Sexual abuse

For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, you can contact us here.

Sexual assault is a serious issue and it is important to know you are not alone. In 2016, 23,052 victims of sexual assault were recorded in Australia. That is equal to 1 victim of sexual assault per 1,000 persons. The 2016 figure represents a 24 per cent increase from 2011. Female victims of sexual assault aged 15–19 have the highest victimisation rate of any age group.

In 2016, the number of victims of sexual assault recorded in the Northern Territory decreased by 6 percent from 2015 to 378 victims. The majority (88%) of these victims were girls and women and around a quarter of all victims were aged between 10 and 14 years. Victims aged between 25 and 34 years accounted for 21% of total sexual assault victims, the largest proportion in this age group across Australia.

Over the years, the number of young people and children who suffered involved in sexual assault  has been increasing nationally.

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What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any sexual behaviour without your consent, which means without your free and voluntary agreement, that causes humiliation, pain, fear or intimidation. It includes:

  • Having unlawful sex with a child who is under the age of 16;
  • Any indecent act;
  • Being tricked or threatened into having sex with someone, incest, and rape; or
  • Behaviour that does not involve actual touching e.g. forcing someone to watch pornography, masturbation or any other sexual material is illegal.

Even if the other person is your family member, teacher, doctor, work supervisor or someone else you know this will also be sexual assault. Sexual assault is against the law and is a very serious crime.

What is consent?

Consent means agreeing to have sex voluntarily and with a clear mind. If you agreed to have sex with someone because you were forced, threatened or kept against your will it does not count as consent. Consent must be given freely which means you must be conscious (awake) and unaffected by any drugs/alcohol. Likewise, there is no consent if you have a serious mental or intellectual disability that affects your ability to understand what is happening.

Consent is also not given if you were tricked into giving it, for example, you were mistaken about the sexual nature of the act or the identity of the person.

You cannot consent to any sexual behaviour if you are under the age of 16.

What can you do if you have been sexually assaulted?

If you are in immediate danger, we recommended you call 000. If you have been sexually assaulted, you have the right to be protected and you should report it to the police.

We also recommend that if you have been sexually assaulted you get medical care.  A doctor can test and treat you for any sexually transmitted infections, carry out a forensic examination (if you were assaulted very recently and you wish to report the crime to the police) and provide information on sexual assault and follow-up services.

You should not feel ashamed because you have been sexually assaulted. Sexual abuse is an abuse of power and a betrayal of trust and the abuser is 100% responsible for their behaviour. You should talk to someone you trust like a parent, a family member, a trusted friend or a school counsellor. Or call the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 (this is a 24-hour service). They offer a very supportive service and they keep everything confidential. You can also email them at here or use their online chat service for people aged 5-25 here.

If you don’t feel comfortable telling someone you know there are a number of Sexual Assault Victims Services that can provide you with help. These include:

  • Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC):  Provides counselling and referrals to other services
    • You can visit their website here or here.

SARC services are located in:

Darwin 8922 6472
Katherine 8973 8524
Tennant Creek 8962 4361
Alice Springs 8955 4500

You can call Darwin and Alice Springs 24 hours a day to get help for recent incidents of sexual assault.

  • Ruby Gaea (Darwin Centre Against Rape): provides free, confidential counselling for any woman or child who has been sexually assaulted at any time in their life. Contact: (08) 8945 0155
  • National Sexual Assault Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service: you can talk to experienced counsellors for information and support, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Contact: 1800 73 77 32

These services offer counselling and advice to people experiencing domestic and family violence:

Dawn House (Domestic Family Violence Counsellor)

Located in Darwin

(08) 8945 1388  
Central Family Violence Counsellor (08) 8952 6075 
NPY (Ngaanyatjarra Pitijantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Women’s Council Domestic Violence Service 1800 180 840

Visit site 

East Arnhem Domestic and Family Violence Counsellor (08) 8987 0403
Katherine Domestic and Family Violence Counsellor  (08) 8971 0777
Tennant Creek Women’s Domestic Violence Counsellor (08) 8962 3123

You can also can contact us here for free and confidential legal advice.

Victim's compensation

If you have been sexually assaulted, you can apply for financial help for victims of crime. This is provided by the NT government. To be eligible, you must report the crime to police within a ‘reasonable time’,  assist police in their investigation, and provide proof of your injuries or expenses.

You may claim up to $40,000 for injuries arising from the assault, including $10,000 for financial losses.

Time limits apply. If you were over 18 when you were sexually assaulted, you should apply for compensation within two years of the assault. Applications made later than two years after the crime may be considered in cases of sexual assault or child abuse, or if you were under 18 when you were sexually assaulted.

If you’re under 25 and you have a question about sexual assault that we haven’t answered here, please ask us a question here and we can give you some free information and advice.

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