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A complex sexual assault incident. What to do?

A lot has happened, but this is a long story short. I have an overflow of emotions and I just don't know where to start. I feel that I need someone to point me in the right direction about an incident that happened 5 years ago with a family friend, Jay* (not his real name), who lived next door.  His late wife who was my godmother had passed away one month before the incident happened. Before his late wife passed away, she always welcomed the kids (there were a group of us who were all family friends) to play at her house seeing as she didn't have any kids and Jay* was always the one playing with us. She eventually had a daughter of her own.


This first happened in 2008. I was 15 at the time and Jay* was 39. He also had a 3 year old daughter. The sexual relations began in his house one night. We had sexual intercourse which was consensual. I say 'consensual' because I didn't say or do anything to stop him, however there were some sexual acts which I felt were forced. When I mean force, he wasn't necessarily violent but he kept insisting to which I eventually just gave in. I don't know why I didn't say anything or act upon it when it first started. I felt that it was wrong, seeing as he was a trusted family friend. I was a shy kid and that was probably why I didn't say anything. But I didn't think much of it then. These sexual relations happened regularly, which then progressed into a relationship. After having regular sexual interactions with him, I then thought I was in love. I thought he loved me in return. A few things were said between the time we first had sexual relations until about after a year. A few months after we first had sexual relations he admitted that when he saw me at the end of the street with my boyfriend at the time (towards the end of 2007), he felt jealous. I thought it was weird, but again, I didn't think much of it. Looking back at it, it seems as if he had sexual intentions towards me even before the event happened. He said we had to keep it a secret. With both of us coming from a Catholic background, he said that after his wife had passed away he had prayed to God. He said that I was given to him by God. I somewhat believed this and along with other comments he made me feel flattered and special. It wasn't until about after a year since we first had sexual relations, that we formally recognised what was going on between us as an intimate relationship. Around mid 2008, a family who was a friend of his late wife, had moved in. They had noticed I was always over their house but didn't say much, until they had told one of our family friends who then confronted Jay* and I separately about the situation. We both denied anything was going on between us. 


As I grew older I slowly began to feel as if he had taken advantage of me, but still I continued to believe I was in love. I never talked to anyone about what happened or the relationship until I was 18. During the period from when the sexual relations began until I was 18, I regularly went to his house. I was always there baby sitting her and helping him out with some of his house chores. When I was 18 I moved in with him and his daughter. There was a lot of disapproval from my parents and our family friends. To me, thinking I was in love, I felt as if they were all interfering with our relationship and had defended the criticism Jay* had received from them. Shortly after I was living with Jay* I began to feel so overwhelmed and stressed with everything. I had my studies to take care of as well as the huge amount of house chores I had to look after. I started to be controlling and abusive towards Jay*. I began to feel so angry and violent and destructive. I would have episodes of rage. There were times I felt I loved him and times where I hated him. I couldn't understand myself. There was an incident where he said he just wanted to be friends instead. I became agitated, aggressive and suicidal. He called the police and they had ordered an AVO on behalf of Jay* and his daughter against me. I don't know why I didn't disclose anything at that time. I then attended sessions with the psychologist for about 6 months and decided I didn't want to continue anymore. Despite the AVO, my episodes of violence and destruction continued but he didn't report them to police. Sometimes in my fit of rage his daughter would be the brunt of it. I feel guilty about including her in my rage. I would have never expected such behaviour from myself. My family couldn't believe I was acting this way. Most of the time he would record my episodes of rage and my actions of violence towards him. He decided to end the relationship in December last year and we found out he moved overseas and was in the process of selling all his properties. We say this as his way of escaping from the situation. He wouldn't have desperately left the country and sell all his properties if he wasn't guilty of something. The night he suggested that he no longer wanted the relationship, he told my mother that at least he has evidence against me in the event that I choose to report him to police. 


Looking back at the relationship, there were particular things he said and certain actions he carried out that should have been seen as red flags. I question why I didn't see them then. I feel as if he didn't intend to have a genuine relationship with me in the first place but for his own sexual pleasure. I feel as if he never really intended for a relationship, but was fearful of going to jail because he had sexual relations with me while I was underaged so he prolonged it until I was well over age. He knew I was shy, as he pretty much watched me grow up. I feel as if he had taken this to his advantage. I felt confused at the time he first laid his hands on me. I still feel a sense of confusion until this day. There are so many emotions running through me and so many questions running through my head. I feel somewhat weak that I let it progress into a relationship. I still feel the guilt of not saying something then. My parents and family friends have advised me to report the incident to police but I feel so anxious about it because it progressed into a relationship, I was living with him for almost 2 years and also because of my violent and destructive behaviour towards him. I fear that if I report the incident to the police, I could also be charged for my violent and destructive behaviour. I always try to be as positive as I can to just move on, but I feel that he has to be held accountable for his actions. I am aware that my behaviour was wrong and uncalled for, but I feel that the whole relationship shouldn't have happened in the first place. I feel that he has brought out such an ugly character in me. He brought out such traits I never imagined I would be. I just felt so out of control, but I don't know why I still believed I was still in love. 


His in-laws and family friends are aware, through experience, that he has a cunning nature. Although not formally convicted, he has a history of fraud. I have only been recently aware of this, after talking to his in-laws. I can't help but doubt that he had good intentions for me like he claimed. 


I don't know whether to report the incident or not, it just feels like a lot is holding me back. I just don't know what to do. All I want is justice I believe I deserve and hopefully I can get some closure on this and move on. 










Re: A complex sexual assault incident. What to do?

I'm not quite sure that that case falls under sexual assault. 


Re: A complex sexual assault incident. What to do?

Hey laugh-a-lot,


I can only imagine how confused you must feel about all of this! It sounds like you were manipulated and taken advantage of by someone who should have known better. It's not uncommon for people in situations like that to have really mixed feelings about the person who has hurt them. Sometimes the mixed feelings can become a source of guilt in themselves, but it's so so so important to remember that you are not alone in experiencing this and that it is perfectly normal. 


I think the decision to report/not to report this to the police has to be one you make for yourself. It's not the sort of decision you should feel pressured into by anyone - it is completely personal to you. 


Without wanting to sound defeatest, the reality of the criminal justice system is very harsh. I have heard a police officer who works in the area say that if you are '...searching for justice, here is not the place to find it' (though, this is just one opinion). I promise you that I am not trying to deter you, but it's important that you know that the process can be very damaging and harmful for victims. There's plenty of reasons why you still may choose to give a report, but no matter what your wellbeing needs to come first. For some people, despite the hurt it may cause it can be more meaningful and ultimately aid their wellbeing to have reported it. I'm definitely not biased either way, but would strongly suggest that you put yourself first in your decision making. 


The other thing that jumps out at me is that, understandably, you seem to feel very confused and unclear about what you think/feel about what happened to you. Sometimes part of clearing up that confusion is speaking to someone about what happened. I'm wondering if talking to a counsellor before you make a decision about the police could work for you? The police  have to ask very specific questions and it may be that if you choose to report, answering these questions could be easier once you have gained some more clarity? You'll know the answer to that better than anyone, so it's best to trust your gut feeling, I say!


I hope that I haven't talked (writen..) too much!


Best of luck to you,






ps: I think a counsellor would probably be a better person to comment on whether it is sexual assault, given that you would be able to share more of the circumstances. Though if you were under 16 then it is legally sexual assault (there's no subjectivity to that). And I think you'll find that agreeing to engage due to coersion does not count as consent under the law. It's also important to know that 'not saying no' does not mean 'yes' (seriously!). There's actually some awesome awesome stuff to read about what is called 'active consent'. I once attended a workshop on active consent run by a woman called Nina Funnell, who is an interesting person to look up. I'm wondering if reading some of the active consent stuff could also help you to understand your experience a little better? Just a thought Smiley Wink


pps: fun fact (well, perhaps fun is not the best word...): under NSW law it is the accused's responsibility to prove they had consent. And consent doesn't count if there was coersion, if the person was under the influence of substances to the point where they could not make rational decisions (etc). It only counts as consent if the person has indicated clearly that they consent (the absense of not consenting is NOT consent). 



Re: A complex sexual assault incident. What to do?

Thank you Bella for your input. I am looking at getting some counselling as I think it will help me understand myself and the situation better.

Re: A complex sexual assault incident. What to do?

Hi LOL08, welcome to Reach Out.


It's sounds like you've had a very turbulent relationship with this man, and it's bringing out qualities you didn't know you had in you - or ones you particularly like. How are you coping now with your rage and violent tendancies now that you are not with Jay?


I know you asked for opinions on whether or not you should press charges, but as per our community guidelines, we can't offer legal advice. I will say that I know while the age of consent varies slightly from state to state, its generally 16 so you were below it the first time you had sex. The age of consent means even if you were a willing participant, the law does not recognise your ability to give informed consent. If you want to know if your later relationship and videotaped fights will affect your chance of successfully taking Jay to court, you should speak to a lawyer. Each state has a free legal aid service, which you can find here.


Have you considered returning to your psychologist or a counsellor? It might really help you sort out your feelings and get some closure on the relationship. The end of a relationship is tough at the best of times, and it sounds like you've had to deal with a whole lot more than just it's demise.


I hope you can stick around and let us know how you get on.

Re: A complex sexual assault incident. What to do?

Hi Elle Belle, 


Thank you for your reply. 


It was a very unstable relationship. One that I do regret not saying something about. I just don't know how I didn't see the 'red flags' at the time, but I was in denial myself thinking I was in love. There were times I felt like leaving the relationship but didn't have the heart to, so I put myself through a continuous cycle. I don't like dwelling in the past too much because nothing is going to change what has already happened. I just try to be as positive as I can nowadays, still aiming for justice not only for myself, but also for my family. I have done some research about sexual assault support around my area and have found one that offers free advice from a solicitor which I have booked in early April. I'm just hoping everything falls into place. 


As for my aggressive behaviour, it only surfaced while I was with him. I'm never like that with anyone else. I think I just had so much uncontrollable anger stemming from that relationship and the nature of how it all began.


I didn't have a very good experience with the psychologist I went to, I found it quite uncomfortable. But I have recently considered seeking another psychologist about this matter. 


I have come across a page on Facebook called 'Lessons Learned In Life' with inspirational messages. It gives me comfort reading such inspirational words and helps me understand challenges in life much better. 

Re: A complex sexual assault incident. What to do?

I think you're taking some really great steps forward! You really should be proud of the way you're dealing with all of this now. What happened was not your fault and it is understandable why you did the things you now regret. You were under his control.

You may have to try out a few different psychologists/psychiatrists/counsellors before you find one that you really do click with, especially because of the subject. Don't let this deter you! It is a really good idea for you to continue seeking.

I wish you the best of luck in all of this.

Re: A complex sexual assault incident. What to do?

Hi Birdeye,

Thanks for your input. I am quite proud of how I am moving forward now. It's easier said than done, but optimism really is the key.

Thanks again Smiley Happy

Re: A complex sexual assault incident. What to do?

There was no 'relationship' - you were and continued to be sexually assaulted.  You had sex with this man through coercion and duress and as with most sexual predators he manipulated you into believing you had a relationship when in fact he was simply using you for his own deviant sexual pleasure.


Many personal injury lawyers work on a 'no win, no fee' basis.  You need to stop thinking of yourself as a  'willing' participant - you were groomed to think that.  Your violence was/is a symptom of the trauma HE visited upon you.


Anyone, ANYONE who tells you that you are in any way even minutely responsible for what happened to you has absolutely no understanding of the ability of some people to influence a young and pliant mind into believing a falsehood - you only have to look at a few cults to see how a master manipulator can get normal, intelligent people to believe absolute nonsense to understand how a naive child can be brainwashed into believing she is in love with her predator.


Don't concern yourself with his tapes of your violence - they would work in your favour to demonstrate the hold this man had on you and the psychological damage he had caused.


Do what you need to do to bring him to justice only if you believe it is the right thing to do and to take your power back, but ensure your motives are not grounded in revenge, which will only damage YOU further.

Re: A complex sexual assault incident. What to do?

Hi Goldilocks51, 


Thank you for your input. It gives me comfort knowing there are people who understand my situation. A few months after the 'relationship' had ended, I have finally come to a realisation that there was simply no relationship. I have disregarded that a relationship existed. Looking back at it all, I have felt I have been heavily manipulated into believing a relationship was going on. 


I just want to seek justice for myself and my family, because I feel that he also had my family believe he was a trustworthy man. All I want is for this man to be held accountable for his actions. I believe this would help me in seeking closure from all that has happened and help me move forward better.