What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour which can make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can take many different forms – it can be obvious or indirect, physical or verbal, repeated or one-off. It is perpetrated by males and females against people of the same or opposite sex.

Sexual harassment may include:

  • staring or leering
  • unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against you or unwelcome touching
  • suggestive comments or jokes
  • insults or taunts of a sexual nature
  • intrusive questions or statements about your private life
  • sending sexually explicit emails or text messages
  • inappropriate advances on social networking sites.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted, non-consensual sexual act, including rape. The victim may be threatened, intimated or forced to comply against their will, or may be unable to give consent because they are unconscious, asleep or incapacitated due to the effects of alcohol or other drugs.

Perpetrators of sexual assault are generally known to the victim/survivor. They might be a friend, partner, acquaintance, family member or a stranger.

Research indicates*:

  • 80% of victims/survivors knew and trusted the perpetrator
    • 17% of women reported sexual or physical violence from a current or former partner
  • 97% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by men
  • 85% of victims/survivors are women

*Supplied by CASA (Victoria)

What should I do if I'm a victim/survivor of sexual assault or rape?

The first thing you should know is that sexual assault is never the victim/survivor’s fault.

Your safety and wellbeing are most important, so please make sure you are in a safe place and seek any required medical attention as soon as you can. You can gain support through your friends, family, GP and the ACU counsellors and for staff through the employee assistance program provider, AccessEAP.

Find support

What is consent?

Consent is informed, voluntary and revocable. Consent cannot be assumed, and if it is withdrawn, the activity must stop immediately. It’s also important to understand that in some circumstances, it is impossible for a person to give consent – such as when they are mentally or physically incapable. For example, contest cannot be given by someone who is:

  • incapacitated (unconscious, incoherent, losing consciousness etc)
  • intoxicated
  • underage.
Page last updated on 23/01/2020

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