Sexual Assault and rape are universal and occur in all cultures and nations, regardless of whether or not there is a word for it in the language or laws against it in a person’s country of origin. In Australia, sexual assault and female genital mutilation are illegal and can result in the perpetrators being criminally convicted.
Regardless of cultural background, nationality or amount of English a person understands or speaks, being sexually assaulted in Australia is a crime.
Unfortunately some people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are subjected to sexual assault within marriage and may be told by their partner, friends and the community that it is acceptable. This is not true.
Perpetrators of sexual assault will often use all kinds of excuses for their actions and may hide behind their culture as an excuse. Many communities struggle with the idea of sexual assault, and find it easier to say it doesn’t happen, or that the person affected should just try not to think about it. It may be difficult finding someone in your community to help and support you. You may have fear that if you speak out, you will lose friends and family because of it.
Sexual assault is traumatic and you have the right to ask for help and you have the right to feel safe
Sexual assault is also a known tactic in war and is often used systematically to cause devastation in communities and to display power. The impact of war and sexual assault can have long term impacts on a survivors recovery and for refugees, may make adjusting to Australia even more challenging than what it would otherwise be.
It can be difficult to speak about sexual assault. You may feel that you are betraying your family or community, and that it will bring shame on them. Remember what has happened to you is a crime, and no-one ever deserves to be sexual assault. It may be hard if the person who sexual assaulted you was from your community.
You may feel uncomfortable about using a support service. The Rape Crisis Centre workers will listen without judging you or your community, and they will not pressure you to do anything. They will not tell anyone else what you have said.
You may be worried that what has happened may be a result of your culture or colour. Sometimes sexual assault can be used as an instrument of torture or because of racial hatred. It can help to talk about this too.
If you need an interpreter the Rape Crisis Centre can arrange one for you.
You may not feel you can trust health and welfare services – if you are from a country where there are no political, civil or social rights. If you are an illegal immigrant this might be especially worrying. In Australia, community organisations are not part of the government. CRCC will not notify anyone about your situation and can help you get advice.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault in war you can have counselling here with us at at CRCC and also access support through Companion House, which is an agency in Canberra that offers support to victims of torture and trauma.
In all emergencies phone the police on 000.
Phone the Rape Crisis Centre any time on (02) 6247 2525.