Sexual Assault disclosure
At Deakin we have no tolerance for sexual assault or harassment. So if you, or someone you know, needs to report a concern we can help.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is any behaviour of a sexual nature that makes someone feel uncomfortable, frightened, intimidated or threatened which has not been agreed to. For further information, refer to the Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA)'s fact sheet What is sexual assault?
Supporting the victim
After a sexual assault the victim needs to:
- be believed
- feel safe
- get medical attention (if the assault has occurred recently)
- be assured that it wasn’t their fault
- take control of their life and make decisions that are in their best interest at the time (remember that these choices and decisions may and can change).
Things you can do to help
- Listen to what the person has to say. Try not to interrupt or ask lots of questions
- Let them tell you at their own pace. Don't worry if they stop talking for a while, silences are OK - you don't have to rush to fill them with words.
- When they have finished speaking, thank them for trusting you to confide in.
- Allow the person to make decisions about what to do next.
- However well-intentioned you might be – do not force the person to make a decision
- Here are some things you can say:
"I’m sorry this has happened to you. What do you need right now?”
“Is there someone I can call for you?”
“What do you want to happen?”
- The best way to provide support to someone who has disclosed a sexual assault is to believe them. People rarely make up stories about sexual assault.
- Try not to judge. It is not helpful to say things like:"
‘Were you drunk/stoned?’
'What were you doing there?'
‘What were you wearing?”
‘You know what s/he's like, you shouldn't have gone out with her/him.'
‘Why didn’t you fight back?’
“Why didn’t you tell someone earlier?’
These questions remove accountability from the perpetrator. The person who has been assaulted is probably thinking the very same thing and blaming themselves for what happened.
- Remember - sexual assault is never the fault of the person who has been assaulted.
- You can help the person decide on the best course of action by providing them with information.
- A supportive and non-judgemental place to start is by contacting Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) or after-hours the Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACL). There will always be someone on the other end of the phone who you or the victim/survivor can talk to and receive confidential advice by calling for the nearest centre.
- A CASA counsellor is also present one day a week on the Burwood, Geelong and Warrnambool campuses. Appointments can be arranged by contacting Counselling.
- Reporting the assault to police is an important, personal decision only the victim/survivor can make. Specially qualified police officers at Sexual Offences and Child Investigation Team (SOCITs) are trained to respond to reports of sexual assault. Locations are listed on the Victoria Police website (www.police.gov.au).
- Remember in an emergency dial 000.
- Safer Community staff can also assist with information, advice and referrals for members of the Deakin community during business hours
Be patient and accept their choice of what to do about the sexual assault – don’t be overly protective
- Ask them what they need.
- Help them list their options, then encourage them to make their own decisions, even if you disagree.
- It is very important that they make their own decisions and have them respected (remember these things were taken from them by the perpetrator)
- It may be too overwhelming for the victim/survivor to deal with your angry feelings as well as their own. If you have strong or angry feelings or feelings of blame toward the survivor, you can talk to a friend or a counsellor at CASA or SACL.
- People who experience sexual assault often feel a great deal of shame and guilt. The person has chosen to tell you and it is important that you respect their trust and not talk about what they have told you with your other friends or colleagues, except those who are in a position, professionally, to provide further support and assistance to both you and the person making the disclosure about the assault.
Sexual assault reporting at Deakin University
Where a member of the Deakin University community receives a disclosure of sexual assault they are advised to follow the information below:
Contact Safer Community
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
Ph: 9244 3734 or 9244 6851 or 9244 6105
Business hours response
- Where appropriate Safer Community staff will provide phone support and triage.
- During the initial phone consultation Safer Community staff will speak directly to the victim/survivor or the person supporting the victim/survivor, to obtain information and provide advice around the victim/survivor’s safety and wellbeing and ameliorate any ongoing risk.
- Safer Community staff can provide information and advice regarding supports at the university, as well as information about reporting to police.
- Safer Community staff will offer an in person appointment as soon as practical in consultation with the victim/survivor.
- If the victim/survivor does not want to engage with Safer Community, Safer Community staff will provide advice and information to the member of the Deakin Community supporting the victim/survivor, in order to empower the person to make informed choices and decisions with consideration of their circumstances.
Contact the Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACL)
ph: 1800 806 292
After hours response
- A qualified counsellor/advocate from the Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACL) can speak to the victim/survivor and inform them of their choices and options regarding their safety, counselling, reporting options with the police and support services.
- If the victim/survivor is reporting a recent sexual assault, SACL will detail the process of reporting to police, including the option of a forensic medical examination and counselling. If the victim/survivor chooses to make a report to police and undergo a forensic examination SACL will facilitate this.
Only the victim/survivor can make a decision about reporting a sexual assault to police.
- If a victim/survivor choses to report a sexual assault to police, they are advised to contact the nearest Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Investigation Team (SOCITs)
- If urgent police assistance is required dial 000