Everyone has the right to feel safe and to live without fear. There are a number of potentially unsafe situations you might come across in your everyday life. These might include travelling alone on public transport (especially at night), walking alone in deserted areas, and going out partying with friends.
Assaults and rapes are serious crimes, whether committed by a stranger or someone you know. Call the police straight away or talk to somebody that you can trust about the incident.
Domestic violence can occur in many forms and can affect people of any age. If someone is hurting you, it can be very frightening and it may be hard to know how you can stop it. It is important to remember that no one has the right to be violent towards you and there are people out there who can help.
Below are some of the forms that domestic violence may take:
Physical - If someone is hurting you then you will probably have to take some action. Some forms of physical violence are: pushing, shaking, slapping, forcing you to do sexual things against your will, throwing things at you, damaging your property, hurting or killing pets.
Emotional - This form of violence is often unrecognised and can be very hurtful. Some forms of emotional violence are making threats, speaking in a way that is frightening, putting you down, and emotional blackmail.
Economic - Having money and being able to make decisions about it, is one means of being independent. If someone is controlling your money, keeping you financially dependent, or making you ask for money unreasonably, then this is a form of violence.
Social - This form of violence may happen in conjunction with other forms. If someone is insulting you or teasing you in front of other people, keeping you isolated from family and friends, controlling what you do and where you go, then they are being violent and you may need to take some action.
Spiritual - This violence is about not allowing you to have your own opinions about religion, cultural beliefs, and values.
Keeping yourself safe from domestic assault
Being safe from domestic assault is important and there are things you can do to ensure your safety.
- Is there immediate danger? How likely is it that someone would hurt you? If necessary, you may have to move to somewhere safe.
- Do you have support? Making a decision to leave a situation where you feel unsafe may be hard and scary. If possible, talk to someone you trust, like a friend, a counsellor or youth worker.
- Talk to the police: If you feel unsafe, the police are good people to talk to. If you or someone you know has been hurt, the police will be able to help.
- Believe in yourself: If someone is hurting you or threatening to, it can be hard to maintain your self-confidence. Remember it is NEVER OK for someone to hurt or threaten to hurt you.
- Know your rights: It may be a good idea to check out your legal rights. Laws vary from state to state.
Sexual assault is a criminal offence. It includes sexual harassment, unwanted touching, indecent assault and penetration of any kind. It is important to remember that it can happen to anyone and at any time but certain precautions may make it more difficult for a possible perpetrator:
- When socialising, be smart. Drink in a way that leaves you in control. Leaving a drink unattended leaves it open to being spiked quite easily.
- Walk with confidence and purpose.
- Avoid lonely or dark places.
- Be wary of strangers, whether they are on foot, in cars or at parties.
- Be aware of the people around you.
- Trust your intuition.
- If placed in a situation where you feel uncomfortable say "No!" loudly and with conviction.
In order to catch the attacker, the police need your help. You can help the police by:
- Taking the name or address of any witness, if you know it.
- Trying to remember exactly what the attacker looked like, take notice of any scars, tattoos, piercings or any distinguishing marks that could identify the attacker.
- If a car was involved, try to note the colour, model and registration number.
What do I do if I am sexually assaulted?
It is very difficult to tell someone that you have been sexually assaulted. It is important to remember that sexual assault is a serious crime and can happen to people regardless of their gender or sexuality. Your first point of contact should be the Police or the closest Sexual Assault Service.
Finding the right time and courage for you to talk about these issues is important. Relationships are a key part of our lives.
- From a public phone or mobile phone, ring the police on 000. Callers who are deaf or have a hearing impairment can call through the National Relay Service on Tel.1800 555 677 and quote 1800 200 526. If you require translating assistance make it known to the person you approach to make your report and a translator will be obtained for you. If you do get attacked, you do not need to go to the police station to report an assault - you can be interviewed in your own home if you prefer. These crimes are dealt with sympathetically, regardless of sex.
- Do not wash, shower, change clothes or clean up in any way until after talking to the police and going to the hospital. You could destroy vital evidence.
- Don't drink alcohol or take tranquillisers or other drugs as you will have to give a clear account of what has happened.
- Try to remember everything you can about your attacker.
- Remember, you are the victim. You have nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about. Police officers are aware that a person, who has been assaulted sexually or otherwise, is likely to be suffering from emotional shock. They will do all they can to make things as easy as possible for you. It is likely they will provide a female police officer for a female victim. If not, you have the right to request one. You can also ask the police to contact a friend, family member, interpreter or religious adviser to be in attendance with you when you are dealing with the circumstances surrounding the report of assault.
Free and Confidential services
- National Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault helpline Tel: 1800 200 526 to talk with experienced counsellors 24 hours
- Violence Against Women, Australian Says No (Specialises in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault counselling and referrals) – Tel: 1800 200 526
- The Sexual Assault Crisis Line Victoria (SACL) is a state-wide, after-hours, confidential, telephone crisis counselling service for victim/survivors of both past and recent sexual assault. SACL operates between 5pm weeknights through to 9am the next day and throughout weekends and public holidays. Tel: 1800 806 292
- Police emergency contact line for sexual assault, Tel: 03 9349 1212
- Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA) offer a range of services and referrals. Call their free and confidential 24-hour emergency hotline on 1800 806 292.
- State and Territory crisis and service numbers and more can be found on the ReachOut Australia website.