Sexual assaults went up in 2020 but no one is talking about it. Australian victims of crime statistics released on 24 June showed 2020 had the highest number of sexual assaults recorded in 28 years and 46% of victims were children under 15 years.
But no one is talking about it.
No one is panicking that sexual assault numbers are going up. The Federal Government isn’t holding a media conference to announce multi-million-dollar initiatives to address the scourge of sexual violence in our communities. Mainstream media is not running non-stop coverage and interviewing experts in the field of sexual violence – community workers, researchers, police, domestic violence shelters, victims, government agencies, charities, advocates – to help identify and share possible solutions and continue to pressure for institutional change.
Would mainstream media argue no one wants to hear about the increase because these issues were covered so heavily earlier this year? Would they say people want to move on and it is old news?
How can we move on when the Australian Bureau of Statistics states, “Family and domestic violence [FDV] related sexual assault increased 13% from 2019” in 2020? Increased FDV is unsurprising in a year of lockdowns, home schooling, and work-from-home or no work at all. When you are stuck in a house with your abuser, there is no escape.
But, the fact more people are reporting incidents of sexual violence overall – when we know around 90% never report to police – suggests we are seeing a very real increase.
If these were numbers for 2021, we might say reporting increases are partially attributed to the outstanding work of women like Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins and Chanel Contos. Their advocacy and sharing of personal stories have helped so many people feel more comfortable discussing and reporting sexual assault. But we’re talking about 2020 – the year before the mass mobilisation of women like me shouting “Enough is Enough” at marches across Australia. Yet, even now the silence is deafening.
Sexual violence flourishes in the shadows. It grows in environments of complacency and limited government accountability or interest in making real changes (even within its own ranks). It continues (as it always has) when the media moves the spotlight elsewhere.
Sexual violence has been bad in this country for a very long time. Almost every woman I know has experienced it or been impacted by it when they were a child or as an adult. Our problem with sexual violence continues even while we ride out a pandemic and face the myriad of other challenges we have before us. It is our problem because it is everyone’s problem to solve. We need to talk about these statistics. Why aren’t we?
PLEASE SHARE THIS ARTICLE so we can make sure everyone knows about the increase. It’s time to WORK TOGETHER TO STOP SEXUAL VIOLENCE.
View the statistics: https://www.abs.gov.au/…/recorded-crime…/latest-release
Lucretia Ackfield is an author and advocate for women and healthy love. She founded the Stop Sexual Violence Collaboration (SSV Collab) in 2021 to bring together individuals and enterprises to discuss and facilitate sexual violence prevention and response initiatives.