Reporting on sexual assault

Media backgrounder – February 2012

The significance of sexual assault

The impact of sexual violence

Victim/survivors of sexual assault often experience profound and ongoing trauma as a result. According to South East CASA, some of the impacts of sexual assault on victim/survivors include:

  • powerless and loss of control;
  • disturbed sleep;
  • depression;
  • anxiety;
  • fear; and
  • low self-esteem, amongst many others.

Sexual violence is a serious issue

VicHealth has identified violence against women as the most significant risk factor for the health of women aged 15–45 years, costing the Australian community $8.1 billion per year (Access Economics, 2004).

Sexual assault is one of the most under reported offences

Many victim/survivors do not speak out about it because of fear and shame, among other reasons.

Victim-blaming attitudes are still prevalent in Australian society

There is a lack of community understanding about the circumstances in which sexual assault occurs, and the impact it has on victims/survivors.

Sexual violence is preventable

As a community, we can take steps towards stopping sexual violence. Responsible and ethical media reporting is one way to help achieve this.