Sexual assault includes rape, incest and other forms of unwanted sexual behaviour, such as kissing or touching. It can include behaviour which does not involve touching, such as forcing someone to watch pornography or watch someone masturbate. Some forms of sexual harassment (unlawful, unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature) may also constitute sexual assault.
Sexual assault is an act of violence which takes a persons control over their bodies, rights and feelings away from them.
Sexual assault is a criminal offence. It can happen to anyone, any time and in any place. The majority of sexual assaults are perpetuated by men against women and are more likely to be committed by men that we know than by strangers.
Rape is when you are forced to have penetrative sex with someone by anus or mouth, by a penis, another part of the body, such as a finger or tongue, or by an object.
Incest is when members of the same family, such as fathers, step-fathers, grandfathers, uncles, have or try to have some type of sexual contact with a child or young person.
Myths about sexual assault help to disguise how wide spread it is, and how traumatic the effects can be. Myths shift responsibility away from the perpetrator. The person who commits the assault is responsible. It is not your fault. You are not to blame.
Some myths include:
Myths about incest help to disguise how often incest occurs. Myths also try to shift the blame away from the person who committed the offence. If you were abused, you are not to blame.
Facts about sexual assault:
Supporting someone you care about through a trauma like sexual assault can be painful and confusing. Getting information about sexual assault may help you understand what the victim/survivor is going through, and how you can offer support. It may also help you make sense of your own reactions. You can do this by talking to supportive people like friends, family or counsellors. The services listed below may be able to suggest ways of getting more information about sexual assault. It is very important to seek permission to discuss someone else’s experiences before you do so.
The most important help you can provide is your support. In supporting a sexual assault survivor, it is important to:
In supporting a sexual assault survivor, it is important to avoid:
Sexual assault is a crime. It is not your fault. Recovery from sexual assault and incest can sometimes be a long and difficult process. The services listed here can offer you support and information about sexual assault, and discuss all options available to you.
Because of the myths that surround sexual assault it is important to know where to go to receive sensitive support. Centres Against Sexual Assault -(CASA’s), are located throughout Victoria. They offer support, counselling, advocacy, medical care and legal information for victims/survivors of recent or past sexual assault.
It is up to you to decide if you want to report the sexual assault to the police. If you go to the police, they are bound by the ‘Police Code of Practice for Sexual Assault Cases’ to follow certain procedures. You will be asked basic information about the assault, then taken to the nearest CASA for a medical examination to check for injuries, sexually transmitted diseases and to collect evidence. CASA counsellor /advocates will be there to offer information and support. If you are feeling unsure, you may ring a CASA and discuss your options with a worker.
A first step to dealing with any form of sexual abuse is to tell people. Because of the secretive nature of sexual abuse and incest, the decision to tell people is a difficult one. By telling carefully chosen and trusted people, you have the opportunity to gain support, or get something done to stop the abuse. Telling the right person may help you feel less isolated and break the silence that may have surrounded your experiences.
A person can apply for compensation if they have been the victim of assault, sexual assault or other crime. It must be demonstrated that injury has resulted from the crime. The perpetrator of the crime does not have to have been prosecuted or convicted of the offence, for the victim to make an application. The incident must be reported to the police within a reasonable time. However, in cases where there is fear of retribution, such as in domestic violence, it may be possible to argue that this constitutes ‘special circumstances’ for not reporting. Compensation must usually be applied for within a year of the crime, although extensions may be granted, With some exceptions these matters are heard before a Magistrate in private hearings. It is advisable to seek legal advice, and you have a right to be represented.