This month (and always, really), we’re saying a big F.U. to the key concerns women face, day in and day out. Unfortunately, they all kinda really suck, so it’s our mission to turn up the volume on these discussions and spark change. Right now, we’re serving up the low down on sexual violence and harassment in Australia.
Before we get stuck in, just a warning that these topics and stats might be triggering to some – if you feel this might be you, feel free to get stuck into another blog post. If you’ve experienced sexual violence and/or harassment, make sure to surround yourself with support and report your experience.
Okay ladies, let’s break it down;
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, sexual harassment and sexual violence are separated by the following definitions;
“Sexual violence is a broader concept covering a range of behaviours of a sexual nature, carried out against a person’s will using physical force or coercion (or any threat or attempt to do so). Sexual violence can be perpetrated by partners in a domestic relationship, former partners, other people known to the victims, or strangers (COAG 2011).”
“Sexual harassment occurs when a person has experienced or been subjected to behaviours that made them feel uncomfortable and were offensive due to their sexual nature. It includes a range of behaviours aimed at demeaning an individual and exercising power and control over them… sexual harassment includes indecent phone calls; indecent texts, emails or posts; indecent exposure; inappropriate comments; and unwanted sexual touching.” (ABS 2017)
The crossover between these two definitions is highlighted by the intent for perpetrators to feel a sense of power and control, using their own sexual nature - and taking advantage of someone else’s – to do so. This is twisted as hell, considering the only bodies we own and have the power to control (ever) are our own.
Recent data about the number of sexual assault victims recorded in Australia revealed an all time high – which is pretty damn shocking considering how far it *feels* we’ve come. Crime data from the ABS (2017) shows an 8% increase in reported sexual assaults from 2016 to 2017 – that’s just one year.
Nearly 25,000 people reported to be victims of sexual assault in Australia last year... and those are just the people that reported.
It's so, so important to remember that these stats are just based on the experiences that some have been brave enough to report. And when reports of young womens' underwear being used against them in their own rape trials take over our feeds, it's understandable why the fear of reporting - and the blame and shame associated with it - is so real.
Taking this into consideration, let’s look at the stats:
- 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.
- 1 in 2 (53%, or 5 million) women have experienced sexual harassment since the age of 15.
- 63% of female university students were sexually harassed in 2016.
- 1 in 20 Australians believe violence against women may be justified.
- More than 1 in 5 (21%) agree that violence could be excused if the violent person regretted it (insert eyeroll – it can never be excused)
- More than 4 in 10 Australians (43%) believed that rape resulted from men not being able to control their need for sex (VicHealth 2014).
- Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) Australians believe that a woman was at least partly responsible for being raped if she was drunk and/or affected by drugs at the time (VicHealth 2014). (I’m sorry, but this is just fucked – no woman is EVER responsible in any way for being raped)
This is a big fucking issue! You know it, we know it, and the stats prove it. Under no circumstance should a woman (or anyone for that matter) be made to feel any smaller, any less real, any less human. Our sexuality is just that – ours. It’s not for any person or beast – stranger or lover – to use, manipulate or take advantage of.
Ladies, don’t be ‘careful’. Wear that low cut top coz it makes you feel hot. Slip on those lacey black knickers that make your booty pop. Check in on your girl gang and d&m with the men in your life. And where you feel the need to, support and report.
If you or anyone else you know is experiencing sexual assault or trauma, contact national Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence counselling phone line and webchat. 1800 RESPECT. Support is free and available 24/7.
Phone: 1800 737 732