Violence against women
Violence against women does not mean only physical violence. It is much broader and includes sexual, emotional, psychological and financial abuse. The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women describes violence against women as:
‘….any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.’
Research has shown that violence against women can involve a continuum of violence from psychological, economic and emotional abuse through to physical and sexual violence.
What is sexual violence?
Sexual violence are sexual behaviours that are carried out against a person’s will. Sexual violence covers a wide range of unwanted sexual behaviours that can include:
- Sexual assault,
- Sexual abuse,
- Sexual exploitation,
- Sexual coercion,
- Being forced to watch or engage in porn,
- Forced prostitution,
- Human trafficking,
- Image sharing of a person without their consent,
- Female genital mutilation.
It can happen to anyone regardless of their sex, sexuality, or gender identity, but women and children are statistically more likely to be victims of sexual assault/violence and perpetrators are usually male. This violence can occur in a relationship, or from former partners, casual partners, from known people, or from strangers.
It is important to remember that it is never your fault if you have been subjected to sexual violence. All forms of sexual violence are crimes in Australia and violence of any type is not OK.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is any sexual contact that occurs without enthusiastic consent of the other person. It can include unwanted touching, fondling or kissing and it is not limited to sexual intercourse.
What is dating violence?
Dating violence can be experienced as physical, emotional, verbal, technological or sexual abuse from an intimate partner. It can occur in all socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds, and in same-sex relationships as well as heterosexual relationships. However, females are more likely to be at harm of dating violence than males, especially among preteens, teenagers and young adults.
What you can do about sexual and dating violence
- Reach out and talk to someone you trust
- Report the violence
- Keep a record of evidence
- Keep telling
- Tell the police
See Australia Federal Police – Sexual assault.
What is sexual harassment?
BBC 3: Is this sexual harassment? Men & women discuss
Sexual harassment behaviours by a person include:
- Knowing that the behaviour is unwanted or unwelcome; and
- Interferes with your life activities; or
- Leads to or implies work or study-related consequences for you.
These behaviours can be offensive, humiliating or intimidating, and can be direct or indirect, physical or verbal, repeated or one-off event.
On public transport this may include:
- staring or leering,
- deliberate brushing up against you or unwelcome touching,
- suggestive comments or jokes,
- insults or taunts,
- intrusive questions or statements about your private life,
- behaviours considered a criminal offence such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.
BBC 3: Why sexual harassment is your fault? Fern Brady’s life lesson
Canberra Rape Crisis – Impacts and effects of sexual assault
Canberra Rape Crisis – Physical-and-behavioural-impacts-and-effects
1800RESPECT: Sexual assault and violence
What to Say: Get the facts
The Royal Women’s Hospital – Sexual Assault
Office on Women’s Health: Dating violence and abuse
If you are experiencing any form of sexual violence and in immediate danger call 000.
Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC)
6247 2525, 7am – 1pm
131 444, After hours
131 444, 24 hours (call this number to report any incident, if there is no immediate danger)
Forensic & Medical Sexual Assault Care (FAMSAC)
6244 2185, 9am – 5pm
6244 2222, After hours
1800RESPECT Counselling Line
1800 737 732, 24 hours
Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS)
6280 0900, 24 hours
Counselling for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survivors (Nguru)
6247 2525, 7am – 11pm
Respect Victoria: Respect women – call it out-active bystander