What is Sexual Assault?

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is defined as any behavior of sexual nature that makes someone feel uncomfortable, frightened, intimidated or threatened. It is sexual behavior that someone has not agreed to, where another person uses physical or emotional force against them. Sexual assault is a crime, it’s an abuse of power and it is never the fault or responsibility of the victim/survivor.

Age of Consent

The law says if you are:

Under 12, no one can have sex with you or touch you sexually or perform a sexual act in front of you.

Aged 12-15, a person that is within 2 calendar years of your age can have sex with you with consent.

Aged 16-17, no one who is caring for you or supervising you can have sex with you or touch you sexually, even if you agree.

Examples of Sexual Assault

Stalking; repeatedly being followed or watched by someone

Rape; being forced to have sex

Unwanted touching; pinching, patting, embracing, rubbing, groping, kissing, being touched on the breast, bum, legs ect.

Sexual Harassment; dirty jokes or rude comments about sex.

Obscene gestures; simulating masturbation in front of a person.

Voyeurism; being watched doing intimate things without permission.

Sex-related insults; calling someone names of the sexual nature.

Indecent exposure; someone showing private parts of their body or flashing their genitals.

Being forced to watch or participate in porn; taking a photo without permission, forcing someone to be on video, making someone a pornographic movie.

Incest/intrafamilial child sexual assault; a family member engaging in sexual activity with a child or young person.


The legal definition of consent is ‘free agreement’.

A person must have the capacity to give free agreement. this capacity is based on the person; being the right age, being sober, having the mental and physical ability to freely agree.


Victoria Legal Aid (2008), Am I Old Enough

CASA Forum (2008), Standards of Practice 2nd Edition

Department of Human Services (2006) Child Sexual Abuse, Understanding and Responding: for professional working with children who have experienced sexual abuse