The National Day of Action Against Sexual Assault occurred last Thursday. In conjunction with the sexual assault services at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Women’s Collective volunteered at train stations across Sydney to hand out flowers, pens and materials reflecting the main goals of the NDA:
• Celebrate victim’s survival of sexual assault
• Draw attention to the continuing need for public education and support services
• Inform SA survivors of support options available to them
• Inform potential perpetrators that sexual assault is a crime, the victim is never to blame and that ‘just because she isn’t saying no, doesn’t mean she’s saying yes’
It is estimated that 1/3-1/5 of women and 1/20 men in Australia will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. This is still a pervasive problem in our society and it is important to use opportunities like the NDA to consider sexual violence, reflect on the role you have to play in preventing it, and remember that these are not just statistics – these are most likely people in your life that are important to you, whether you know it or not.
So what can you do?
1. Know how to respond if someone you know reveals an experience of sexual assault or isn’t sure if they have been sexually assaulted. For anybody studying, working or living in the area (regardless of gender, home address, nationality, financial status, language skills) the RPAH Sexual Assault Service offers free counseling, medical/forensic support, special consideration application help and support and information about reporting to police and the court process – if you choose to do so. There is no obligation to report, no Medicare or full name or address required, and translators are available free of charge. Phone 9515 9040 during business hours or 9515 6111 in a crisis situation, or turn up to the ground floor of the King George V building or Emergency Department. For people living away from Sydney or NSW, a good start is the National Sexual Assault, Domestic & Family Violence Line on 1800 737 732 or the NSW Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424 017 who can help them to find local resources or services.
2. Stand up against sexual assault whenever you feel safe to do so. Don’t laugh at a dodgy rape joke, call out the guy who is ‘hitting on’ the drunkest girl he can find, stand up against victim-blaming because it is never their fault. Always check with your partner(s) if you are not 100% sure that they are knowingly and enthusiastically giving you consent.
These statistics are too damn high, and it’s on each and every one of us to contribute towards changing them.