Pregnancy as a result of sexual assault
‘Sexual assault’ is defined by the Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) as ‘any sexual behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened’.
An estimated 1.2 million women in Australia aged 18 and over have experienced sexual assault or its threat. One in six adult women over the age of 15 have been sexually assaulted.
We listen to many women’s experiences of unplanned pregnancy as a result of sexual contact they did not freely agree (consent) to. The Women’s recognises that: ‘The crime of sexual assault is one of the most violating experiences anyone can endure. It can have immediate, short and long term effects on physical and emotional well being.’
Our aim is to help women who have been assaulted to access any of the support, medical, clinical and legal services they need.
Decision-making in these circumstances
Individual women vary in their responses to an unplanned pregnancy as a result of sexual assault. Pregnancy Advice Service (PAS) recognises that it is crucial that women have control over this decision. Women may find that talking to PAS or the Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) can help them clarify their decision. There are a number of options women may wish to consider while in the care of the Women’s.
Sexual assault and women’s rights
Victim/survivors of sexual assault have the right to a full range of emotional, medical and legal support options. CASA provides such support, information and advocacy services.
If you are a victim/survivor of sexual assault, you may wish to report the sexual assault to police. If you terminate the pregnancy, you may request forensic evidence be collected at the time of the procedure. This would require you to speak to a police officer and CASA can support you to understand your legal rights.
You may also choose not to report to police or not have forensic evidence collected. This decision is entirely up to you. (Child protection laws may affect a young person’s rights to confidentiality and privacy. Our service will provide you with information about your rights throughout this process.)
Support services at the Women’s for women who have experienced violence
Skilled and supportive female counsellor/advocates and social workers support women during the initial phone call to our service. Experiences may be difficult to talk about, but counselling staff can assist women to discuss as little or as much as they wish.
Other support services include:
- emotional support
- decision-making support
- referral – to CASA House (part of the Women’s), the police, medical staff, other community services.
You may also wish for additional support in medical examinations or in the operating theatre and this can be discussed at any time.
The Women’s understands some women will prefer to see female medical practitioners and will do its best to provide this.
- Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACSSA), citing ‘Women’s Safety Survey 1995’, <http://www.aifs.gov.au/acssa/statistics.html#safetysurvey>, viewed 9 June 2010.
- CASA House, Royal Women’s Hospital, <http://www.thewomens.org.au/impactandconsequences>, viewed 9 June 2010.
The Women’s does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. The Women’s provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.