Information

This general information is provided as a guide for young people, parents and caregivers, service professsionals and schools. If you find incorrect information please contact us to have the relevant page updated.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any behaviour of a sexual nature that makes someone feel uncomfortable, frightened, intimidated or threatened. It is sexual behaviour that someone has not consented to, where another person uses physical or emotional force or manipulation against them. It can include anything from sexual harassment through to life threatening rape. Sexual assault is a crime and an abuse of power. Sexual assault is never the fault or responsibility of the victim/survivor.

You are required to contact police or Department of Human Services (DHS) if you are aware that a child or young person is being sexually assaulted.

Strategies

Professionals

When responding to a disclosure of sexual assault:

  • Look at: current safety of living environment, suicidal thoughts, what else do they need to feel safe?
  • Explain your role and the limits of confidentiality and that you may need to report the abuse.
  • Really hear the person – validation, affirmation and compassion are the most meaningful responses. Acknowledge the courage they have shown in speaking to you.
  • You do not need to know details of the abuse in order to provide assistance.
  • Work together to explore "where to from here". Where possible, assist adolescents to contact relevant people/services themselves.
  • Acknowledge your feelings in hearing their story. Ensure that you debrief with another professional to look after those feelings yourself.
  • Discuss strategies with the Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault or the Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line (after hours).

Children

  • There are people who can help you, no matter what you have been told. You have not done anything wrong and you are not a ‘bad person’.
  • Talk to an adult you trust or to your favourite teacher, family friend or doctor.
  • If you have told someone and nothing has changed, don’t give up! Call Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. You have the right to be safe.

Adolescents

Sometimes it can feel really confusing and scary to think about telling someone – you might be scared that you won’t be believed, or that people you love will be hurt. You might even feel that the abuse is your fault. Maybe the sex offender has threatened to hurt you, or someone you love. These can all feel like really BIG reasons not to tell, but you don’t have to cope alone. Try telling someone you trust – someone who treats you with respect and makes you feel good about yourself e.g. a friend, parent, teacher, or school counsellor/nurse. You can also call the Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (9870 7330) or the Kids Helpline (1800 332 333). Two really BIG reasons to tell someone are to make the sexual assault stop and to get some help.

Young people often tell ECASA they are glad they told someone, even though it was scary at first.

Parents/Carers

  • See the section for professionals for some strategies in dealing with disclosure.
  • Contact the Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault for guidance, advice or counselling.

Phone numbers

  • Police – Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Unit Knox. 9881 7939
  • Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line (After Hours): 1800 806 292
  • Child Protection – DHS Eastern 1300 360 391 (After Hours)

Useful Websites/Resources