Back to Top

Support   

Select a topic below to know more about support for victims of sexual assault:

    ​Supporting children    

    Children who have experienced sexual assault have a range of both physical and emotional reactions that they may not always be able to express.

    They may have been sexually assaulted by someone in their family or by someone known to the family. Many parents will feel shocked and angry that this has happened to their child. They may feel guilty that they didn't protect their child from the abuse. It is important to remember that the child and non-offending parent is not to blame for the abuse; the offender is responsible.

    Many children will experience feelings of guilt about the abuse, particularly if a family member has abused them. Children may be afraid of what could happen if they tell someone.

    Many children may have difficulty talking about their feelings and may show how they are feeling through their behaviour. Children may:

    • suffer from nightmares
    • wet the bed
    • behave as they did when they were younger
    • eat too much or too little
    • become fearful or clingy
    • become withdrawn
    • have headaches
    • fight with their friends
    • have trouble with schoolwork.
    • get angry

    You can support a child victim by:

    • making yourself available to them
    • giving them time to talk at their own pace
    • reassuring them
    • telling them you love them
    • telling them you believe them
    • trying to stay calm
    • telling them that you will try to keep them safe
    • seeking help
    • telling them it was not their fault.

    It may help to seek professional advice and support for your child and yourself. For more information contact NSW Health Sexual Assault Services, Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Counsellors (CASAC) or apply for counselling through Victims Services.

    The ' Helping to make it Better' publication provides information for parents and carers about the sexual assault of children and how to support them.

    Support for teenagers

    As well as having worries or experiences as described for children, teenagers have added concerns following a sexual assault.

    They may be worried about their sexual health, and they may worry about becoming pregnant.

    Young people may:

    • have difficulties sleeping, which may include having nightmares
    • experience anxiety and flashbacks
    • have headaches and stomach pains
    • feel guilty
    • be very angry-which can be externalised or internalised
    • experience depression
    • experience body image issues
    • have difficulties with personal relationship
    • experience an increase in self-destructive behaviours , like alcohol or drug abuse, and self harm, like cutting or burning themselves.

    You can support a teenager by:

    • acknowledging and believing them
    • being open to talking about the sexual assault, but not asking detailed questions about it
    • not having a judgemental or blaming attitude
    • being supportive, and by telling them you love them
    • keeping a routine, and keep the home environment safe and stable
    • listening rather than giving advice
    • allowing them to make informed decisions about actions in relation to the sexual assault
    • letting them know you are there for them if they need you
    • getting help for yourself and informing yourself about sexual assault.

    Support for males

    All NSW Health sexual assault services and other services provide help equally to both males and females. There are staff trained in these services to work with men, who can find it very difficult to talk about sexual assault .

    It is thought that males under-report their experience of sexual assault, because of fear of not being believed, shame and embarrassment. Many males fear their assault "has made them gay" or that they may become abusers. These fears are not true.

    When a Man is Raped - A Survival Guide: Information for men who have been raped, parents, partners, spouses and friends This booklet provides information which may help and empower them to deal with the trauma of rape.

    Support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

    All NSW Health sexual assault services and other services provide help equally to all people. There are staff trained in these services to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    There are also a number of specialist designated Aboriginal services that can assist victims from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, within the police, public prosecutors offices and courts.

    If you wish to talk to the police about a sexual assault, you can ask to speak with an Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer, who may be located in the Local Area Command. Police can also contact an Aboriginal support person in your local area.

    If you are a child or young person or are concerned that a child or young person has been sexually assaulted, you can make a report to Family and Community Services by contacting the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111. If you would like to speak to someone in person, you can go your local Community Services Centre where arrangements can be made for you to talk to an Aboriginal Caseworker.

    If you wish to speak to an Aboriginal counsellor in your area, you can contact the Centre for Aboriginal Health on (02) 9391 9502 about the availability of Aboriginal Family Health Workers, and/or Aboriginal sexual assault workers in your area. NSW Health has specially trained counsellors who receive training to respond to the needs of victims of sexual assault.

    There are also a number of community-based services and information lines that provide legal advice and information, including:

    Victims financial assistance and access to the Victims of Crime Approved Counselling Service:

    If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island person who is a victim of crime in NSW (like family violence or sexual assault) you can call the Victims Services Aboriginal Contact Line on 1800 019 123. Victims Services has an Aboriginal Contact Officer who can refer you to the best person to help you access information about financial assistance and/or counselling.

    The Witness Assistance Service of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, has some Aboriginal Witness Assistance Officers, who can assist you if you have to go to court.
    Phone: (02) 9285 2502 or 1800 814 534.

    Support for family and friends of victims of sexual assault

    The crime of sexual assault stirs-up a lot of strong feelings, such as shock or distress. Sometimes people want to take matters into their own hands or are very angry. If the assault was committed by someone in the family, or by someone you know, there may be some reluctance to cause "upset"

    Before providing support to someone who has been sexually abused or raped, think about your own feelings and reactions and talk to someone close to you, or to a counsellor about the assault and how it may have effected you.

    Victims of sexual assault experience a range of emotions and feelings and they often feel very alone, afraid and embarrassed. Some may feel depressed, anxious or may have eating difficulties, may drink too much or become dependant on other substances to help them relax or forget about the assault.

    Some ways of supporting victims of sexual assault include:

    • asking what the person needs
    • being as attentive as possible
    • being aware of and dealing with your own feelings and reactions to the crime
    • communicating your care and concern
    • ensuring that the person has a safe place to stay
    • offering to go to appointments with the person
    • listening and not judging
    • letting the person know that you believe and support them.

    The Justice Journey section and resources section of the Victims Services website provides more information about support for family and friends.