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Sexual harm

Sexual harm is a crime and misuse of power, violating personal boundaries. It is not your fault, and it's not acceptable within our community or on our campuses.

Sexual harm

Whether the harm occurred recently or a long time ago, on campus, at a University event, during a placement, or in your personal life away from the University – support is always available.

Report sexual harm

What is sexual harm?

Sexual harm is any unwanted, non-consensual behaviour of a sexual nature. Sexual harm includes sexual assault, rape, sexual harassment and any other unwanted sexual behaviour, whether online or in person.

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.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment involves an unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which, in the circumstances, a reasonable person, aware of those circumstances, would anticipate the possibility that the person would feel offended, humiliated, or intimidated.

Behaviours that are considered sexual harassment include:

  • leering, sexually explicit conversations and suggestive comments or jokes about a person’s appearance or body
  • unnecessary physical familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against a person
  • persistent unwelcome social invitations, requests for dates or intrusive questions about a person’s private life
  • sending sexually explicit messages or distributing sexually offensive messages or material.

Sexual harassment can also occur when the workplace culture permits general sexual banter, innuendo, sexually explicit jokes or the display of pornographic materials. Sexual harassment could be a single incident or a series of incidents.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault includes a range of behaviours, all of which are unacceptable and constitute a crime. Sexual assault occurs when a person is forced, coerced or tricked into sexual acts against their will or without their consent, including when they have withdrawn their consent.

Deakin's policy, as per the Crimes Act 1958 (VIC) Section 40, defines sexual assault as:

  • intentionally touching another person and
  • the touching is sexual and
  • the person who was touched did not agree or consent.

Touching could be with any part of the body or with anything else. Sexual assault occurs when a person is forced, coerced or tricked into sexual acts against their will or without their consent, including when they have withdrawn consent.

Some examples of sexual assault could be, but is not limited to:

  • rape e.g. being forced to have vaginal, anal or oral sex including digital penetration
  • unwanted touching e.g. pinching, patting, embracing, rubbing, groping, flicking, kissing, fondling, being touched on the breasts, bottom, legs etc.
  • obscene gestures e.g. simulating masturbation in front of a person
  • pressuring for dates or demand for sex e.g. invitations that turn into threats or not taking 'no' for an answer
  • indecent exposure e.g. someone showing private parts of their body or 'flashing' their genitals.

More information

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