If you or someone you know has experienced or is experiencing sexual assault or abuse, you should contact the Sexual Assault Crisis Line (new window) on 1800 806 292.
If you or someone you know need someone to talk to, for any reason, about anything, you can visit eHeadspace (new window), call Lifeline (new window) on 13 11 14, or call Kids Helpline (new window) on 1800 55 1800, 24 hours a day.
If you are in immediate danger, call the Police on 000.
Topics on this page include:
> What is sexual assault?
> Going out & staying safe
> Alcohol, sex & consent
> What to do if you're a victim of sexual assault
> What happens when you report sexual assault
> Links to helpful organisations
Sexual assault is a crime. It's any unwanted sexual behaviour that causes humiliation, pain, fear or intimidation. It includes rape, incest, child abuse and unwanted or unwelcome kissing or touching. It also includes behaviour that does not involve actual touching (e.g. forcing someone to watch pornography or masturbation).
Indecent assault covers sexual acts other than those involving sexual penetration, such as touching someone's breasts or bottom without their consent.
Being forced to have sex when you don't want to, or forcing you into having sex by making you think you will be harmed if you don't, is a serious criminal offence.
It's also an offence to have sex with someone who is under the age of sixteen.
Sexual assault can happen with anyone, either people you know or total strangers, but whatever the circumstances it's important to remember that sexual assault is NEVER the fault of the victim.
Some kinds of social events can attract people who want to take advantage of young people when they're out celebrating, possibly a bit drunk or tipsy, and their guard is down.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't go out and have a good time, but it is a good idea to think about what you can do to keep you and your friends safe when you're out, like:
- Planning to hang out in a group when you go out
- Always walking on well-lit streets
- Having a designated meeting area for if you get lost or separated from your friends
- Keeping an eye on your friends
- Organising transport there and back ahead of time
- Letting someone know where you're going, and when you'll be back
- Not putting yourself in a position where you're alone with someone you don't know very well
Alcohol and sex can be a tricky, even dangerous, mix. You might not be able to make good choices or sensible decisions if your judgement is impaired by alcohol or other drugs.
If you know - or even just think - that the other person is so drunk they're incapable of giving you their consent to have sex, you should stop straight away or you may be committing sexual assault.
If you or a friend has been sexually assaulted you should talk to someone with experience right away. Contacti your local Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA), so that one of their staff can help you decide what to do. They will also work with you to help you recover from your experience.
You need to think about whether you want to report the sexual assault to police. It's important that you take an active role in making decisions, rather than having them made for you.
There are 15 CASAs across Victoria. You can call a local CASA centre (new window) during the day or the Sexual Assault Crisis Line at any time on 1800 806 292.
You don't have to report a sexual assault immediately. You can take some time to decide what you want to do. However, the sooner a crime is reported the easier it is for the police to investigate, and the more likely it is that the perpetrator will be charged and successfully prosecuted.
If you decide to make a report within three days of the sexual assault, a medical examination may find evidence that will support what you are saying. In the case of a sexual assault by a stranger, an examination may help to identify the offender.
You don't have to agree to an examination if you don't want to, but it may improve the chances of successfully finding and prosecuting your assailant.
If you are sexually assaulted, keep all your clothing (including underwear and bedding). Do not wash or clean or throw away these items.
Even if you decide not to report the matter, it's important to make sure you have a medical/health check for STI's, HIV and pregnancy.
To learn more about sexual assaults and the process involved in reporting an assault, check out Victoria Legal Aid's extremely informative sexual assault page (new window).
Victoria Legal Aid - Sexual assault
Advice about sexual assault - what it is, how to deal with it, and what happens when it's reported.
Centre Against Sexual Assault
Providing women, children and men who are victims/survivors of sexual assault with access to comprehensive and timely support and intervention.
Reach Out! - Sexual assault
Information about sexual assault, why people sexually assault others, how sexual assault might affect you, tips for staying safe, sexual assault and the law, and where to get help.
Victoria Police - Sexual assault
Information about sexual assault, including links to support services.