Call - 1800 SeMPRO
1800 736 776
outside AUS 612 6127 1759
Text - 0429 600 800
outside AUS 61 429 600 800
Those who are survivors of sexual assault or have trauma relating to a sexual offence may find some of the information below confronting and upsetting. Please call SeMPRO if you need to speak to a professional who is experienced in responding to trauma.
SeMPRO recognises that both men and women can be affected by sexual assault. SeMPRO's services are available to men and women, as they both experience trauma and distress and face many barriers to reporting what has happened to them, especially in Defence.
A working description of the term 'Sexual Misconduct' has been developed to guide SeMPRO operations. Sexual Misconduct includes sexual offences1 and serious incidents of a sexual nature2 which can cause trauma3, including:
While sudden stranger sexual assault attacks do happen, they are relatively rare; most victims know the person who assaults them. Most rapes occur in the victim's home, or when someone is either incapable of freely giving or maintaining consent to the sexual act or to have sex. This may include when s/he is under the influence of alcohol or s/he has been coerced; perhaps as in the context of Defence through fear (i.e. being told they will fail a training session if they do not agree) or other misuse of power by the offender.
The reality is that the majority of sexual assaults conflict with society's preconceived idea of what rape and sexual assault 'looks like'. What usually springs to mind when we see the word "rape" or "sexual assault" is the image of a man in a balaclava or ski mask, jumping out from behind a bush, brandishing a knife and physically assaulting a woman. In this scenario, the woman fought back valiantly, sustaining clear defence wounds, until she was overpowered and was raped. This scenario was, until recently, discussed in the media as "real rape" and contrasted markedly with what is now accepted as reality.
Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn't involve physical harm. Most people experience sexual assault as a life threatening incident. However, it is not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatised.
An event will most likely lead to emotional or psychological trauma if:
Emotional and psychological trauma can be caused by single-blow, one-time events, such as a sexual assault. Trauma can also stem from ongoing, relentless stress, such as not being able to talk about what happened to you, or by being disbelieved or vilified when you did disclose.