Sexual abuse

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In 2015, the police reported 21,380 cases of sexual assault, of which 21% involved children aged 10 to 14 years. Female victims aged 15-19 have the highest sexual assault victim rate of any age group.

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What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is sexual penetration that happens without your consent. Sexual penetration is when any body part or object is partially or fully inside someone’s vagina, anus or mouth. Rape can occur in the following circumstances:

  • Someone sexually penetrates you without your consent, or
  • Someone forces you to sexually penetrate them, or
  • Someone forces you to sexually penetrate yourself, or
  • Someone forces you to sexually penetrate someone else, or
  • Someone forces another person to sexually penetrate you, or
  • Someone forces you to sexually penetrate, or be sexually penetrated by an animal.

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

What is consent?

Consent involves a free agreement to engage in sexual intercourse. This means that all people involved must freely and willingly agree to engage in sexual intercourse. You do not give consent to sexual intercourse if you have been forced to agree or if you were incapable of consenting at the time. Some examples include:

  • Engaging in sexual intercourse because of force or fear of force;
  • Engaging in sexual intercourse because of the fear of harm to yourself, someone else or an animal;
  • If you weren’t capable of understanding the act at the time;
  • If you were unconscious or asleep at the time;
  • When you are affected by alcohol or drugs;
  • When you initially give consent but you later change your mind.

You cannot consent to sexual intercourse if you are under the age of 16. If you are 16 or 17, you cannot consent to sexual intercourse with someone who you are under the care of or someone who is in a position of authority over you. This includes teachers, foster parents, legal guardians, religious ministers, employers, youth workers, a sport’s coach, counsellors, doctors or a police officer.

What can you do if you have been sexually assaulted?

If you are in immediate danger you should call 000. If you have been sexually assaulted, you have the right to be protected and should report the case by calling your local police station.

You can also contact your local Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT). This is a specialist team of detectives who are trained to investigate sexual assault and child abuse. You can find information about how to contact your local SOCIT team here. We also recommend that you should 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:

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

Victim's compensation

If you have been raped you can apply for financial assistance from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) to help you with expenses resulting from the attack, such as loss of income, counselling fees, medical bills, loss or damage to clothing you wore when you were assaulted, and safety-related expenses, as well as special assistance for pain and suffering. Direct victims of an assault in Victoria can receive up to $70,000 in assistance from VOCAT.

To be able to receive victim’s compensation assistance, you must report the crime to police. It is also important that you make your application for assistance from VOCAT within two years of the assault. More time is allowed for victims of childhood sexual assault.

You can apply for victims compensation even if, after you reported to the police, the police could not charge or identify the person who raped you. You can qualify for assistance even if the person is charged, tried and found not guilty by a court.

If the person who raped you is found guilty, you can seek financial compensation from that person.  VOCAT has details about ways to apply for compensation from a convicted offender through both civil and criminal courts here. 

Details about how to apply can be found at the Tribunal’s website here or you can call the Victims of Crime Helpline on 1800 819 817.

More information is also available from Victims of Crime Compensation and Counselling Services.

Phone: (03) 9415 9492 

Email: [email protected]

Personal Injury Damages

If you have been sexually abused as a child, there are no time limitations for starting the court process to seek financial compensation, known as personal injury damages, through a civil court.

However, if you were raped when you were 18 or older, time limits do apply. You must start the process to claim civil damages within three years of when it occurred.

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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