Townsville Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS)
If you have been sexually assaulted or raped, you have the following options:-
Call 000 if you are in danger, or contact a friend or relative, our Townsville Sexual Assault Support Service, and or one of the agencies below.
44 331 111
The Townsville Hospital or attend the Emergency Department
47 757 555
Townsville Sexual Assault Support Service or attend 50 Patrick St Aitkenvale 4814 during business hours.
47 599 743
The Sexual Assault Response Team is a joint partnership of specialist detectives, the Clinical Forensic Medical Unit from the Townsville Hospital, and our sexual assault counsellors.
Do I need a referral?
To speak with a counsellor you do not need a referral you can call the centre and ask to speak to a counsellor. The service is free and women and men will be provided support and/or appropriate referral pathways.
You can speak with one of our qualified counsellors about childhood sexual abuse or a recent sexual assault when you are ready, it doesn’t matter how long ago the abuse occurred. Counselling is not time limited, focus will be given to your needs and regular reviews will be completed guiding the work with the counsellor. The client has the right to end counselling at any time. If they do not feel comfortable with the counsellor, they can end the counselling right from the start. Counsellors understand that sometimes people are not suited to one another, or to a style of counselling, and so they will not take it personally if there is a request to see someone else.
Your information will remain private and confidential however, there are exceptions which are as follows.
If confidentiality needs to be broken we will, as far as possible, discuss it with the person concerned first. As part of our work we write brief case notes and attend regular counselling supervision.
The women’s centre employs tertiary qualified counsellors in social work, psychology, and the social sciences.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual Assault is uninvited, unwanted and unwelcomed sexual attention. Perpetrators of sexual assault use power, force and manipulation in an attempt to control another person’s body, senses and emotions.
Sexual assault is any sexual behaviour which is unwanted and makes you feel uncomfortable or afraid.
This can include:
Sexual assault is a crime
Sexual Assault is mostly perpetrated by men against women and children, with most sexual assaults being premeditated and well planned. Most victims/survivors are sexually assaulted by men they know and trust including, fathers, husbands, boyfriends, close family friends and neighbours. As a result, survivors of sexual assault can be left with social, emotional, medical and legal consequences.
If you have been sexually assaulted or raped, you may have experienced some or all of the following responses:
It can happen to anyone and is never the fault of the victim.
The experience and impact of sexual assault is different for everyone but whatever the reaction, it is a normal response to an extreme emotional and physical violation. It is estimated that one in four girls and one in seven boys will experience some form of sexual or indecent assault before they reach the age of 18 years.
In most incidences of child sexual assault the perpetrator will be known to the child, most commonly being a family member, family friend or trusted community member. The perpetrator will usually use a number of strategies to make the child believe the violence is their fault or that telling will lead to something terrible happening. Adults who experienced childhood sexual assault report that as children they felt they had to ‘be strong’ and ‘show no fear’. They had to ‘keep all their emotions bottled up’. Many report hatred and anger at the perpetrator/s and those who should have protected them. Others report hiding both physically and emotionally. The behaviours and strategies that children develop in order to resist and survive can continue to affect them in their adult lives.
While everyone responds differently to being sexually assaulted, there are some feelings that many adults who experienced childhood sexual assault talk about:
It is Important to talk about how you are feeling
When you are ready, you can speak with one of our qualified counsellors about childhood sexual abuse or a more recent sexual assault.
Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Assault
Children who have experienced sexual assault have had their childhood innocence and trust betrayed. Some adult survivors of child sexual assault may feel depressed, angry, fearful and anxious and unsafe in the world.
Survivors may develop strategies to avoid overwhelming feelings, thoughts and memories, including:
For some, the childhood experience of sexual violence leads to mental health impacts in adulthood. It is important to remember that the impacts are a direct result of the trauma associated with childhood sexual assault, and not because the adult has a personality disorder or is defective in some way.
Recovery from childhood sexual assault is difficult but is possible. Recovery becomes an experience in that person’s life and means that the impacts of childhood sexual violence is not an event that controls and dominates their life.
What is Child Sexual Assault?
Any act of a sexual nature, or sexual threat, or exhibition of sexual behaviours, imposed on a child under the age of 16 years is a serious crime. Those who sexually assault children take advantage of the child’s trust, innocence and vulnerability. Child sexual assault is committed against both girls and boys. Statistics show the perpetrator is most often a family member or a person known to the child.
What to do if you suspect or you child tells you that she/he has been sexually assaulted ?
When a child discloses sexual assault to a parent or caregiver, it is important the child receives support and reassurance. Children need to hear from their parent or caregiver that it is NOT their fault, that they did the right thing in disclosing, that they are not in trouble, and that the parent or caregiver will do everything they can to protect and support the child from here on.
Hearing a child disclose sexual assault is shocking and overwhelming, particularly if the perpetrator is a partner, family member or friend. The disclosure will often leave the parent or caregiver feeling hurt and angry that their trust has been betrayed. It is common to feel guilty for not being able to protect the child, which is why it’s crucial to remember the perpetrator is the only person responsible for what has happened.
Sometimes children who have been sexually assaulted find it hard to disclose due to fear, not being able to articulate what is happening to them, or often because the perpetrator has made some sort of threat to keep them quiet. Children may not disclose what has happened for some time. Sometimes they may use other ways of letting an adult know, which can include unusual and sudden behaviour changes such as tantrums, expressions of fear of strangers or the dark, wetting the bed, sexually explicit play, not wanting to go to school or play with friends or attend family outings. More than anything, the child needs support, safety, comfort and love, for now and in the future.
Children and young people cope best when their family and environment is calm, caring and accepting. A child who has been sexually assaulted may need medical treatment and if the last assault was recent, forensic evidence may be available to assist police. It is important that counselling options are made available for the child, and for their supporters because everyone who cares about the child will be impacted by the sexual assault. The Department of Child Safety will need to be informed. Their role it is to ensure safety for the child and other children the perpetrator may have access to.
Sexual Assault support and thereupetic groups are provided four times a year.
The groups are free to attend and is facilitated by qualified counsellors in a confidential, safe and supportive environment.
Support Group for Mothers whose children have been sexually abused
Sexual Assault Survivors’ Group
The Sexual Assault Support Service provides outreach counselling to the rural centres of Ayr, Ingham and Charters Towers each month. The issues that women have identified in these communities include and are not limited to, lack of transport, lack of specialist services, geographic isolation, wanting to relocate to another town, inability to remain anonymous, and on-going contact with the perpetrator due to residing in a small town.
To make an appointment to talk to a counsellor in one of the above areas, please email us firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 07 47 757 555 during office hours.
Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre
A sexual assault counsellor from The Women’s Centre visits the Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre for an afternoon each week to offer ongoing counselling, support, information and education to women. This is a free service provided to the correctional facility by the Townsville Sexual Assault Service.