Sexual assault is defined as any sexual behaviour that makes a person feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened. It is sexual activity to which a person does not consent.
|The use of emotional or physical violence to force another person to engage in sexual activity also constitutes sexual assault. Sexual assault can take various forms, some of which are criminal offences:|
- touching, fondling, kissing
- being made to look at, or pose for, pornographic photos
- verbal harassment/innuendo
- incest/intrafamilial child sexual assault
|Sexual assault is a crime|
- against both the individual and society.
- predominantly experienced by women and children. Men do experience sexual assaults, although the incidence is much lower.
- common within families. The offender is rarely a stranger and is often someone that the victim/survivor knows and trusts, such as a family member or friend.
- in the main perpetrated by men who abuse a position of trust, authority and power.
|The sexual assault counselling service operated by the Royal Women's Hospital, CASA House, provides 24 hour services to young people, women and men. |
|CASA House is committed to ensuring that the silence which surrounds sexual assault continues to be broken and that victim/survivors are provided with necessary support.|
|Our services are free and confidential and available to:|
- all victim/survivors of recent and past sexual assault regardless of gender
- non-offending family members, partners and friends
- professional individuals and groups
- health, community support and legal agencies
|CASA House offers:|
- 24 hour crisis care services
- counselling and follow up support and advocacy service
- public involvement in campaigns and projects, and community and professional education.
Men and sexual assault
|Fifteen per cent of service users at CASA house are men, predominantly victim/survivors of child sexual assault perpetrated against them by men and adolescent boys.|
|Some common misconceptions about men and sexual assault include:|
- a strong man can't be raped (he must have consented)
- men are perpetrators of sexual assault not the victims
- only gay men are raped
- only gay men rape other men
|Beliefs such as these can be barriers to men accessing support and counselling. Sexual assault can have significant short and long term consequences for victim/survivors.|
About CASA House
|There are three venues for CASA House. They are:|
- 3rd Floor, Queen Victoria Women's Centre, 210 Lonsdale St, Melbourne.
The physical distance from the medical and clinical environment of the hospital reinforces the message that people who access our service are not ill.
- a Crisis Care Unit located at the Women's where victim/survivors of recent sexual assault receive information about their legal and medical rights. The Crisis Care Unit has been designed and furnished to create a comfortable, non-medical environment.
- weekly outreach services conducted at the Craigieburn campus of the Dianella Community Health Service and Anglicare Broadmedows.
Our position on sexual assault
- Sexual assault is a violation of human rights and is a crime against the individual and the community. It is not solely an individual or private problem.
- Sexual assault is both a consequence and reinforcer of the power disparity between men and women. It is a violent act of power which in the main, is carried out by men against women and children.
- Sexual assault has far reaching emotional, social, legal, health and political consequences.
- The prevention and elimination of sexual assault is the responsibility of the whole community.
|An important feature of CASA House's service is to use language consistent with our philosophy and to communicate the approach taken by the agency. When referring to victim/survivors of sexual assault we use the feminine pronoun to acknowledge that the vast majority of victim/survivors are women. Conversely, we refer to offenders as 'he' because most offenders of sexual assault are men.|
|Men and boys are also victim/survivors of sexual assault and we do not wish to deny or minimise their experiences. The decision to use gendered language is based on analysis of statistical data provided by police reports, hospital records, sexual assault centres and other research. These sources indicate that overwhelmingly sexual assault is perpetrated against women and children.|
|Some other examples of the terminology we use are:|
- Centre Against Sexual Assault - to indicate that we are working towards the elimination of sexual assault
- Victim/Survivor - to emphasis the capacity of people who have been sexually assaulted to survive the experience.
- Counsellor/Advocate - to emphasise the role of the worker. We provide counselling and support, but also advocate on behalf of victim/survivors
Rights of victim/survivors of sexual assault
|CASA house is founded on respect for the rights of victim/survivors to:|
- communicate in their own language, with an interpreter if necessary
- be treated with sensitivity and understanding
- be given relevant and accurate information about options
- have control over their choices
- have confidentiality and privacy maintained