banter’ have a big impact on the way we view women and girls. These kinds of behaviour contribute towards a culture of sexual violence, and can often be the catalyst to more serious violent acts.

Violence can take many forms

All of these examples are behaviours that have been reported in Cambridgeshire. All of these examples are classed as violence. Click on each behaviour to find out more below.

KNOW Mis – o – gy – ny

Misogyny is hatred of, or prejudice against, women. Click to see the types of Misogynistic behaviour reported in Cambridgeshire.

Having double standards

Treating women differently to men in the same situation, such as calling a woman a ‘slut’ for sleeping with multiple people, when men wouldn’t be judged in the same manner - they may actually be praised or congratulated for it.

Unwanted attention from drivers while out exercising

Beeping your horn or shouting from your car window - harassing and being sexually suggestive or threatening towards women whilst they’re exercising.


Shouting harassing and often sexually suggestive or threatening comments at women in public.

Unsolicited comments

Unwarranted comments about a woman’s appearance, what they’re wearing, how attractive they are, giving them an ‘out of 10 score.’

Vulgar or abusive nicknames

Disrespectfully using nicknames that may be sexually suggestive and/or related to their body or appearance.

Using familiar nicknames

Being over-familiar with women, calling them ‘babe’, ‘sweetheart’, ‘girlfriend’, or other pet names that often makes them feel uncomfortable.

KNOW Harassment

Harassment is repeated behaviour that can upset or offend someone, including things like unwanted sexual attention, verbal abuse and offensive language. Click below to see the different types of harassment behaviour reported in Cambridgeshire.

Being photographed without consent

Taking a photo of someone when they have not agreed to it – especially if they are unaware of the photo being taken. These photos are then often shared with friends, or via an online platform.

Standing or walking close

Invading someone’s personal space by standing too close to them, or following closely behind or next to them.

Controlling or coercive behaviour

A pattern of behaviour that aims to make a victim feel isolated and scared. This could be stopping them from seeing their family, taking their phone away from them, monitoring their time online, controlling their finances, humiliating and degrading them, or being verbally and physically abusive.

Forced interaction

Using fear tactics to force someone into a position where they have to interact with you, when they do not want to. This oftens puts people in an unsafe or uncomfortable positions. People under the influence of drugs or alcohol can particularly increase feelings of discomfort, as women are fearful of the potentially negative repercussions of ignoring these people.

Persistent attempts at unwanted conversation

Continuing to pursue someone after they’ve asked you to leave them alone or made it clear they're not interested in you.

Inappropriate or threatening body language

Making sexual gestures such as hand gestures that simulate sex acts, leering, ogling and suggestive facial expressions or using body language to corner, trap or threaten women.

Verbal abuse

This could be using inappropriate language, calling women names, putting them down or even using silence to punish them.

Open and inappropriate staring

Intrusive staring of a sexual nature (i.e., staring at specific body parts) that causes harassment, alarm or distress.

Being followed or stalked

Following someone closely but trying to do so without being seen or heard is threatening. Repeatedly doing this to the same person is stalking. Stalking offences include turning up uninvited to locations where a specific person is present, trying to contact a specific person by any means necessary, or spying on the person.

Unwanted attention from drivers while out exercising

Beeping your horn or shouting from your car window - harassing and being sexually suggestive or threatening towards women whilst they’re exercising.

KNOW Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence is the action or act of unwanted sexual activity - this can include online messages, being asked personal sexual questions, being touched without consent, and rape. Click below to see the different types of sexual violence that can occur.


Forcing someone to have sex with you – by penetrating someone's vagina, anus or mouth with a penis - without their consent. There is no such thing as non-consensual sex. It’s rape.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault is when someone touches another person in a sexual manner without their consent. It also includes forcing someone to take part in a sexual activity without their consent.

Threats of rape

Telling someone you want to rape them, or that you hope someone else rapes them. it could also include threatening to force someone to perform a sexual act. This could be in person or online.

Sexual activity by pressure

Using manipulation, bullying, intimidation, threats, or deception to force someone to engage in sexual activity. This could be kissing, oral sex or other sexual touching.

Sexual noises

Making sexual and disrespectful noises that make someone feel uncomfortable, such as snorts, fake groans, kiss noises, or screams. This could be when a woman is walking past, or in a group of people.

Unwelcome sexual advances, being asked for sexual favours

Unwelcome gestures made towards another person, with the aim of gaining some sort of sexual favour or gratification. This could include coming onto someone by trying to kiss them, or touching their bum.

Being asked personal questions about sex, sexual orientation or sexual life

Asking someone inappropriate or personal questions about sex or their own sex life. This could include asking women ‘how many people have you shagged?’, or about their favourite sex position.

Being shown pornography, nude pictures or suggestive/indecent content

Sending unsolicited sexual pictures or inappropriate content, such as pornography, to someone.

Unsolicited physical contact or touching

Physical contact or touch when the person doesn’t want it. This could be placing an arm around someone's shoulder, pushing, touching, groping, or unsolicited sexual touching.

Sexualised and inappropriate comments and gestures

Talking sexually about someone to your friends, or out loud so they can hear you. This could be commenting on their body, their clothes, or saying something about how you think they may perform in bed. This could also be performing sexual gestures to imitate sexual acts, either to them or about them.

Indecent Exposure

Exposing genitals or pleasuring yourself in a public space. This could be flashing someone, or masturbating in public.

Up skirting

Using a phone or a camera to take a photo up someone’s skirt without their consent.