In light of the recent Human Rights Commission report:
National report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities
I’ve never told more than a few people what happened to me at my first year of uni.
And finally, with the release of this report, things are starting to change.
If you ever think for a second that someone who is a victim of sexual assault is a liar, an attention seeker or whatever – consider, who would lie about that? Who would lie about experiencing one of the worst types of traumatic experiences? What would be the point?
Because victims of sexual assault DON’T get attention. They are usually steered away, awkwardly, due to people not knowing what to do.
So, first point, don’t think they’re lying. Not for a second.
Another thing to mention is that a lot of these incidents, including mine, occurred when intoxicated and in a HUGE setting. Many people don’t know how to intervene.
You know that feeling you get, even when you’re drunk, of intense panic? Someone has passed out or they’re having a seizure and you are no longer drifting off happily but you are entirely focussed on that person’s health and safety.
Feel that when you recognise that your friend, or acquaintance, or anyone, is showing serious signs that they want to leave.
People touching them inappropriately despite being pushed away. Closing in on them. Trying to kiss them. If the victim is not CLEARLY enthusiastic, do something. When people are drunk it’s pretty much one or the other: enthusiastic or politely not interested.
Just because they haven’t said no, doesn’t mean they’ve said yes.
A lot of people are insecure. A lot of people struggle with asserting themselves and they will more than likely just smile and not stick up for themselves.
Stand up for yourself. Your friends. Your instincts.
Learn to pick up on basic observations skills, and trust me when you do, that shit comes naturally, even if you’re drunk. I’ve threatened to hurt people at nightclubs for forcing themselves on my friends. I’ve also had friends do the same for me. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case 3 years ago but things have changed…
And just a little blood boiling extra detail:
He’s still at my university, every single day. I stay inside for weeks on end, avoiding social contact because I am so afraid of his presence. Tell me I’m a fucking lying attention seeker now, while I hibernate in my room and look around my shoulder every 2 seconds when I leave the house.
If it isn’t right, even in the slightest, do something.
Even if you’re wrong about your hunch, I can promise you that you will feel amazing if you protect someone from this. It will feel as if you have saved someone’s life, saved someone of years of torture to come.
If anything in this article has affected or distressed you, you can contact the following support services:
1800RESPECT (Ph: 1800 737 732)- National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service
Lifeline (Ph: 13 11 14)- 24-hours crisis support and suicide prevention
Beyondblue (Ph: 1300 224 636)- Mental health support
Suicide Call Back Service (Ph: 1300 659 467)
To read the full report click here