Sexual violence

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is when someone does something sexual that hurts you and/or makes you feel uncomfortable.

Sexual violence occurs when you do not freely and voluntarily consent to a sexual activity or activities.

You are not consenting to sexual activity if:

  • someone is pressuring you;
  • someone is forcing you;
  • someone is threatening you or threatening someone or something you love;
  • you have changed your mind;
  • you cannot stop when you want;
  • you have not turned 16 years old;
  • you are not awake and conscious;
  • you are overly affected by alcohol or drugs;
  • you have a cognitive impairment that affects your ability to consent;
  • the person you are with has lied about their identity or led you to believe they are someone else.

If a person engages in sexual activity without your consent, they are committing a crime.

No one should presume you consent. Consent to any sexual activity must be clearly communicated by words or actions. A person should, within a reasonable time, before or at the time of the sexual activity, find out if you consent. If you do not say or do anything to indicate that you consent to the sexual activity, you are not consenting, and they are committing a crime.

You can withdraw your consent at any time. For example, if you tell someone to stop kissing you and they don’t, they are committing a crime.

You can consent to some sexual activities and not others. For example, if you agree to having protected sex with someone and they have unprotected sex with you, they are committing a crime.

Being in a relationship with someone does not mean they can engage in sexual activities with you whenever they want; you still need to freely consent to all sexual activity. For example, if your partner has sex with you while you are asleep, they are committing a crime.

If you are only engaging in sexual activity because you are worried about the consequences if you don’t, you are not consenting. For example, if your partner threatens to cancel your credit card if you don’t perform oral sex, they are committing a crime.

Who is most likely to experience sexual violence?

Sexual violence can happen to anyone but is mostly committed by men against women and children, and by people they know, such as boyfriends, fathers, neighbours, stepfathers, bosses, uncles, husbands or partners.

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

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and asexual (LGBTIQA+) people also experience high rates of sexual violence. Research has shown that a LGBTIQA+ person who has been subjected to sexual violence is even less likely to report to police due to fears about social stigma of being identified as LGBTIQA+. Men can also be victims of sexual violence.

Women with a disability are twice as likely to experience sexual violence compared to women without a disability, and women with an intellectual disability are 90% more likely to be subjected to a sexual assault than women in the general population.

Sex workers can be at high risk of sexual violence because of their work. They can find it difficult to report to sexual violence to police fearing they will not be believed.

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