Sexual assaults are traumatic experiences that can happen to anyone in the community, regardless of age, gender, cultural background and social status.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that, in 2012, 17 per cent of women and 4 per cent of men aged over 18 had experienced sexual assault since the age of 15.
Furthermore, 15 per cent of all women had been attacked by someone they knew – far more than the percentage of females who were assaulted by a stranger (3.8 per cent).
People who are victims of such incidents may be eligible for compensation, but may be confused about what constitutes sexual assault in the eyes of the law. Let’s take a closer look at the legal definitions for these crimes.
Division 10 of the Crimes Act 1900 outlines the criminal offence of sexual assault, as well as the definitions for ‘sexual intercourse’ and other related terminology.
Put simply, sexual assault constitutes any unwanted sexual behaviour committed by one person or a group of people towards another without consent.
Giving consent requires free and voluntary agreement to sexual interactions, which cannot occur when the person is:
Vulnerable people or those under the age of 16 are considered unable to consent in any circumstances.
For more information on the exact terminology used for sexual assault, indecent assault and aggravated sexual assault cases, please visit the NSW government’s justice department webpage.
Sexual assault often has a devastating impact on victims’ lives, sometimes causing both physical and psychological symptoms long after incidents have occurred.
In some circumstances, large organisations may be complicit in sexual assaults or abuse. For example, various religious groups have recently been under fire for ignoring or covering up instances of child abuse perpetrated by members of the church.
The allegations against the church led to thousands of dollars in compensation for victims, some of whom were abused many decades ago.