In Australia, research shows that 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual violence or assault. Of all Australian women, 15 percent had been sexually assaulted by a person they knew, since the age of 15; 3.8 percent had been sexually assaulted by a stranger.
Sexual violence is gender based, with the vast majority of people assaulted being women. Sexual violence needs to be viewed primarily as a social problem rather than an individual or medical problem. Responses to sexual violence need to be holistic, individual and integrated and based on evidence.
Sexual assault can constitute any unwanted or forced sexual act or behaviour without a persons informed consent. Sexual assault is closely linked with domestic and family violence and has significant impacts on women's health and wellbeing. The statewide 24 hour domestic violence hotline provides information specifically on sexual violence; as well as providing 24 hour counselling support.
The Counselling Notes Protect (CNP) service is a free legal service delivered by Legal Aid Queensland in partnership with Women's Legal Service. CNP provides advice, assistance and representation under a new Queensland law, which protects the counselling records of victims of sexual assault or alleged sexual assault from being used in some courts.
Given that the majority of sexual violence against women is done by someone known to them, often in contexts where there is trust and familiarity, most go unreported and unconvicted. Some research has been undertaken to try and understand better what sexual violence looks like through the stories of victims of sexual violence.
A range of resources and research on sexual assault is collated by Ending Violence Against Women in Queensland.
The Sexual Assault Helpline 1800 010 120 is a state-wide Sexual Assault Line offering telephone support and counselling to anyone – women, men and young people – who have been sexually assaulted or abused, and for anyone who is concerned or suspects someone they care about might have been assaulted or abused.