October is Sexual Violence Awareness Month, and today we acknowledged that everyone deserves to live in a society free from the threat of sexual violence. By seeking help and talking to someone, we can raise our voices and help end domestic and family violence.
What is sexual violence?
Sexual violence is any sexual activity where consent is not given. Sadly 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Sexual violence occurs any time a person is forced, coerced, or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity. It is common for acts such as rape, to be committed by intimate partners or family member rather than ‘strangers’ in the community. There are many types of sexual violence that can also be verbal or emotional, and not always involve physical contact.
How can we prevent it?
The physical and emotional reactions to rape committed by someone you know can be just as powerful as ‘stranger’ rape. Sometimes rape can involve drug or alcohol consumption which may lead to self-blame by the survivor. Survivors must not blame themselves. No one deserves or asks to be raped.
If you witness a sexual violence incident in the workplace, you must report it to your supervisor. This may include an inappropriate comment, emotional manipulation, or unconsented actions. We all have a role to play in preventing this form of violence in our workplace and community.
Who to speak to?
If you have been affected by sexual violence there is a range of support available to you. Sexual violence is never acceptable, and all incidents of abuse must be reported to the police no matter how small it may seem. If reporting to authorities is not available for you, there are a range of other options including safehouses and service providers that help individuals, especially women, to leave an abusive relationship.
At Women Empowerment and Leadership, we are always here to help and give professional advice if you are currently or have been affected by sexual violence and harassment. Otherwise, a list of confidential hotlines and available services are listed below.
- 24-hour Sexual Assault Helpline 1800 010 120
- 24-hour DVConnect Womensline 1800 811 811
- 24-hour National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service 1800 737 732
- Kids Helpline (aged 5-25) 1800 551 800
- 24-hour DVConnect Mensline 1800 600 636
- Men’s Referral Service, for men who have anger, relationship or parenting issues 1300 766 491
- Northside Sexual Assault Network Queensland Sexual Assault Network | Facebook
- Brisbane R&I Survivors Support Centre BRISSC | Brisbane Rape and Incest Survivors Support Centre
- Headspace Find a centre – Australia wide | headspace
- UnitingCare Australia Escaping Violence Payment | Uniting Vic.Tas (unitingvictas.org.au)
UnitingCare Australia is currently partnering with the Australian government in Escaping Violence Payment Program, offering financial payments for domestic violence victims who are seeking to leave abusive relationships. Information can be found here: Escaping Violence Payment | Uniting Vic.Tas (unitingvictas.org.au)
Many survivors experience psychological trauma after an attack, including psychological and emotional changes such stomach or digestive problems, headaches or sleeplessness. Talking to someone is the first step that can raise awareness of the services and support that is available for you. We are all in this together, and by changing the way we respond to sexual violence we can all play our part in raising awareness and preventing domestic and sexual violence for our friends, family and community.