Sexual Assault

What is a sexual assault?

Sexual Assault describes a broad range of sexual crimes committed against a person. These crimes include sexual intercourse without consent and indecent assault. Sexual Assault is a crime of violence. It can be a frightening experience that may have long term effects. These effects occur regardless of a person's age, gender, status, culture, ability or sexuality. Although women are primarily the victims of sexual assault, men can also be victims.

Resource: Telling your story and getting help

The information in this PDF has been prepared for current and past survivors of sexual offences who are over the age of 16 to outline what they may expect when making an official report to the Western Australia Police Force. The information in this book is intended to help you if you are considering reporting an offence that has already occurred or you have reported an offence.

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How to report a sexual assault

Report sexual assault matters to your local police station or call police on 131 444. Sex Assault Squad can be contacted on (08) 9428 1600.

When reporting:

  • You will be listened to.
  • You will be treated with dignity and respect.
  • You will be kept informed of the progress of your investigation and
  • You will be provided with assistance to access support services if you require them.

Why should I report a sexual assault?

When a victim reports a sexual assault to police they will be offered access to the Department of Health's free and confidential counselling services.

If the sexual assault was recent and the victim agrees, the counsellor will arrange for a forensic medical examination. This examination will gather evidence for court, if the victim decides to pursue criminal action.

If the victim prefers not to involve police at this stage they can contact the Sexual Assault Resource Centre 24-hour crisis line on (08) 6458 1828 or freecall on 1800 199 888 to access counselling and medical services. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It is never too late to report a sexual assault. Some victims choose to report sexual assaults immediately, others may report days, months and even years later.

What happens if I report a sexual assault to police?

A detective will investigate the assault and will remain involved throughout the investigation and any subsequent court proceedings.

When reporting a sexual assault the victim will be asked to provide a statement. This will involve remembering the assault in clear detail and being open and honest about these details. We know it is not easy for victims to reveal certain facts, but it is important to disclose everything. If some details are left out, this can have a negative impact on the investigation and any subsequent court proceedings.

Victims are allowed to have a support person with them while making their statement and they have a right to a copy of the statement.

A victim's preference for being interviewed by a female or male police officer will be met, wherever possible and police will keep strict confidentiality during the investigation.

How can police help me?

When victims report a sexual assault, police officers will be respectful, non-judgemental, supportive and understanding. Even if a victim does not want action to be taken by police, reporting the sexual assault helps the police to record the crime, which might assist with future investigations.

Generally, no action will be taken to investigate a sexual assault without the permission of the victim. The welfare and safety of the victim is the main concern to police. However, sometimes it may be in the interest of the general public to proceed with the investigation.

The investigating detective will provide victims with relevant information on a range of issues including counselling, forensic and medical services, criminal proceedings and victim compensation.

Most sexual assault investigations are conducted by the WA Police Force Sex Assault Squad.

If there is sufficient evidence an offender will be charged by police and prosecuted by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. This service is free for the victim.

The time from reporting the sexual assault to the completion of the court case can be an extended period of time and may be very difficult for victims. However, there are support services available to provide information, referral and support for victims and witnesses. This can help reduce the trauma of attending court to give evidence.

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