What constitutes sexual assault?

Date: Apr 17, 2019

Did you know that one in five women and one in 20 men in Australia have been sexually assaulted and/or threatened? This data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) highlights a common and concerning issue our communities face.

Despite its prevalence, cases of sexual assault are under-reported to authorities, meaning the above figures may only be the tip of the iceberg. Only 39 per cent of persons aged 18 years and over who experienced sexual assault in the 12 months from 2016 and 2017 reported their most recent incident to police, according to the ABS.

There are a number of reasons why victims may not report their ordeals, including a lack of information on what constitutes sexual assault. In an effort to encourage those who feel they have been wrongly abused to come forward, we're explaining exactly what sexual assault is and what falls under this term.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is a term used to describe a broad range of sexual crimes committed against a person. It's also known by other names including:

  • Sexual abuse/harassment/molestation.
  • Indecent behaviour/assault.
  • Feeling up.
  • Touching up.
  • Rape.

No matter how it's referred to, all forms of sexual abuse are never the fault of the victim.

What are some examples of sexual assault offences?

Sexual abuse crimes can range from kissing or touching a person to penetration of the victim's body. In all instances, if it is unwanted behaviour by one or a group of people without consent, it becomes a serious sexual offence. 

In NSW consent must be given voluntarily and freely. This means that if an individual gains consent through lies, manipulation or any means other than the person's free will, it does not stand. A person is not deemed to have the capacity to consent if they have consumed drugs or alcohol to the extent they are incoherent and unable to communicate properly.

If you feel like you've been sexually abused or feel like you need more clarification, it's important to not only speak with a close friend or family member, but also a specialist sexual assault legal service. The team here at Gerard Malouf & Partners are specially trained to deal with these types of cases and can help you understand what has happened to you and what your options are.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.