Working together to stop sexual violence
What is sexual violence?
Sexual violence includes sexual assault and sexual threats, including coercive behaviours*.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is a type of sexual violence that involves any physical contact, or intent of contact, of a sexual nature against a person’s will, using physical force, intimidation or coercion*.
Sexual assault includes offences such as rape, sodomy, buggery, oral sex, incest, carnal knowledge, unlawful sexual intercourse, indecent assault, and assault with intent to rape or commit an unnatural offence. It excludes pornography and prostitution*.
Reporting Sexual Assault
Many sexual assault cases will not make it to court and many prosecutions will fail due to a lack of physical evidence. The Sexual Assault Response Guide will help victims provide police with more evidence and information to support their case.
How many people have been sexually assaulted in Australia?
The ABS Personal Safety Survey (2016) found approximately one in six women (17% or 1.6 million) and one in 25 men (4.3% or 385,000) had experienced at least one sexual assault since the age of 15. More than 200,000 Australian adults had experienced sexual assault in the 12 months before the survey was conducted. Most of these assaults were not reported to police.
How many sexual assaults are reported to police?
Only approximately 10% of all sexual assaults are reported to police each year.
Why don’t people immediately report a sexual assault to police?
A sexual assault is a significant traumatic event and victims will experience a range of emotions and thoughts following the attack. As a result, they may delay reporting or not report the assault.
Reasons for not reporting to police include, but are not limited to:
- shame and self-blame
- alcohol and drugs consumption (both voluntary and ‘spiked’)
- loss of consciousness and being unsure what happened
- fear of retaliation
- slut shaming from friends and family (lack of support)
- fear of not being believed
- knowing the offender (and their family)
- it didn’t happen like the ‘Hollywood’ portrayal of rape
- lack of education about what sexual assault and consent is
- flight or fawning response (compartmentalisation of trauma) during the attack
- lack of faith in the legal system or concerns about the reporting process.
In an Australian Bureau of Statics Personal Safety Survey conducted in 2016 almost 90% of women (554,000) who experienced an aggravated sexual assault by a male in the previous 10 years did not contact police.
How many people are charged after a report is made?
Only 30% of sexual assault reports led to an arrest, summons, formal caution or other legal action.
Do people make false reports about sexual assault?
Studies show between 1-5% of complaints regarding sexual assault are withdrawn or found to be false by police each year. This may occur because there is not enough evidence to press charges, police do not believe the complainant, another person (not the alleged victim) made the initial complaint and the victim does not want to proceed, or another reason.
Statistics also show people are more likely to make a false insurance claim than falsely claim to have been sexually assaulted. In Australia, 10% of insurance claims are believed to be fabricated or fraudulent. This is compared to less than 1% of rape cases proved to be false complaints as referenced by the Queensland Police.
There is no evidence that women are more likely than men to lie about a crime.
- Myths and facts about sexual violence.
- Challenging misconceptions about sexual offending.
- Men are more likely to be raped than falsely accused of rape.
- Guys, you can stop worrying about false rape allegations. They’re extremely rare.
How many sexual assault charges lead to a conviction?
How many reports remain unsolved?
According to this article, more than 35 per cent of reported sexual assaults remain unsolved.
Sexual Assault Response Guide
The Sexual Assault Response Guide shows people how to collect evidence following a sexual assault and encourages victims to seek early support from a trusted person and a medical professional.