Sexual Violence and Harassment
If you have experienced sexual violence or harassment, we want you to know it’s not your fault and you’re not alone. We’d like to help, if that works for you.
Sexual harassment is a specific and serious form of harassment. It is unwelcome sexual behaviour, which could be expected to make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can be physical, spoken or written.
Just because someone does not object to inappropriate behaviour at the time, it does not mean that they are consenting to the behaviour.
There are specific sexual harassment provisions for educational institutions in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Section 28F.
Examples may include, but are not limited to:
- comments about a person’s private life or the way they look
- sexually suggestive behaviour, such as leering or staring
- brushing up against someone, touching, fondling or hugging
- sexually suggestive comments or jokes
- repeated unwanted requests to go out or requests for sex
- sexually explicit posts on social networking sites, emails or text messages.
Sexual violence is any behaviour of a sexual nature that makes someone feel uncomfortable, frightened, intimidated or threatened. Sexual violence occurs any time a person is coerced or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity, such as touching, sexual harassment and intimidation, forced marriage, trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, sexual assault and rape.
Sexual Assault and Consent
Consent – or the lack of it – is an important part of legal and social definitions of sexual assault. The legal definition of consent is ‘free agreement’. La Trobe University holds the standard of ‘affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.’
Capacity to give consent is based on the person:
- being of legal age (16 years in Victoria and NSW)
- being sober: if someone is drunk, stoned or ‘out of it’, their ability to make decisions is so impaired, so they are not able to give affirmative consent
- having the mental and physical ability to freely agree: a person has to have the mental and physical ability to make decisions and to communicate their desires.
The law says there is no valid consent where:
- threats have been made, including to harm themselves or someone else
- a party is detained against their will
- a party is asleep, unconscious, affected by drugs or alcohol
- a party is unable to understand the sexual nature of the act
- a party is unclear about the identity of the person performing the act
- a party is mistaken in believing the act is for medical or hygienic purposes.
Examples of sexual violence include, but are not limited to:
- rape, rape by compelling or coercive penetration, sexual assault
- unwanted kissing or touching or compelling unwanted sexual touching and stalking
- obscene gestures and indecent exposure
- pressuring for dates or demand for sex via coercive means or threats
- sharing intimate photographs via digital means without consent
- unwanted, offensive and invasive interpersonal communication via mobile phones, internet social networking sites and email.
Image-Based Abuse and Sextortion
Image-based abuse occurs when intimate, nude or sexual images are distributed without the consent of those pictured. It can also include the threat of sharing images without consent unless certain demands are met (sextortion). These images can be real, altered (i.e. Photoshopped), or drawn pictures or videos. Image-based abuse is sometimes referred to as "revenge porn", but this terminology is misleading.
Help for myself
Are you in immediate danger? If you are in immediate danger or seriously injured, please call 000 (or 0 000 from University phones).
Find a place where you feel safe. If an incident has just occurred and a safe place cannot be located, consider contacting Campus Security (03 9479 2222) for assistance.
If you have experienced sexual violence or assault, please consider contacting the Centres Against Sexual Assault. They will listen, believe and support you in making decisions which are right for you. The information you provide will not be reported back to the University, and you will be provided with support and reporting options. Outside of regular business hours you can contact the Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292. Please note, if you are based at Bundoora, you may be able to access services from the Northern Centre Against Sexual Assault on campus. For more information, please contact Northern CASA on 03 9496 2240 and identify yourself as a La Trobe student.
Consider contacting Speak Up. We will listen, believe and support you in determining a course of action which is right for you. Call us on 03 9479 8988, or click Connect with Speak Up below.
If you’re not ready to contact a support service, confiding in someone you trust – a friend, family member, co-worker or counsellor – may help.
Help for someone else
If you’re worried about someone else, there are things you can do to help.
Are they in immediate danger? If they are in immediate danger or seriously injured, please call 000 (or 0 000 from University phones).
Find a place where they feel safe. If an incident has just occurred and a safe place cannot be located, suggest contacting Campus Security (03 9479 2222) for assistance.
Listen. Believe. Support.
- encourage them to talk, without putting words in their mouth. Let them express how they are feeling. (Be prepared – there may be long bouts of silence as they process their thoughts),
- reassure them that what has happened is not their fault,
- focus on listening rather than questioning. The victim/survivor may not have the capacity to describe their feelings or articulate their preferred course of action. Remember: it's not up to you to gather information or pass judgement about the specifics of the incident(s),
- consider suggesting they contact family, a close friend or the Centres Against Sexual Assault,
- respect the victim/survivor’s decisions. Only they can decide whether to contact anyone else, and whether they wish to proceed with a report (to police or the University).There are a lot of reasons why someone may choose not to report sexual violence, and this choice should be respected.
Consider contacting Speak Up. We can help you provide reasonable support through recommending options and resources. You will not need to disclose the name of the person impacted to us unless we believe there is a genuine threat to their health and safety. Call us on 03 9479 8988, or click Connect with Speak Up below.
If you’re not ready to contact Speak Up, confiding in someone you trust – a friend, family member, co-worker or counsellor – may help, but please do not provide them with names or identifying details without the victim/survivor’s permission
La Trobe University prohibits retaliation against anyone involved in a notification or complaint of unacceptable behaviour.
Victimisation is subjecting or threatening to subject someone to a detriment because they have asserted their rights, made a complaint, helped someone else make a complaint, or refused to do something because it would be discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation. Victimisation is against the law.
It is also victimisation to threaten someone (such as a witness) who may be involved in investigating a concern or complaint.
Victimisation is a very serious breach of policy and may result in formal discipline against the perpetrator.