What exactly is stealthing, can someone be prosecuted for it and can you report it to the police? Read more in the frequently asked questions about stealthing. Please note: all questions and answers about legal posibilities, are written with the Dutch law in mind. If you live in another country, please double check the law for that specific country.
What is stealthing?
Stealthing is non-consensual condom removal, or forced unsafe sex. So; the sex is consensual, but only if a condom is being used. When the male partner removes his condom without the knowledge of consent of his sexual partner, this is called stealthing.
Stealthing is done without the knowledge of the victim, and the victim usually doesn't feel anything. This means there is no consent for sex without protection. Therefor stealthing is sexual assault. It happens to heterosexuals as well as homosexuals. Read more frequently asked questions about stealthing below.
This website focuses only on stealthing in the form of a male partner secretly removing the condom.
Is stealthing known in the Netherlands?
Stealthing is fairly unknown in the Netherlands. A lot of police officers (including those in charge of investigating sex crimes), general doctors and people working in the legal fields, have never heard about it. Stealthing is better known internationally. Some successful lawsuits have taken place. In the Netherlands 2 separate lawsuits have taken place on February 28, 2023. These are the first lawsuits about stealthing in this country.
Is stealthing punishable in the Netherlands?
Stealthing itself has not been added to the Dutch criminal law. You can still report it as sexual assault or force to the police. A Dutch court sentenced a man to 3 months probation and a 1.000 euro fine for stealthing in 2023. Do you want to report stealthing? Read more under 'Can I report the crime of stealthing to the police?'.
Can I report the crime of stealthing to the police?
Yes, you can report the crime of stealthing to the police if this happened to you. You can call the Dutch police at the phone number +31 (0)900 8844 and tell them you would like to report a sex crime and that the crime falls under article 284 'Force' of article 242 'Rape', as stated in the 'Wetboek van Strafrecht'. It's very important to report stealthing to the police, in order to prevent stealthing in the future and make sure the perpetrators get sentenced for it. At this time (the impact of) stealthing is fairly unknown within criminal law. The growing amount of reports is able to change this.
Is stealthing punishable by law internationally?
Yes, more and more countries are adding stealthing to their criminal laws. In Switzerland a man was sentenced to prison for rape for stealthing. Also in Belgium, the UK and Australia people have been convicted. More information on the page Publications.
What are the (possible) consequences of stealthing?
When the condom is removed without your permission and/or knowledge, you might contract a sexual transmitted disease. One of which is the life threatening hiv virus, also known as aids. Female victims also run the risk of getting pregnant. If your sexual partner removed his condom without your consent and/or knowledge, this means he cannot be trusted. This also means he could have done this before to other people. And so there is a big chance he might have a sexual transmitted disease, even if he told you he doesn't. Another consequence of stealthing may be the fact that you might get mental health problems. The feeling is similar to the feeling of rape. You will feel violated. If stealthing happened to you, please always contact your doctor or the Sexual Assault Center.
How would you know you were 'stealthed'?
Sometimes victims of stealthing don't realize a thing. Sometimes your gut tells you something is wrong. And sometimes the perpetrator tells you the next morning that you should go get a morning after pill. People often ask victims 'but didn't you feel it?'. No, many times a victim can't feel it. The sex criminals who stealth people, often have specific ways to make sure you don't feel or realize it as they are doing it. Some articles mention online fora where men can get tips and tricks on how to stealth. Sometimes your gut tells you something is off, but you can't figure out what exactly is off. And because you have no reason to doubt your sexual partner - you did see him put on a condom - you often tell yourself to not worry about nothing.
Are you realizing after the fact that stealthing might have happened to you? Please, always get tested and make sure you prevent a pregnancy. More information about these steps can be found in the roadmap with advice for victims of stealthing. Also always contact the Sexual Assault Center.
What is the roadmap for a victim of stealthing?
When you're the victim of stealthing, you probably don't know exactly which options you have and what is going to happen. Read more on the page 'Roadmap'. This roadmap is not finished yet but is updated regularly.
Where can I get help as a victim of stealthing?
There are multiple organizations to get help as a victim of stealthing:
- Sexual Assault Center: 24/7 first response for victims: for std tests, treatments to prevent hiv, hepatitis B or pregnancies and psychological help.
- The Safe Space Club: help for victims of sexual assault, by people who have experienced this themselves.
- Project Speak Now: talking about the sexual abuse you have experienced.
- Stichting Landelijk Advocaten Netwerk Gewelds- en Zeden Slachtoffers: legal assistance to victims of violent and sexual crimes.
Is an STD test reimbursed by my health insurance company?
Yes, an STD test is being reimbursed by your Dutch health insurance company. However, the deductible is being applied, which means that you have to pay the first 385 euro in health insurance cost this year yourself. Please don't let this keep you from getting the test. If you get sick, it will cost you more. If you report the crime of stealthing to the police, you can ask Victim Support Netherlands if you can get the deductible reimbursed. If your case goes to court, you could get reimbursed through the perpetrator if he is convicted.
*Edit: there was a temporary test (until August 31st, 2021) where the costs of this test wasn't taken off the deductible for sex crime victims. If you reported the crime within 7 days at the Sexual Assault Center. Read more about this test.
How does stealthing feel to the victim?
A victim of stealthing, who had no choice in the fact that the sex would be involuntarily unsafe, feels like he/she is raped and/or feels guilty about what happened. The victim didn't get a question he/she could say 'no' to. The perpetrator knows this all too well. Because if he thinks his partner would have been ok with unsafe sex without a condom, he wouldn't have removed the condom secretly and would have just asked for permission. Sometimes it's easier for victims to think it's their own damn fault than to face the fact that you have been sexually assaulted. Stealthing is not your fault. Your sex partner took the choice away from you. It's a form of sexual abuse. Please contact the Sexual Assault Center, they can also help you with the mental consequences of stealthing. You can also contact your doctor.
How often does stealthing happen?
Research in Australia suggests that stealthing happened to 32% of women and 19% of men who participated in the research project. The conclusion could be that at least 1 in 3 women (in hetero sexual contacts) and 1 in 5 men (in homo sexual contacts) are a victim of stealthing.
Stealthing has happened to me. Everyone tells me it's my own fault. Is that true?
Stealthing is never your fault. Not even if you didn't know your sex partner very well. Not even if you didn't bring a condom yourself. Not even if you didn't notice it when it was happening. Not even if you realize in hindsight that you missed some red flags. People love to blame the victim, because that's how they rationalise what happened to you. So that they can tell themselves that it would never happen to them (because they are 'not that stupid' themselves). Read more about victim blaming on watkanmijhelpen.nl. Are you feeling guilty? Ask for professional help at Victim Support Netherlands.
Stealthing has happened to me, can I tell my story on this website?
Yes, we share stories by victims of stealthing on this website. That way, other victims know that they are not alone. And by writing down your experiences, it sometimes helps you coping with what happened. This website focuses on stealthing in the form of a man secretly removing his condom without consent. If your story is about this form of stealthing, feel free to Contact us if you want to share your story.
I have more questions about stealthing, where can I get more information?
Do you have more questions about stealthing that you can't find in these frequently asked questions? Please Contact us.