Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault includes rape, incest, child abuse, and unwanted sexual behaviour. Unwanted sexual behaviour can include but is not limited to unwanted kissing and touching, forcing someone to watch pornography or masturbation, Sexual offences are considered serious crimes in Australia (Legal Aid Victoria).

Historical Child Sexual Assault

Child sexual abuse is a power imbalance in which perpetrators utilise control and dominance over the victim. They exploit their position of power and coerce the child in order to satisfy their own need for sexual gratification Sexual abuse is about power and control; helplessness, betrayal, humiliation, and feeling controlled. In many instances, child sexual abuse does not involve force, threat or intimidation. Rather, non-sexual actions by both perpetrator and victim can develop into child sexual abuse. For example, many children accept gifts and favours or seek emotional and social support from the perpetrator. The perpetrator capitalises on this opportunity by protecting and encouraging the emerging relationship, thereby grooming and entrapping the child so that their needs may be met. The process of grooming is particularly important with respect to short or long-term effects experienced by the victim. For other children, grooming was not a part of the abuse. Rather they were controlled and abused in institutions whereupon there was no escape nor, in many instances, family members with whom they could confide or remove them from the abusers.

The after effects of child sexual abuse can vary depending upon the grooming strategies and how the victim responded. Many victims ultimately feel responsible for the abuse. They may attribute personal responsibility for having sought or accepted non-sexual rewards, effectively making them the gatekeepers of their own sexual abuse. In many instances, this process prevents the child from disclosing and can make the opportunity and frequency of abuse more likely. Perpetrators may reinforce these beliefs and distort the attributions of responsibility. Thus, they absolve themselves of responsibility for the sexual abuse. Accordingly, many victims can suffer from a sense of shame, embarrassment and guilt for years following the abusive acts (Heath, J. (2009) Extrafamilial Child Abuse: An Analysis of Briefs of Evidence to Investigate Relationships between Perpetrator and Victim Characteristics).

Rape

Rape is a type of sexual assault initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, or where the person is under threat or manipulation, or with a person who is incapable of valid consent.

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