What is sexual assault and why is it a problem?

Sexual assault is defined as any act that makes a person feel uncomfortable, intimidated or frightened.

Sexual assault can be committed against both men and women and can be committed by both men and women. However, women aged between 16 and 24 are most commonly victims to this form of abuse.

Firstly, let’s learn the facts. 

  • Most cases of sexual assault are committed by men against women
  • Most victims of sexual assault know or have recently met the perpetrator
  • Most acts of sexual assault are also criminal offences and therefore illegal
  • Most sexual assault cases are not reported to the police
  • There are limitations in the justice system and evidence is hard to provide in many cases
  • Sexual assault is a form of abuse of power

Sexual assault occurs in many forms including:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Unwanted touching
  • Stalking
  • Posting of sexual images without consent
  • Use of drugs and alcohol to impair a person’s capacity to make sexual choices
  • Any unwanted sexual act such as rape

Why is the problem persisting?

When most people think about sexual assault they imagine a stranger jumping out at a vulnerable victim in a dark alley. Although this may happen in some cases it is very rare. This is a very common belief held by many in society alongside many other misconceptions surrounding the issue.

Education levels of both men and women regarding the issue of sexual assault are significantly low with many schools and communities focusing on stranger rape and other forms of sexual assault rather than the most common form date rape. Sexual assault is one of the most difficult offences to prosecute with approximately 85% of cases never coming to the attention of the criminal justice system (NSW Rape Crisis Centre, 2007) . This is a result of under reporting stemming from the blurred definition and trust by many in the mythologies associated with it.

By generating conversation, the truth behind these misconceptions will be uncovered leading to a higher understanding and awareness. This will further lead to higher rates of reporting and prosecution.

It’s time to stop the silence.

– CD


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