Although often hidden, not reported, ignored and untreated, sexual abuses crimes are serious, damaging and are an increasing social problems in Australia. Men, women and children are directly targeted and violated with the psychological impact lasting a lifetime.
Sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual violence are linked to social and historical attitudes, conditions and behaviours in relation to grooming, power and control.
Sexual assault is any form of unwanted sexual behaviour (verbal, visual, or physical) that is forced upon a person. Sexual violence is committed in many different situations such as in the home, by a relative, by someone you know, a neighbour, a teacher or other professional, by church employees, by a stranger or several strangers.
Forms of sexual abuse and assault may include: (list not exhaustive)
- Inappropriate or unwelcome touching of a ‘private area’
- Sexual harassment
- Rape (i.e. non-consensual/forced sexual intercourse)
- Attempted rape
- Child molestation
- Incest (sexual contact between family members)
- Forcing someone to touch another in a sexual way or place
- Voyeurism (viewing private sexual acts or people undressing)
- Exhibitionism (exposing naked parts of the body to other people)
- Sexting (using modern technology ie computers, mobile phones to expose or distribute sexually-based material)
- Producing or viewing child pornography
The majority of sexual assaults and rapes remain unreported due to the victims’ feelings of fear, shame, misplaced self-blame, guilt because they could not avoid the assault. We encourage every person to reach out for support if they have experienced sexual violence. Some may wish to report to police, other people may choose to not report.
Sexual assault cases that are reported to authorities and survivors who seek justice may have a challenging pathway ahead. In order to hold the perpetrator(s) accountable, to the best of their capacity given the restraints that they will have placed on them, we encourage survivors to learn about the criminal justice system, and what it may mean for their case.