"My name is *Samantha and I have been a victim of sexual assault.""I loved my job, so when the lewd remarks and suggestive comments from my boss (who was almost 25 years my senior) began, I tried to turn a deaf ear and just keep working. This situation was manageable sometimes, but as time went on the comments became more offensive and often if I was in the same room with "him" he would corner me and tell me of the erotic dreams he had been having about me. I would somehow get away from him and though shaken try to go back to work. I complained to my manager and she tried to help me. From this point onward though "he" would threaten me or make derogatory remarks about me saying I was a "cock-tease". Being at work was becoming a nightmare rather than a place I had once loved to work at.
Fearing I would lose the job I loved so much, where I had made some wonderful friends and determined not to let him make me leave, I stuck it out under worsening conditions. But then it went too far, one day at work I was cornered by him. He was a very big man and there was nothing I could do, nowhere I could move to. He brushed his groin up against me and grabbed onto my breast..."
"It is estimated that 1 in 3 young women and 1 in 5 young men will be assaulted in some way before they are 18 years of age."
Following last month's article on Date Rape, this month GIRL takes a look at the continuing and rising problem of sexual assault on females. These assaults typically occur in a school or work environment, in the public arena or on the personal front. We present you with the facts; some alarming figures and expose the myths surrounding sexual assault.
SEXUAL ASSAULT is an act of violence, which takes female's control over their bodies, rights and feelings away from them. Sexual assault is a criminal offence.
Any behaviour of a sexual nature that makes you feel uncomfortable, frightened, and intimidated and that you have not agreed to constitutes sexual assault or harassment. This includes someone touching, fondling or kissing you when you don't want to and can also include behaviour which doesn't involve touching, such as forcing someone to look at pornographic films, magazines or photos or being forced to pose while someone takes pictures of you or films you. Some forms of sexual harassment (unlawful, unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature) may also constitute sexual assault.
Sometimes people may feel that because the act wasn't as extreme as rape that it doesn't constitute sexual assault. A violation of one's body, no matter how small it may be considered, is still a crime.
1. By the time they are 18, 38 per cent of girls and 9 per cent of boys have been sexually assaulted.
2. Approximately 97 per cent of adult sexual assault victims are women.
3. A survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that three-quarters of sexual assaults on women are not reported to police.
SOME COMMON MYTHS:
1. Sexual assault won't happen to me - this is a very naïve approach as anyone can be sexually assaulted, there is no one type of person.
2. Only certain types of girls experience sexual assault like young, sexually attractive girls.
3. Children lie about sexual assault - children don't usually lie about sexual assault. Younger children do not understand what it is, and older teens are often too embarrassed or frightened to disclose actual assaults, let alone make them up. In reality, children tend to minimize the situation, rather than make it up or exaggerate.
A person who has experienced some form of sexual assault will notably be distressed, as sexual assault is a humiliating and often violent experience. However, every person who experiences sexual assault reacts in a different way. There is no right or wrong way to feel and no set time for when you should be feeling better.
These are some symptoms which victims might experience after their ordeals:
¨ Problems with sleeping, regular nightmares.
¨ A feeling of having no control over things that happen to you.
¨ Difficulty in concentrating on study or work.
¨ Feeling guilty or shameful.
¨ Problems trusting others and being afraid or uncomfortable about sexual relationships.
VICTIMS NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
If you know of someone who has been a victim of sexual assault, the most important help you can provide is your support.
The first step to dealing with any form of sexual abuse is to tell people. By telling carefully chosen and trusted people, you have the opportunity to gain support. Telling the right person may help you feel less isolated and break the silence that may have surrounded your experiences.
REMEMBER: There is NO excuse for any type of sexual assault and it is most important to know that NO ONE has the right to sexually assault you.
* Name has been changed to protect her identity.
>> If you would like further info or support for 'Sexual Assault' please visit http://www.northern.casa.org.au or http://www.vicnet.net.au <<
- Annemarie Failla