Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behaviour that occurs without explicit consent of the victim.
Some forms of sexual assault include penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape.
Although at times, this may seem to be a distant problem for some, but it can sometimes strike close to home, especially for young people. I have a friend who was sexually assaulted by someone I used to know quite well, and it has had long lasting effects on their wellbeing. Most young people are assaulted because they aren’t physically strong enough, they don’t properly know how to defend themselves they are not as cautious or weary about the dangers around them.
Victims of sexual assault will build great mistrust with other people around them, whether the perpetrator was someone they know or a complete stranger. They are left with anxiety, depression and even self harm. At times, even the people they love and trust can be shut out or disconnected.
And this is now reaching epidemic levels. 17% of women and 4% of men in Australia are sexually assaulted from the age of 15 and above, and 93% of perpetrators are males. Unfortunately, most people do nothing when faced with these issues. They walk past the incident and brush it off, too scared to do anything to help. Every time sexual assault comes up in the news or I see an article about it, my parents don’t want me reading or listening to it, but it always leaves me with questions. Why shouldn’t we be informed about the issues that go on in the world?
Not everyone will try to change this issue, but out of all those people who ignore what you say, who try and deflect the conversation, who don’t even consider your voice as an action, there are people who listen to what you say, some people will agree with what you are trying to do, some people will take the initiative to change how things were previously. This is especially important on issues such as sexual assault, that deeply affect young people.
But this doesn’t just affect the lives of individuals, it also affects our community and society and the way we live. As more and more rules and regulations are implemented to protect us, it begins to create constraints for the wider community. Restrictions on dating websites, meeting up with people alone without an accompaniment or even being in certain areas at certain times are all important, though limiting, regulations that have come as a result of this epidemic. This all restricts what we can do, where we can go and how we can experience day to day life and activities.
It is important, however, that we raise awareness of key factors, to help young people in situations where they may face sexual assault. If you are being pressured into anything, remember that it is not your fault. You are not the one at fault, the person who is pressuring you is. Remember that it is ok to lie to get out yourself out of a situation like this, make an escape route, any windows, doors or exit points near by? Use those exits and leave as soon as possible.
And if you think this person is stalking you, tell someone you trust, try and alter what transport you use everyday so they don’t know exactly where you are. And always be prepared to reach out, have your phone handy to call someone or memorise some numbers in case you don’t have a phone near by.
There are many factors that need to be addressed, and it disgusts me that we still have to resort to survival skills to get away from sexual assault. We are just little voices in a flood of overwhelming shouting, but this little voice can be spread over thousands of kilometres – world wide. And with one voice, one group, one community and one society, we can stop sexual assault.