Respect - more than just a word.

Sexual Assault

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Photo: Georgie Pauwels via Flickr (CC)

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is when someone makes another person participate in a sexual act without their consent. It includes any behaviour that it is:

  • Unwanted
  • Occurs without consent
  • Makes you feel uncomfortable or afraid

So what it consent? Consent is when you freely agree to participate in sexual activity with another person (or people). Read more about consent here.

You cannot consent to a sexual act if:

  • Someone has used force or the threat of force to make you participate
  • You were held captive
  • You were asleep or unconscious
  • You were so drunk or high that you couldn’t freely agree to participate
  • You didn’t understand the nature of the sexual act
  • You were mistaken about the identity of the person performing the act
  • You believed the act was been performed for medical or hygienic purposes

If you have been pressured, guilt-tripped or physically forced into having sex it is sexual assault. You can read more about sexual assault on SECASA’s website and 1800 RESPECT’s website.

Sexual Assault can include a range of behaviours such as:

  • Rape- when someone has intercourse with you without your consent
  • Unwanted touching or kissing
  • Coerced or forced sexual activities or sex-related activities, including activities that involve violence or pain
  • Exposing of genitals such as ‘flashing’
  • Stalking
  • Watching someone without their permission when they are naked or engaged in sexual activities
  • Posting sexual images of someone on  the Internet without their consent
  • Forcing or coercing someone to watch or participate in pornography
  • Using substances such as drugs or alcohol (or spiking drinks) to make someone vulnerable in order to have sex with them

What should I do if I’ve been assaulted?

If you have been forced into having sex it can make you feel horrible. You might feel a range of different emotions such as anger, confusion and sadness. The most important thing to know is that it wasn’t your fault. No one has the right to force you into sex. It doesn’t matter if they’re your partner, husband, if you’ve had sex before or you’ve never had sex with them. You can find more info on Love: the good, the bad and the ugly’s page about being forced into sex.

Tell someone you trust about what happened, like a friend, parent, family member or teacher. If you’re not sure who to tell you could try your school counsellor, calling Kids Helpline or1800 RESPECT for help. (1800 RESPECT is a national helpline for people who have experienced sexual assault or family violence.) A counsellor will help you deal with your feelings, get medical attention if you need it and decide what to do next. (like report the assault to police) You can also use the Sexual Assault Report Anonymously App to report the assault without giving any of your details or letting the police know.

It can be really hard to talk about sexual assault, but it might make you feel better afterwards. The most important thing is to look after yourself, and find the support you need. If you think telling someone over the phone or in person is too scary Kids Helpline and 1800 RESPECT both offer online counselling services.

You might be able to apply for a Protection Order (also known as an intervention order) that will stop the person who assaulted you from contacting you or being near you. Protection orders are different in every state, check out 1800 RESPECT to find out how they work, and how to apply for one, in your state.

Click here to find out more about sex and consent, and here to find out more about abusive relationships.

For more info check out our other posts on Sex & Consent and Abusive Relationships. 

Relevant Links:
Kids Helpline
Love: the good, the bad and the ugly


*Photo taken from Frederico Filipponi’s Flickr stream under the creative commons license

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