Sexual harm disclosure
Sexual harm is misuse of power and violates personal boundaries. It is not your fault.
It doesn’t matter if the harm happened recently or a long time ago; whether you’re a student or staff member; the harm occurred on campus, at a University event, during a placement, or in your personal life away from the University - support is always available.
Deakin has trained staff in responding and supporting students and staff who have experienced sexual harm.
It is up to you to decide if, where and when you seek help.
Deakin Security: 1800 062 579
What is sexual harm?
Sexual harm is any unwanted sexual behaviour that you have not agreed to. It can take many forms, ranging from touching, exposure to sexual acts, sexual images taken without consent to any form of sexual penetration.
- Sexual harm is a crime that can happen to anyone, of any age, sexual orientation, gender, cultural background or religious belief.
- Sexual harm is never the responsibility of the person who has been assaulted, and is often perpetrated by someone known to the person.
Unfortunately sexual harm is a common experience with nearly 1 in 5 (19 per cent) women and 1 in 20 (4.5 per cent) men in Australia affected (ABS Personal Safety Survey 2012).
Consent is agreement to an action or arrangement. It must be given without fear, coercion or manipulation. When it comes to sex, you can agree to some actions or arrangements, but not others. You cannot consent if you are:
- asleep, unconscious or significantly affected by drugs or alcohol
- unable to understand what you are consenting to
- pressured or coerced to have sex because of threats, force, fear, or harm to yourself or someone else.
- under the age of consent.
Every person's experience is different; you might be clear about your experience or struggling to name what happened to you. After an incident of sexual harm, it is important to have options and make decisions within your own choice and capacity.
After disclosing an incident of sexual harm the victim needs to:
- be believed
- feel safe
- get medical attention (if the harm 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, don't judge
- believe, be there and give comfort
- inform and encourage them to seek support
- be patient and supportive of their choices
- acknowledge your feelings and get support for yourself.