Information For Survivors Of
Sexual Assault

YOU’RE NOT ALONE

What Is Sexual Assault

In the NT, sexual assault is legally defined as sexual intercourse without consent.

This means that without the other person’s explicit consent, sexual intercourse is sexual assault.

Sexual assault is not part of a normal, healthy relationship.

Sexual assault is not about showing someone
you love them or being close to them by force or ignoring non-consent.

Sexual assault is all about one person gaining power, control and domination over another person.

Sexual assault is NEVER the fault or responsibility of the person who has been assaulted.

While the legislation is clear as to how sexual assault can be defined by police, lawyers and courts of law, at Ruby Gaea, we also consider unwanted touching, unwanted attention & unwanted exposure to inappropriate sexual content to be sexual assault.

The Facts

  • The person who has been assaulted is never to blame.
  • Boys & men can be sexually assaulted too.
  • Most people know the person who
    assaulted them.
  • People who perpetrate sexual violence come from all cultural, social & economic backgrounds.
  • Child Sexual Assault (CSA) is often perpetrated by someone known & trusted by the family such as a relative, neighbour or someone who regularly spends time with the child/ren.
  • No-one deserves to be sexually assaulted. It doesn’t matter what you wear, where you go, what your background is, whether your are married or how much you drink.
  • It is estimated that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually assaulted before the age of 15 years.
  • It is also estimated that 1 in 5 women and 1 in
  • 20 men are sexually assaulted from the age of 15 years.

The Impacts of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a serious crime.

It can have lifelong impacts on survivors, their family, partners, friends & communities.

It can be very difficult for survivors of sexual assault to talk about what happened to them.

Survivors may fear being blamed or not believed.
It takes great courage for survivors to speak out.

Information for Survivors

If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you may be experiencing the following:

  • Shock, disbelief, fear, anger, guilt, shame &/or emotional numbness;
  • A sense of betrayal;
  • Worry about your future;
  • Self-harm &/or Suicidal thoughts
  • Your relationships maybe under pressure at home &/or at work
  • Inability to concentrate &/or problems
    with memory;
  • Sleep disturbances;
  • Appetite disturbances; or
  • Other grief reactions.

Information For Support People

Information for support people You can provide support to a family member or friend who has experienced sexual assault by:

  • Listening to & believing them;
  • Being non-judgemental;
  • Never blaming the survivor;
  • Seeking out information about sexual assault;
  • Seeking support for yourself- sexual assault affects the family & friends of survivors too;
  • Trying not to question a survivor’s choice to report the assault to Police or not.

Information About Intimate Partner Sexual Violence

Sexual intimacy can be a fulfilling & enjoyable part of a marriage or intimate relationship. Healthy sexual activity can benefit our body, mind & spirit. Healthy sexual intimacy involves the consent of both people in the relationship. When sexual activity occurs without consent freely given by both parties, it is against the law. This applies to all people in all circumstances including marriage. You have the right to be treated with respect if you do not wish to engage in an intimate sexual act. You have the right to initiate, consent or refuse to engage in a sexual act with your partner/ husband.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE is any activity or behaviour of a sexual nature that is unwanted, &/or that is forced upon a person by another/ others. Sexual violence is any activity or behaviour of a sexual nature that is undertaken without freely given consent &/or where coercion has been used.

CONSENT is the process of agreement expressed freely & without pressure & based on all the available information.

COERCION is the means used to make someone do something that they do not want to do. It
can include physical force & intimidation, verbal harassment, emotional manipulation or intimidation, manipulation of cultural or religious beliefs, restriction of basic human needs &/or the threat of any of these.

Sexual violence can include touching, rape, viewing of sexually degrading or explicit material, participation in the production of sexually degrading or explicit material or sexual harassment in the workplace or at home.

You Have The Right To Be Safe & Feel Safe From Physical & Sexual Violence

This means that: 

  • You do not have a duty to anyone to engage
    in sexual intimacy with them. You do not have to engage in a sexual act simply because you are in a relationship with a person, married or closely related to them.
  • Your partner/husband has no right to hit
    you, force you or pressure you to engage in any sexual activity without your consent.
  • You have the right to choose when, where
    &how you want to engage in sexual intimacy.
  • You do not have to feel guilty
    about not wanting to have sex
    with your partner/husband.
  • You do not have to agree to have sex because you think your partner/husband needs it & that it is your role to meet all his needs at all times.
  • Your partner/husband can’t force you
    to have sex by threatening you with deportation or losing residency in Australia.
  • No matter what your cultural background or that of your partner/husband, there is never any excuse for being touched against your will, forcing or pressuring you to engage in a sexual act.

 

There are many reasons why a person from a non-English speaking background finds it hard to talk about what’s happening in her relationship or marriage:

  • You may feel that you are ruining your family honour, or jeopardising your family’s reputation, by talking about how your partner/husband is treating you.
  • You may feel that it is your fault thatyour partner/husband doesn’t respect your rights to decide when & where you want to engage in sexual activity.
  • Language & cultural barriers could make it hard for you to contact organisations for help.
  • You may have experienced racist attitudes in Australia & think the best option is to keep to yourself.
  • You might fear that friends in your community & place of worship would blame you for your partner/husband’s abusive behaviour.
  • You may think it is shameful to talk of sexual matters with other people.
  • You may feel that you are being disloyal to your cultural & religious community by talking about what your partner/husband does to you.
  • You may have been brought up to believe that you have to obey your partner /husband’s demands, including sexual demands.
  • As a migrant or refugee in Australia, you might be fearful of contact with authorities such as the Police, particularly if you have had earlier bad experiences with authorities in Australia or in your country of origin.

It’s Aqalnst The Law

It’s against the law in Australia for a husband, boyfriend or partner ( whether male or female):

 

  • To physically force, trick or coerce a person to engage in a sexual activity
  • To sexually harass a person
  • To force a person to watch pornography
  • To ignore a person when they say they do not want to engage in a sexual activity
  • To engage in any sexual activity with a child.

What some women have done
“I spoke with our priest who told me my husband’s forcing me to have sex was a breach of our marriage vows & a violation of the sanctity of marriage. He told me not to feel guilty for leaving & seeking help. He said the Bible should never be used to justify abuse.”

“I rang the Migrant Support Service. They helped me find a safe place & gave me information on how to get my own money through Centrelink & how to report my case to the police.”
“Talking to someone I trusted helped
me feel stronger & more able to
decide what I wanted to do.”

When A Child Has Been Sexually Assaulted

Intimacy

Any act of a sexual nature, or sexual threat, or exhibition of sexual behaviours, imposed on a child under the age of 16 years is a serious crime.

 

It is against the law for adults to behave in a sexual way towards children. It is also against the law for older children to sexually harm younger children.

 

Those who sexually assault children take advantage of the child’s trust, innocence & vulnerability.

 

Child sexual assault is committed against both girls & boys. Statistics show the perpetrator is most often a family member or a person known to the child.

 

When a child discloses sexual assault to a parent or caregiver, it is important the child receives considerable support & reassurance.

Key responses when a child tells you that they have been sexually assaulted

 

Children need to hear from their parent or caregiver that:

  • It is NOT their fault;
    They did the right thing in telling someone;
  • They are not in trouble; &
  • The parent or caregiver will do everything they can to protect & support the child from here on.

Initial Response

Initial Response Hearing a child disclose sexual assault is shocking & overwhelming, particularly if the perpetrator is a partner, family member or friend.

 

The disclosure will often leave the parent or caregiver feeling hurt & angry that their trust has been betrayed. It is common to feel guilty for not being able to protect the child, which is why it is crucial to remember that the perpetrator is the only person responsible for what has happened.

 

Sometimes children who have been sexually assaulted find it hard to disclose due to fear, not being abie to articulate what is happening to them, or often because the perpetrator has made some sort of threat to keep them quiet. Children may not disclose what has happened for some time.

 

Sometimes they may use other ways of letting an adult know which can include unusual & sudden behavior changes such as tantrums, expressions
of fear of strangers or the dark, wetting the bed, sexually explicit play, not wanting to go to school or play with friends or attend family outings. More than anything, the child needs support, comfort & love, for now & in the future.

 

Children & young people cope best when their family & environment is calm, caring & accepting

If The Sexual Assault Was Recent

A child who has been sexually assaulted may need medical treatment & if the last assault was recent, forensic evidence may be available to assist Police.

 

In the NT every person over the age of 18 years who forms a reasonable belief that a child has been or is at risk of serious harm is legally required to make a report to the authorities.
You need to call Police on 000 for emergencies or 131 444 in instances where you think you need to report but where an emergency response is not needed.

 

The Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) are the agencies who assist with forensic examinations. (See over page for contact numbers)

 

It is important to know that many sexual assaults do not cause any physical harm or injury. However, it is important that counselling options are made available for the child & for their supporters, as everyone who cares about the child will be impacted by the sexual assault

What Can I Do To Help My Child Now?

There are many things that you can do to help your child to deal with the effects of the sexual assault.

 

Some important things to remember when responding to your child’s disclosure are:

  • Believe them;
  • Let them know that they are not to blame;
  • Praise them for telling someone they trust;
  • Contact the Police as soon as possible;
  • Allow them to express their feelings;
  • Protect them from further abuse;
  • If possible, allow them to have some control over what they need to do to feel safe; &
  • Help them to find someone they can trust to talk about it.

 

 

Look after yourself
Non-offending parents of children who have been sexually assaulted need support too. Assisting someone who has been sexually assaulted is difficult. Their level of pain & distress will impact on you.

 

This is called vicarious trauma. Have your own strategies to make sure you are OK-keep contact with family & friends, laugh & have fun. Notice any changes & take action.

 

You can call the following numbers for help.

Information For Partners Of People Who Were Sexually Abused In Childhood

Why Can’t She/He Forget?

What Is Child Sexual Abuse?

The sexual ·abuse of children is far more common than most people realise. At least 1 in 3 girls & 1 in 5 boys are abused in childhood. In most cases, the abuser is someone known & trusted by the child, & is usually male. Fathers, step-fathers, grandfathers, uncles & brothers are the most common. Abusers are men who are found across the full range of cultural, socio-economic & geographic groups. The abuse could range from sexual suggestions through to violent rape. It may only happen once, but it is more likely to be a frequent occurrence over an extended period of time.

 

The most significant & damaging characteristics of child sexual abuse are

 

  • The misuse of adult power
  • The betrayal of a child’s trust affection
  • The denial of a child’s right to feel safe valued
  • The violation of a child’s personal boundaries
    sense of self

Sexual Abuse Is A Crime The Victim Is Never To Blame

The abuser knows that what he is doing is wrong, so he attempts to avoid detection. This often includes making the child feel responsible for what he is doing to her/him, or making threats about what will happen ifs/he tells anyone. The child is kept silent through fear & shame, & the thought that no-one would believe her/him if s/he told. Unfortunately, when children do tell they are often not believed or not supported.

 

Even as adults, it is very difficult for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to talk about what happened.

They still fear being blamed or disbelieved, & it takes great courage to finally break the silence.
Anyone who has experienced childhood sexual abuse has lived through a traumatic experience which can have severe & lasting effects.

S/he is also a strong, resourceful & courageous person who has survived & coped in whatever ways have been available to her/him.

S/he deserves support in her/his attempts to resolve the effects of abuse in her/his life & develop more positive coping strategies.

Do

  • Believe the survivor
  • Listen to her/him
  • Recognize the harm that was done to her/him
  • Validate her/his feelings-pain, fear & anger are natural reactions
  • Ask her/him whats/he needs from you
  • Help out in practical ways
  • Respect her/his strength as a survivor
  • Encourage her/him to get support
  • Seek support for yourself (with her/his permission)
  • Seek help if s/he is suicida

Don’t

  • Ignore it
  • Take charge
  • Blame her/him
  • Sympathise with the abuser
  • Press for details of the abuse
  • Offer support you can’t provide
  • Expect her/him to support you if you have trouble coping with her/his pain

Intimacy

When a child is sexually abused, the abuser is usually someone the child loves & trusts. The abuse betrays that trust, & denies the child the opportunity of being loved & valued unconditionally. S/he may feel disgraced or dirtied by what was done to her/him, & may think that it was something about her/him that caused her/him to be abused. (The abuser will often blame the child in order to avoid taking responsibility for his own criminal behaviour.) The child learns to believe that s/he doesn’t deserve to be treated with care & respect. Because the abuse produces such a confusing range of emotions, the child may learn to block out her/his emotions, or learn that they are not to be trusted.

 

As an adult your partner may

  • Find it difficult to trust or be close to anyone
  • Cling to people, seeking the love & approval s/he was denied as a child
  • Put other people’s needs first because s/he feels that s/he does not deserve to have her/his needs considered
  • Have difficulty identifying or expressing her/his feelings

 

You can support your partner by

  • Demonstrating that you can be trusted-making offers or commitments that you are sure you can keep
  • Asking her/him what her/his needs are & how you can help to meet them-supporting her/him in putting herself/himself first
  • Respecting her/his privacy

Sexuality

When a child is sexually abused by an adult, sexual acts are used in a way that makes her/him feel powerless, humiliated, frightened & betrayed. S/he has no control over what is happening, no choice in what is done to her/his body. An adult’s sexual agenda has been imposed upon her/him, & as a results/he is denied the opportunity to develop & explore her/his own sexuality at a natural pace.
S/he may learn to “switch off” & go numb during the abuse. Being abused may be the only time when s/he received any affection or attention. S/he may
learn to believe that her/his only value is sexual.

 

As an adult your partner may

  • Seek sex to get needs for affection & tenderness met
  • Avoid sex
  • Appear to function sexually, while actually being numb during the experience
  • Experience flashbacks of the abuse during sex­feeling like it’s happening all over again
  • You can support your partner by
  • Letting her/him control sexual interactions-only doing whats/he feels safe & comfortable with
  • Letting her/him know that it’s OK to say “no” to you- that her/his value to you is more than sexual
  • Offering her/him non-sexual forms of intimacy­talking, shared activities, holding hands, hugs, backrubs etc.

Control

Control is a central feature of the sexual abuse
of children. Children are extremely vulnerable
& powerless people who are highly reliant on adults-& are taught to trust & obey the adults in their lives. Adults can use their position of power to act out their own inadequacies by abusing someone over whom it is very easy to have control. The child experiences having no control over her/his body & her/his life, as well as feeling guilty & responsible for abuse which s/he was powerless to stop.

 

Regaining a sense of control & personal power in her/his life is essential in healing from childhood sexual abuse.

Our society teaches us all to expect that men
are in control, that they should take the lead in relationships. Because you care about your partner, & are aware that the effects of the abuse are painful for her/him, you may be tempted to make decisions for her/him-like telling her/him to just forget about it, or taking her/him to a psychiatrist because you are worried about her/him. However, all this does is reinforce her/his feelings of lack of control in her/his life. No matter how much you care, s/he is the only one who knows what her/his needs are. The most important thing that you can give your partner is support in making her/his own choices. You can help by letting her/him know what you are able to offer her/him, what other resources (such as counselling services) are available, & being open to her/him discussing her/his options with you.

The only exception to this is if s/he is putting her/ his life at risk.

Sexual Assault Prevention Education & Awareness Programs

For Schools, Organizations & The Community

A Community Problem

In 3 girls & 1 in 5 boys will experience sexual assault by the time they are 15!

 

An act of child abuse occurs in Australia every NINE minutes.

 

Over one .5 million adult Australian women have reported experiencing sexual assault.

 

In the NT, sexual assault is defined as sexual intercourse without consent. While the legislation is clear as to how sexual assault can be defined by police, lawyers and courts of law at Ruby Gaea, we also consider unwanted touching & unwanted attention to be sexual assault.

Our Education Goals

To work towards an informed community of critically aware citizens who all share responsibility for sexual assault prevention.

 

By providing primary prevention programs to increase awareness, knowledge, and skills in participants to reduce sexual assault, promote

Our Education Programs

The Ruby Gaea community education team provides Sexual Assault Prevention Education (SAPE) to a wide range of audiences including:high school students, educators, nurses, health workers, police, and generalist counsellors to name a few.

 

Our presentations and workshops are tailored to our group and can cover diverse topics such as: consent, sexual assault terminology, myths and facts, gender norms, perpetrator tactics, long term effects, workplace best practice and more. Please contact our education team today to book in for a FREE Presentation or Workshop for your School, Community Organisation or Workplace

Sexual Assault Prevention Education & Awareness Programs