What should I do if I'm being sexually assaulted?
Is it my responsibility to stop it?
No. It is not your responsibility to stop the sexual assault. In most other situations you might try and stop what's happening by fighting back or screaming or maybe telling someone who can help. But when it comes to sexual assault, it's really hard to say no or shout because:
- you might feel like you're under pressure
- maybe they have threatened you
- maybe you are scared
- maybe you don't want to be embarrassed or ashamed
- you might "freeze up" and find you can't move or speak, even if you want to.
The most important thing to remember is you are not to blame for being sexually assaulted. It is not your fault. The prevention and elimination of sexual assault is the responsibility of the whole community.
A good thing to do is tell someone you trust or you can call a service like CASA so they can help you by talking to you about your options. You also have the right to call the Police on 000 or go to your local police station [ask to speak to someone from the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Unit (SOCAU)].
Why does it happen?
In Australia and around the world, there are major differences between the power that men have and the power that women have (gender inequality). Sexual assault is a violent act of power which in the main, is carried out by men against women and children. It is a violation of human rights and is a crime against the individual and the community.
Often in our world, men are taught that if they want to be "real men" they have to have power over other people, even people they supposedly love. Society often tries to tell women that they should do what other people want them to do and, sometimes, that they should do whatever it takes to keep someone they love. They might even think they are worthless if they're not in a relationship and will do anything to keep it, even if it means having sex when they don't want to. Children, on the other hand, are vulnerable to being controlled by adults who they have to trust and who might make them think that what's happening is okay. It's pretty scary stuff.
It's important to remember that it's not about sex, it's about power and violence. It's not just an individual or private thing, it's a problem for our whole society.
For a more detailed explanation of abuse in relationships, check out the When Love Hurts website.
What can I do to cope?
Every person is an individual and different things will help them feel better. The fact that you are looking at this website already shows that you're trying to find ways to cope with what's happened to you. It shows that you already have some idea that what's happened to you is not okay and that finding out what other people think or have done (or who to talk to) will help you deal with what's happened.
It can be really hard to get this stuff off your mind, but almost everyone says that talking helps. If you talk to someone who understands, you might not have to think about it so much. It might be a friend or parent, it might be a counsellor at school or CASA. You might also be able to hear how other people coped and feel a bit less alone.
- If you're worried about what will happen when you call CASA House, click here
- If you want our free phone number, click here
- For information about how to get it off your mind, click here
What if I am not sure?
You might feel confused about what's happening to you and unsure if it's sexual assault, but the best way to find out is to ask yourself: Does it feel okay? Does it feel right? Do you feel safe? Do you feel gross or dirty? You are the expert and you know when something feels right (or feels wrong). If you're not sure you could talk to someone about it, but the best place to start is usually your own feelings.