Sexual abuse

For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, you can contact us here.

You have the right to be safe from abuse of any kind, including sexual assault. Sexual assault is a serious issue and it is important to know you are not alone. 

In 2015, police reported 21,380 cases of sexual assault across Australia. The highest rates of sexual assault are against teenage girls aged 15-19 years. Women and girls made up 82% of sexual assault victims. In South Australia, 1590 victims of sexual assault were recorded in 2015. If you or anyone you know are experiencing sexual assault and feel like you are in danger please contact the police on 000.

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What is sexual assault?

Assault is when someone uses force, makes physical contact knowing you do not want to be touched or threatens to use force and you do not consent.

Sexual assault can include:

  • sexual intercourse, which means activity involving penetration of a person’s vagina, anus or mouth by any part of the body of another person or by any object and also includes when another person’s tongue is inside another person’s vagina or anus;
  • rape, which means that somebody engages in, or continues to engage in, sexual intercourse with another person who does not consent or has withdrawn consent to the sexual intercourse;
  • sexual manipulation (this is when someone touches you inappropriately or they touch themselves inappropriately by making you do certain acts);
  • indecent assault;
  • takes you against your will to have sex with;
  • threatens you to have sex; or 
  • forcing you to take a picture or video while doing a sexual act. 

Even if the other person is your family member, teacher, or someone else you know this will also be sexual assault.

Sexual assault is against the law and is a serious crime.

If someone has touched you or acted in a sexual way without your consent, this is also a serious crime and against the law. We strongly encourage you to speak to someone at the organisations listed below.

What is consent?

If you do not give consent to a sexual activity it is against the law. Consent means agreeing to do a sexual activity freely and voluntarily. You cannot consent to sex if you are under the age of 17. If you are under the age of 18, you cannot consent to any sexual activity with any person who is in a position of authority. This includes teachers, guardians, religious officials, doctors, youth workers or employers. There is no consent if:

  • you have a serious mental or intellectual disability that affects your ability to understand what is happening;
  • If someone forces or threatens you and you agree to engage in sexual activity and do something you don’t want to that is not consent;
  • you are sexually assaulted while intoxicated or affected by drugs and/or alcohol to the point of not being able to freely or voluntarily agree to the activity; or
  • you are asleep unconscious, or not awake. 

If you are not certain about who the person is or what they want you to do but agree to the sexual activity to a sexual activity this is not consent. For example if you agree for your body to be inspected because you believe it is for a medical treatment but it is not, this does not mean you have consented to the sexual assault that has occurred.

For more information about consent, please see our page on sex.

What can you do if you have been sexually assaulted?

If you are in immediate danger, we recommended you call 000.

If you have been sexually assaulted, you have the right to be protected and you should report it to the police.

We also recommend that if you have been sexually assaulted you get medical care.  A doctor can test and treat you for any sexually transmitted infections, carry out a forensic examination (if you were assaulted very recently and you wish to report the crime to the police) and provide information on sexual assault and follow-up services.

You should not feel ashamed because you have been sexually assaulted. Sexual abuse is an abuse of power and a betrayal of trust and the abuser is 100% responsible for their behaviour. You should talk to someone you trust like a parent, a family member, a trusted friend or a school counsellor. Or call the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 (this is a 24-hour service). They offer a very supportive service and they keep everything confidential. You can also email them at here or use their online chat service for people aged 5-25 here.

If you don’t feel comfortable telling someone you know there are a number of Sexual Assault Victims Services that can provide you with help. These include:

  • Yarrow Place: provides specialist health service for people aged 16 years and above who have been sexually assaulted. You can call their 24-hour number on: (08) 8226 8787 or 1800 817 421. 
  • Youth Health offers a youth counselling service for people aged 12 to 18 around Adelaide who are:
    • under the Guardianship of the Minister;
    • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Island;
    • pregnant;
    • a refugee or not able to live at home; and
    • those who are having issues with their health, which can include what to do after experiencing sexual assault. Interpreters are also available if this is needed.

You can email them here, or alternatively visit one of their sites in Adelaide:

6 Gillingham Rd, Elizabeth 8255 3477
50A Beach Rd, Christies Beach 8326 6053
Westwood Health Centre, Unit 1, 40-44 Trafford Street, Angle Park 8243 5637
Building 5, Parks Community Centre, Trafford Street, Angle Park 8243 5459

You can also can contact us here for free and confidential legal advice.

Victim's compensation

You may be eligible to claim Victims of Crime Compensation if you are the immediate victim of a sexual crime which took place in South Australia.

To make a claim, you should report the crime to the police as soon as possible and provide as much information as you can to help the investigation. The Victims of Crime Act (SA) requires the offending act to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be achieved by guilt established by a court or in the absence of a known offender, some objective means of corroborating the victim’s evidence (e.g. CCTV footage or witnesses).

Whether or not you will be awarded Victims of Crime Compensation will depend on when the crime happened, how severe the injury was/is, whether you are found to have contributed to the crime or injury, whether you cooperated with the police investigation and the prosecution, whether you have taken reasonable steps to treat your injury and keep your loss to a minimum.

You have 3 years from the date of the crime to make a Victims of Crime Compensation claim.

A parent or guardian can apply for Victims of Crime Compensation on behalf of a child.

If you’re under 25 and you have a question about sexual assault that we haven’t answered here, please ask us a question here and we can give you some free information and advice.

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