What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault and abuse is any type of sexual activity that you do not agree to, including:
- Inappropriate touching
- Vaginal, anal, or oral penetration
- Sexual intercourse that you say no to
- Sexual intercourse you did not consent to
- Attempted rape
- Sexual abuse of a child
Sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Examples of this are voyeurism (when someone watches private sexual acts), exhibitionism (when someone exposes him/herself in public), incest (sexual contact between family members), and sexual harassment. It can happen in different situations: in the home by someone you know, on a date, or by a stranger in an isolated place. It is most commonly an assault by someone known to the person including family members. Sexual assault happens to children, women and men.
SAS – Sexual Assault Services provides services for women, children and men who have been victims of sexual assault whether in the recent past or any other time in their life. The Counsellor Advocates working in this service will help by responding to the most important issues first. No-one has the same story or experience and at SAS you can expect understanding of your unique circumstances. At the same time there are some common themes in thoughts and feelings after sexual assault and it can help be helpful to know you are not alone with how you feel.
What you can do?
Everyone needs support and the right support is the one that works for you. Some people prefer to rely on friends and family, while others prefer to include professional supports in their recovery. We believe that recovery from the trauma of sexual abuse is possible. You must:
- Contact us and seek a counselling advocacy service.
- Work out which friends or family members are those you will include for support.
- Talk about your fears and worries when you are ready to.
- Make a safety plan: safety is a term used to refer to your physical, social and emotional wellbeing.
- Consider your choices, one of which is whether to report the crime.
Care after yourself
See a Counsellor Advocate and find out more about how to care for yourself after sexual assault.
What is counselling?
Counselling is an opportunity to have a meaningful and private conversation with a professional person about your experience. It will be purposeful – the counsellor advocate will help you to make goals for change and to review progress at times, checking whether changes have been achieved.
Counsellor advocates listen to you and respect your position. For some people the counselling space is the first experience of being listened to in a respectful manner. Being listened to is a helpful experience for a person who has been through the traumatic experience of sexual assault as it provides a witness to the otherwise unwitnessed event.
Counselling is professional. Counsellor advocates have a range of professional knowledge and skill to assist you to recover from trauma. They will use this to help you to learn more about how you feel and how your body is reacting to what has happened. Most people find this very helpful.
What is advocacy?
Advocacy is a form of assistance beyond the counselling room. Many people find it hard to know what to do or who to contact after a sexual assault and a Counsellor Advocate will help. They may place phone calls to other services to assist with referrals and they may advocate for you to receive services you are entitled to. Alternatively your Counsellor Advocate may act as an advocate to ensure your rights are maintained in settings such as court rooms, crisis care units or in any place where you need support.