Rape and sexual assault

Rape is when a man penetrates someone’s vagina, anus or mouth with his penis against their will or without consent. Although both men and women can be raped, only men can commit rape, as the key definition of rape involves penetration by a man’s penis.

The term sexual assault covers any other crime of a sexual nature, which can include:

  • penetration of any other kind against a person’s will or without consent;
  • being forced in to taking part in a sexual act; and
  • touching or grabbing in a sexual way, or kissing, without consent.

Although forced penetration without the use of a penis is technically not rape, it will be treated similarly to rape by a court of law.

It is important to remember that unless you have given someone content, then sex or sexual contact of any kind is considered a crime. It doesn’t matter if you had been drinking or taken drugs, didn’t say no or fight back, or are in a relationship with a person – a crime has still been committed.

What to do if you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted

If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, if you feel comfortable to do so, you should report the crime to the police as soon as possible.

If the crime has happened within the past 7 days, a medical exam can be undertaken at your closest Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), to help collect evidence that can be used to identify and prosecute the person who committed the crime. The police will help you to access this, or you can find your nearest centre, here.

If possible, avoid washing the clothes you were wearing at the time of the incident don’t shower – this will preserve as much forensic evidence as possible.

The police and the Sexual Assault Referral Centre will help you to access support following this type of crime. However, if you don’t report a crime to the police, or if the crime happened in the past, we can still support you.

Whenever you’re ready to access support, contact us.

 How we can help

  • signpost or refer you to other agencies and services that can also offer help; and
  • provide support if a case goes to court.

However you’re feeling after rape or sexual assault, it’s important you get the right support.

Personal experiences

Alex* was a victim of sexual abuse as a child while in care. Alex suffered from mental illness as a result of his experiences and needed significant emotional support when the case went to court. Read his story.

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