Sexual assault can happen to anyone

Sexual assault can happen to anyone. One in five women report that they have been sexually assaulted during their lifetime. This number may be much higher but many people find it hard to talk about sexual assault and do not report to anyone.

Sexual assault is committed most commonly by men against women. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people also experience sexual assault, and men can also be victims of sexual offences.

Adults with psychiatric and/or intellectual disability are over-represented as victims of reported sexual assault and women with intellectual disability are 50-90% more likely to be subjected to a sexual assault than women in the general population.

I’ve been sexually assaulted. What should I do?

If you want to report a sexual assault to the police:

  • Keep the clothes you were wearing (including underwear) and do not wash them;
  • Place the clothes in a plastic bag and seal the bag;
  • Do not have a shower or bath; and
  • Go to your nearest

If they are unable to perform a Sexual Assault Investigation Kit (SAIK) at the hospital, ask where you can go instead. If you are able to travel to another hospital that will help you with a SAIK it is good to do this as soon as possible. Police, sexual assault service workers or a trusted friend or family member can help you get there safely. For more details and information about why forensic evidence is important, how it is used in the legal process and what choices you will have about its use, please see ‘your rights after a sexual assault‘.

My child has told me they are being sexually assaulted. Where do I go for help?

Reporting to the police and letting the police specialist teams investigate is usually the first step. You and your child may have to speak with members of the police Sex Crimes Squad including the Joint Investigation Response Teams (JIRT) and the Child Wellbeing Unit. The police work closely with Community Services to try to ensure child safety. If the assault was very recent they may want you to take your child to the nearest hospital to undertake some forensic tests.

Parents or carers of children and young people can also report sexual assault to the Child Protection Helpline. This line is run by Community Services and they can talk you through what steps to take next.

There are specific support services for you and your child. Find some support services near you by looking for CASAC services (Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Counsellors). See Contacts for contact information.

I am an adult survivor of child sexual assault. Where do I go for information?

The information in this booklet is mostly directed towards adult victims of sexual assault but much of the information will be the same or similar for you.

However there are some specific services you can contact for support and advice if the abuse took place when you were a child.

It is possible to report a crime, including sexual assaults, to the police, days, months or even years after it occurred. The police can take your statement but may not be able to carry out a thorough investigation if there is no longer enough evidence. In some cases police can charge and prosecute a perpetrator many years after the sexual assault.

Warnings may be given to jury members if the evidence is very old and may be unreliable so it can be more difficult to get a guilty verdict at the end of the trial. Police are aware of how difficult this process is and may warn you before taking your statement. If police will not take your statement, get some legal advice and support. See Contacts for contact information.

Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) provides services for adults who have experienced child abuse and trauma including a support line, information and resources. See Contacts for contact information.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

If the sexual assault you suffered took place while you were in the care of an institution such as a church, school, sporting group, club or other organisation (whether public or private) then you may be able to be part of the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This commenced in 2013 and is going until 2017.

The Royal Commission is investigating how institutions like schools, churches, sports clubs and government organisations have responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse. It is the job of the Royal Commission to uncover where systems have failed to protect children so it can make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices. To find out if you can be involved, see the Royal Commission’s website or contact Knowmore Legal Service for free legal advice. See Contacts for contact information.

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