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Re: [SPECIAL GUEST] Supporting Survivors (trigger warning: sexual assault)

If you need advice on how to proceed with a complaint of sexual assualt contact specialist sex assault investigators in your home state, all capitals will have specialist sex assault investigation teams, in regional centres they may be the local detectives. You can also seek advice from police and there is no obligation to proceed with a complaint if you dont want to.

Re: [SPECIAL GUEST] Supporting Survivors (trigger warning: sexual assault)

@Rsg Not to mention private religious schools which often ignore sexual health discussions altogether :/

Re: [SPECIAL GUEST] Supporting Survivors (trigger warning: sexual assault)

@Chessca_H @Rsg @Ben-RO @Mel93 @Stingray1   

Cheerio everyone, Thanks so much. Look after yourselves, stay safe.  Karin and Jenny 

Highlighted

Re: [SPECIAL GUEST] Supporting Survivors (trigger warning: sexual assault)

@Chessca_H@Rsg@Ben-RO@Mel93@Stingray1   thanks everyone for having me tonight, hope we could help out  and dont be afraid to take the step and report Smiley Happy

Re: [SPECIAL GUEST] Supporting Survivors (trigger warning: sexual assault)

Who can you talk to about your experiences if you need more support?

There's plenty of people out there if you need support! Like your counsellor or psychologist, DV Connect, 1800 RESPECT, and Relationships Australia. Remember that there's always people out there to help!

___________________________________________________
Stay excellent

Re: [SPECIAL GUEST] Supporting Survivors (trigger warning: sexual assault)

Who can you talk to about your experiences if you need more support?

 

School counsellor, psychologist, 1800 respect

Re: [SPECIAL GUEST] Supporting Survivors (trigger warning: sexual assault)

Thank you so much everyone for coming and sharing so much and giving heaps of support tonight. And an extra big thanks to @sasperth @sarcperth @Myvo @stonepixie for helping out in the conversation. 

 

and an even bigger thanks to @Chessca_H for organising this Infobus. LEGEND!!!!

 

If you want to keep talking about this, feel free to make a post in the ToughTimes or Wellbeing section of the forums. We will respond and keep the conversation going and respond over the next few days! 

 

Goodnight all! 

Re: [SPECIAL GUEST] Supporting Survivors (trigger warning: sexual assault)

COMMON QUESTIONS SARC/POLICE FREQUENTLY GET ASKED

Confidentiality

How can I keep this private?

If you have recently been sexually assaulted or sexually abused it was not your fault.  There is always somewhere that you go to for help. The link here will help find your nearest local SARC. There are some limits to confidentiality and your safety always comes first. Keeping this private might not always be possible as doctors, teachers, nurses, midwives and police have a duty or care to report all incidences of sexual abuse if you are under 18 years old.

Who can I trust? Who can I tell? How can I stop everyone from finding out about this?

It is important to figure out who you trust and who will keep your information private and not gossip.  A trusted friend, family member, teacher, youth worker, counsellor, pastor or Kids Helpline for example – the main thing to remember is to share this information with someone who will listen and respect your decisions.

Consent

Can I consent to sex if I am asleep?

No, you cannot freely agree to sex with another person if you are asleep

I said yes to some bits but not to others – is this still a sexual assault?

You have the right to say “yes” to some sexual activities and “no” to others, say “yes” and change your mind by saying “no”, or say “no” and still be respected

What if I was ‘out of it’?

You cannot consent to sex with another person if you were severely affected by alcohol or drugs

If I didn’t say no, is it my fault?

Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Saying nothing cannot be taken as consent. It’s not enough just to assume.

What if I know the person and I don’t want to get them into trouble?

Approximately 80% of sexual assaults are committed by someone we know. If you are under 18 and there is a concern that you or any other young person are still at risk from that person, then that information needs to be shared with a professional and possibly investigated. You are not responsible for anyone but yourself.

Police

Will I get in trouble if I report a sexual assault to the police and I have been using drugs?

No not necessarily, but it is important for police to understand everything that has happened when you report a sexual assault. Sometimes people are involved in situations where they may consume too much alcohol or take illicit drugs, but that is no bar to making a complaint or police investigating a complaint. It is important however that police are aware that someone has taken drugs as it may be come relevant during any future trial or it may explain certain issues identified during the investigation. If a victim denies taking drugs and there is evidence of drug taking produced at a trial it can also impact negatively on their credibility as a witness

If I report it to the police, do my parents have to know?

There is an obligation for police to advise the parents of a juvenile (any person under the age of 18 years) that they have come into contact with police. There are also certain legislative requirements police must adhere to when arranging for a victim of sexual assault to undergo a forensic examination. Where persons under the age of 18 years require an examination, police must obtain written consent from a parent or guardian. We have found though that it is important for young people to speak to their parents especially where they are a victim of sexual assault, parents will form the keystone of a young person’s support network.

What will the Police do if I tell them?

Police will ensure that your parents will form part of the support network throughout the investigation and during any subsequent trial. Police may also require one of your parents to give evidence especially if they were the first person you told about the assault, that usually becomes important evidence.

Will the person know if was me? Will they be given my name?

When you make an allegation of sexual assault and request police investigate the matter, obviously we will need to speak to the accused person and if that is the case they will know that a complaint has been made. Having said that it is ok for you to report a matter to police and if you don’t want any action taken we will provide you with some advice and other opportunities to seek assistance. The accused person will not be spoken to by police unless there is a formal investigation.

Do I have to talk to them?

No police will not force or require you to speak to the person

We’ve engaged in consensual sexual activity before does that mean my complaint won’t be taken seriously?

No it does not matter what type of activity you have engaged in previously with the person, every separate instance where you are forced to engage in activity that you don’t want and clearly state that you want to stop, is an offence

If I report to Police, can I change my mind and not go ahead later?

Yes you certainly can change your mind at any point and police will stop and close the investigation. You will be advised that you may also reopen the investigation at any time in the future as well and police will investigate the matter on your behalf. Obviously it is better from an evidentiary perspective to conclude an investigation soon after it occurred.

Alcohol

Is it his fault if he was also drunk? Is it her fault if she was also drunk?

A tricky one – many people have sex they later regret, while drunk. However, if one partner in any way forces, coerces, tricks, manipulates or is violent, then it could be considered a sexual assault

How drunk is too drunk?

Another tricky one – a person’s ability to consent can also be questioned when someone is extremely drunk or drugged.

I was drunk/under the influence of drugs so is it my fault?

No, sexual assault is never the victim’s fault and your ability to consent can also be taken into consideration.

Coping

Why can’t I eat? Sleep? Concentrate?

Why am I scared of men?

Was it a sexual assault? How do I know?

I feel like I am going crazy – is this normal?

Why do I feel so anxious?

Why can’t I stop thinking about it?

All of these things are common responses for people who have been assaulted. The reason, believe it or not, is the brain is trying to protect you! When we are faced with a trauma, the brain goes into a reflex called a Flight/Fight/ Freeze response. This is to enable us to run or fight the “tiger” that is threatening us. In some ways it is good response that has enabled us to survive as a species. It does make sense to run away from or look out for things that are going to hurt us. It is just that the mind has become over alert (hyper alert) and is reacting as if the danger is still present. So it is important to learn how to tell the mind to “stand down, there is not any danger now, I am safe now”. One good way to do this is through calming and slowing down the breath. You have to re train your breathing to breathe out more than you breathe in and do it much more slowly. See an App called Smiling Mind for help.

Safety

What do I do if I see the person who did this at school/at the shops/in the street?

If it is not safe to be around them, e.g. if they are violent unpredictable people or if you have a restraining order on them then you need to walk away to somewhere and with someone safe. If at school go to the admin, teacher, chaplain, or counsellor if you can.

If you think it is safe and you are feeling brave (maybe you have a mate with you), you might want to say something like “Did you know what you did hurt me?” Don’t get into arguments though because you may end up worse off. I suggest walk away.

How do I stop this from happening again?

It depends on the circumstances really, but for example if it happened as part of meeting someone and being out partying, then good idea to have a plan to stick with a mate you trust.

How can I get checked for STI’s and pregnancy after a recent sexual assault?

Any doctor can help with this like your GP but if you want to get a free service where you are checked out and also have the option of forensic evidence taken and also talk to a counsellor then you can go to one of the state based services like SARC (see links).

Friends and Family

My friend is not coping and I don’t know how to help them – what can I do?

Listen, listen and listen some more to your friend. Let them express their feelings and be non-judgemental. Don’t rush into telling them what to do (expect when it means keeping them safe from immediate harm). Help them to access services if they want that.

He/she doesn’t like me touching them anymore. I feel like they’re pushing me away. What can I do to help?

This is very common for most people who have had an assault. Be patient, give them time and allow them to take the lead. If you want to touch then ask, “Can I give you a hug”? Try not to say things in a demanding way like “when are you going to feel like sex again?” Say “you let me know when you are ready.”

Support

This topic can be a pretty tough one to explore, so before we start talking about it, I want to know, what are some things you can do to look after yourself if you’re feeling stressed out or triggered?

When someone is triggered, they are going into a bit of headspace where they may be reliving the experience again, or feeling like they are not safe but in reality they are safe.  We recommend “grounding” which is kind of bringing yourself back to reality. This involves doing something that is concrete and focussing. First of all if it is dark, turn on the light, look around you, notice & naming 5 things you can touch in the room, 5 things you can see (like count the pictures on the wall), 5 things you can hear, etc. Holding tightly onto something that has a bit of texture like a phone cover, or a crystal or a rock. Say your name to yourself, say the date, and the day. Say “I am safe now”. Go for a shower, put your hands under cold or warm water. Definitely no journal writing or thinking about the trauma. Keep doing the grounding over and over again until you feel better. Do it for a LOOOONG time!

We often use the word survivor to talk about our experiences, why is that? What are some other ways of talking about sexual assault that support survivors?

If we say victim instead of survivor, victim is a word that is a bit loaded, as in someone who does not ever recover. Being as objective as you can about the experience is helpful. For e.g. naming it for what it is “sexual assault” rather than other more scary words.

You’re never obligated to tell someone about your experience with sexual assault, but in some situations (like starting a new relationship) it can be something that you might choose to do, what are some things to think about if you’re ready to talk about it?

Check out the person in different situations before you commit to them. When you feel ready ask them if they can listen to you about something that upset you and hurt you in your past that you think your relationship is ready to handle, but give them the option to say if this is a good time, do they have the headspace to be compassionate right now. Ask them if they have questions and be ready to answer some if you feel up to it and give yourself permission to not answer some questions.

Getting support from family and friends is such an important part of the healing process, but sometimes they don’t know what to say/how to be that support in the face of an issue like sexual assault. What’s one piece of advice that you could give them to be better at supporting survivors?

Just telling people to listen and how important that is. They don’t have to “fix it” or advise you, in fact its best if they don’t. It is past and done, there is nothing they can do to change that, but they can accept you are still you and haven’t changed inside yourself.

Unfortunately, society doesn’t do a very good job at supporting survivors most of the time. What do you think needs to be different about society’s attitude towards survivors to change that?

Society often tends to blame women for sexual assault, and to a certain extent the victim (also if it is a male). These attitudes are changing over time and our civilization with education and women’s roles changing and other sexual preferences being accepted. We have to keep on educating, keep up the discussions in a good way, from the heart, not from anger. It’s my impression that this sort of education works better.

Some survivors find that helping to change attitudes around sexual assault helps them in their recovery. If that’s something you feel you’re ready to, what can you do to help change these attitudes?

Seek out groups that do things like doing talks to groups of (especially young) people or on line chat about good attitudes to SA.

Who can you talk to about your experiences if you need more support?

Friends who you trust, or counsellors or psychologists or social workers talk about this sort of thing all the time. Mostly they are pretty good value to talk to Smiley Happy There are agencies (see links) set up for just this sort of thing like SARC.

Re: [SPECIAL GUEST] Supporting Survivors (trigger warning: sexual assault)

COMMON QUESTIONS SARC/POLICE FREQUENTLY GET ASKED

Confidentiality

How can I keep this private?

If you have recently been sexually assaulted or sexually abused it was not your fault.  There is always somewhere that you go to for help. The link here will help find your nearest local SARC. There are some limits to confidentiality and your safety always comes first. Keeping this private might not always be possible as doctors, teachers, nurses, midwives and police have a duty or care to report all incidences of sexual abuse if you are under 18 years old.

Who can I trust? Who can I tell? How can I stop everyone from finding out about this?

It is important to figure out who you trust and who will keep your information private and not gossip.  A trusted friend, family member, teacher, youth worker, counsellor, pastor or Kids Helpline for example – the main thing to remember is to share this information with someone who will listen and respect your decisions.

Consent

Can I consent to sex if I am asleep?

No, you cannot freely agree to sex with another person if you are asleep

I said yes to some bits but not to others – is this still a sexual assault?

You have the right to say “yes” to some sexual activities and “no” to others, say “yes” and change your mind by saying “no”, or say “no” and still be respected

What if I was ‘out of it’?

You cannot consent to sex with another person if you were severely affected by alcohol or drugs

If I didn’t say no, is it my fault?

Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Saying nothing cannot be taken as consent. It’s not enough just to assume.

What if I know the person and I don’t want to get them into trouble?

Approximately 80% of sexual assaults are committed by someone we know. If you are under 18 and there is a concern that you or any other young person are still at risk from that person, then that information needs to be shared with a professional and possibly investigated. You are not responsible for anyone but yourself.

Police

Will I get in trouble if I report a sexual assault to the police and I have been using drugs?

No not necessarily, but it is important for police to understand everything that has happened when you report a sexual assault. Sometimes people are involved in situations where they may consume too much alcohol or take illicit drugs, but that is no bar to making a complaint or police investigating a complaint. It is important however that police are aware that someone has taken drugs as it may be come relevant during any future trial or it may explain certain issues identified during the investigation. If a victim denies taking drugs and there is evidence of drug taking produced at a trial it can also impact negatively on their credibility as a witness

If I report it to the police, do my parents have to know?

There is an obligation for police to advise the parents of a juvenile (any person under the age of 18 years) that they have come into contact with police. There are also certain legislative requirements police must adhere to when arranging for a victim of sexual assault to undergo a forensic examination. Where persons under the age of 18 years require an examination, police must obtain written consent from a parent or guardian. We have found though that it is important for young people to speak to their parents especially where they are a victim of sexual assault, parents will form the keystone of a young person’s support network.

What will the Police do if I tell them?

Police will ensure that your parents will form part of the support network throughout the investigation and during any subsequent trial. Police may also require one of your parents to give evidence especially if they were the first person you told about the assault, that usually becomes important evidence.

Will the person know if was me? Will they be given my name?

When you make an allegation of sexual assault and request police investigate the matter, obviously we will need to speak to the accused person and if that is the case they will know that a complaint has been made. Having said that it is ok for you to report a matter to police and if you don’t want any action taken we will provide you with some advice and other opportunities to seek assistance. The accused person will not be spoken to by police unless there is a formal investigation.

Do I have to talk to them?

No police will not force or require you to speak to the person

We’ve engaged in consensual sexual activity before does that mean my complaint won’t be taken seriously?

No it does not matter what type of activity you have engaged in previously with the person, every separate instance where you are forced to engage in activity that you don’t want and clearly state that you want to stop, is an offence

If I report to Police, can I change my mind and not go ahead later?

Yes you certainly can change your mind at any point and police will stop and close the investigation. You will be advised that you may also reopen the investigation at any time in the future as well and police will investigate the matter on your behalf. Obviously it is better from an evidentiary perspective to conclude an investigation soon after it occurred.

Alcohol

Is it his fault if he was also drunk? Is it her fault if she was also drunk?

A tricky one – many people have sex they later regret, while drunk. However, if one partner in any way forces, coerces, tricks, manipulates or is violent, then it could be considered a sexual assault

How drunk is too drunk?

Another tricky one – a person’s ability to consent can also be questioned when someone is extremely drunk or drugged.

I was drunk/under the influence of drugs so is it my fault?

No, sexual assault is never the victim’s fault and your ability to consent can also be taken into consideration.

Coping

Why can’t I eat? Sleep? Concentrate?

Why am I scared of men?

Was it a sexual assault? How do I know?

I feel like I am going crazy – is this normal?

Why do I feel so anxious?

Why can’t I stop thinking about it?

All of these things are common responses for people who have been assaulted. The reason, believe it or not, is the brain is trying to protect you! When we are faced with a trauma, the brain goes into a reflex called a Flight/Fight/ Freeze response. This is to enable us to run or fight the “tiger” that is threatening us. In some ways it is good response that has enabled us to survive as a species. It does make sense to run away from or look out for things that are going to hurt us. It is just that the mind has become over alert (hyper alert) and is reacting as if the danger is still present. So it is important to learn how to tell the mind to “stand down, there is not any danger now, I am safe now”. One good way to do this is through calming and slowing down the breath. You have to re train your breathing to breathe out more than you breathe in and do it much more slowly. See an App called Smiling Mind for help.

Safety

What do I do if I see the person who did this at school/at the shops/in the street?

If it is not safe to be around them, e.g. if they are violent unpredictable people or if you have a restraining order on them then you need to walk away to somewhere and with someone safe. If at school go to the admin, teacher, chaplain, or counsellor if you can.

If you think it is safe and you are feeling brave (maybe you have a mate with you), you might want to say something like “Did you know what you did hurt me?” Don’t get into arguments though because you may end up worse off. I suggest walk away.

How do I stop this from happening again?

It depends on the circumstances really, but for example if it happened as part of meeting someone and being out partying, then good idea to have a plan to stick with a mate you trust.

How can I get checked for STI’s and pregnancy after a recent sexual assault?

Any doctor can help with this like your GP but if you want to get a free service where you are checked out and also have the option of forensic evidence taken and also talk to a counsellor then you can go to one of the state based services like SARC (see links).

Friends and Family

My friend is not coping and I don’t know how to help them – what can I do?

Listen, listen and listen some more to your friend. Let them express their feelings and be non-judgemental. Don’t rush into telling them what to do (expect when it means keeping them safe from immediate harm). Help them to access services if they want that.

He/she doesn’t like me touching them anymore. I feel like they’re pushing me away. What can I do to help?

This is very common for most people who have had an assault. Be patient, give them time and allow them to take the lead. If you want to touch then ask, “Can I give you a hug”? Try not to say things in a demanding way like “when are you going to feel like sex again?” Say “you let me know when you are ready.”

Support

This topic can be a pretty tough one to explore, so before we start talking about it, I want to know, what are some things you can do to look after yourself if you’re feeling stressed out or triggered?

When someone is triggered, they are going into a bit of headspace where they may be reliving the experience again, or feeling like they are not safe but in reality they are safe.  We recommend “grounding” which is kind of bringing yourself back to reality. This involves doing something that is concrete and focussing. First of all if it is dark, turn on the light, look around you, notice & naming 5 things you can touch in the room, 5 things you can see (like count the pictures on the wall), 5 things you can hear, etc. Holding tightly onto something that has a bit of texture like a phone cover, or a crystal or a rock. Say your name to yourself, say the date, and the day. Say “I am safe now”. Go for a shower, put your hands under cold or warm water. Definitely no journal writing or thinking about the trauma. Keep doing the grounding over and over again until you feel better. Do it for a LOOOONG time!

We often use the word survivor to talk about our experiences, why is that? What are some other ways of talking about sexual assault that support survivors?

If we say victim instead of survivor, victim is a word that is a bit loaded, as in someone who does not ever recover. Being as objective as you can about the experience is helpful. For e.g. naming it for what it is “sexual assault” rather than other more scary words.

You’re never obligated to tell someone about your experience with sexual assault, but in some situations (like starting a new relationship) it can be something that you might choose to do, what are some things to think about if you’re ready to talk about it?

Check out the person in different situations before you commit to them. When you feel ready ask them if they can listen to you about something that upset you and hurt you in your past that you think your relationship is ready to handle, but give them the option to say if this is a good time, do they have the headspace to be compassionate right now. Ask them if they have questions and be ready to answer some if you feel up to it and give yourself permission to not answer some questions.

Getting support from family and friends is such an important part of the healing process, but sometimes they don’t know what to say/how to be that support in the face of an issue like sexual assault. What’s one piece of advice that you could give them to be better at supporting survivors?

Just telling people to listen and how important that is. They don’t have to “fix it” or advise you, in fact its best if they don’t. It is past and done, there is nothing they can do to change that, but they can accept you are still you and haven’t changed inside yourself.

Unfortunately, society doesn’t do a very good job at supporting survivors most of the time. What do you think needs to be different about society’s attitude towards survivors to change that?

Society often tends to blame women for sexual assault, and to a certain extent the victim (also if it is a male). These attitudes are changing over time and our civilization with education and women’s roles changing and other sexual preferences being accepted. We have to keep on educating, keep up the discussions in a good way, from the heart, not from anger. It’s my impression that this sort of education works better.

Some survivors find that helping to change attitudes around sexual assault helps them in their recovery. If that’s something you feel you’re ready to, what can you do to help change these attitudes?

Seek out groups that do things like doing talks to groups of (especially young) people or on line chat about good attitudes to SA.

Who can you talk to about your experiences if you need more support?

Friends who you trust, or counsellors or psychologists or social workers talk about this sort of thing all the time. Mostly they are pretty good value to talk to Smiley Happy There are agencies (see links) set up for just this sort of thing like SARC.