What to do if you've been sexually assaulted or abused

Even though there is a difference between assault and abuse, the most important thing in both situations is that you are safe. If you’ve been sexually abused and are living with the person who has abused you, there are a number of things you can do to get out safely. There are also some great supports available if you have been assaulted or abused.

This might help if you:

  • Have been sexually assaulted or abused
  • Need to know what to do
  • Want to know where to get help
Two feet standing between wooden slate fence

The important stuff

If you have experienced either sexual assault or sexual abuse, the most important thing to do is stay safe. Things you may need to think about:
  • If you’re in immediate danger or you are worried about your safety, contact emergency services on 000 immediately and try to get to somewhere safe.
  • Find someone you can talk to like a friend, family member, counsellor or youth worker. You can also contact an organisation in your state or territory that can give you relevant information on seeking help.
  • Medical support can be really valuable if you have been sexually assaulted or abused. If you can, try and get to a hospital or health centre where they can give you appropriate medical care.
  • Trust yourself. If someone has assaulted you or is abusing you it can be hard to feel confident about what to do next. Remember it is never ok for someone to assault or abuse you for any reason.
  • Know your legal rights. Laws vary from state to state. To find out about your rights check out the Lawstuff website.

If you’ve been sexually abused

Recognising that there is a problem is the first stage of getting help. If you are living with the person who has abused you, there are a number of options available if you need to get out.

Refuges and shelters can be great places seek temporary accommodation. There are also usually a number of other services available in refuges, including legal advice, emotional support, practical help (like food and clothing), and good security.

Family or friends. If you can, get in contact with a family member or friend that you trust and ask if you can stay with them while you work out what to do next.

Other things to think about

Financial support- Centrelink can make crisis payments in some circumstances. For more information, check out the Centrelink page about crisis payment.
Legal support- There are a number of laws in place that you can use to protect yourself from sexual abuse. To find out more, check out the lawstuff website.
Medical support- If you’re injured, and particularly if you have been sexually assaulted, contact emergency services or visit your nearest hospital emergency department.

Where to get help for assault or abuse

1800 RESPECT is a good place to start if you have experienced sexual assault or abuse. You can also find out about more services for individuals affected by sexual assault in the 'Sexual assault support' fact sheet.

What can I do now?


Last reviewed: 07 August, 2015
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