Sexual assault

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual behaviour or activity that makes the victim feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened. It is sexual activity that the person has not consented to and refers to a broad range of sexual behaviours, including the use or threat of violence to force another person to engage in a sexual activity against their will.

Sexual assault is a serious crime, commonly committed by men against women and children. Approximately one third of Australian women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes – 18 per cent before age 16. In most cases, the woman knows the perpetrator, with only 20 per cent of sexual assaults committed by strangers. Around half of all sexual assaults occur in the victim’s home.

A common misconception is that sexual assault is motivated by desire – on the contrary, it is about power and violence. Men are also victims of sexual assault, but less frequently. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology a woman over her lifetime is 3.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than a man.

Sexual assault support services provide direct services for children, young people and adults who have experienced recent or past sexual assault. Services include crisis care responses, counselling, casework, group-work, advocacy and a statewide after-hours telephone crisis service. Agencies also provide community awareness, education and professional consultation services that work towards the prevention and early identification of sexual assault.

Contact information

For adults:
Sexual Assault Crisis Line
Tel: 1800 806 292

For children:
Gatehouse Centre for Assessment and Treatment of Child Abuse
Tel: (03) 9345 6391 (during business hours)
Tel: (03) 9345 5522 (24 hours)

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