What is Rape? What is Sexual Assault?
What is Consent? When is your consent not freely and voluntarily given?
What are the Effects of Rape/Sexual Assault What can I do if I am raped/sexually assaulted?


The Queensland Police Service acknowledges that many survivors of rape and sexual assault have reasons for not officially reporting the crime or not wanting to go through the court process.  There are many myths and untruths about rape and sexual assault that contribute to the difficulty in survivors speaking out about their experience.   This resource package will provide you with information about your options should you be the survivor of rape or sexual assault.  It is aimed at assisting you in making an informed decision. 

What is Rape?

Any offender who rapes you has committed a crime The maximum penalty for this crime can be life imprisonment.

In general terms an offender rapes you if –

  • The offender has sexual intercourse with you without your consent; or
  • The offender without your consent penetrates your vulva, vagina or anus to any extent with a foreign object or a part of the offender’s body that is not a penis (eg finger); or
  • The offender without your consent penetrates your mouth to any extent with his penis.

Sexual intercourse without consent is rape.

Oral sex without consent is rape. 

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted or forced sexual act or behaviour without consent.  It covers a broad range of sexual activity.  Sexual assault is a crime and occurs when an offender:

  • Without lawful reason indecently assaults you (eg groping, inappropriate touching of a sexual nature) or
  • Procures you, without your consent, to commit an act of gross indecency (eg you perform a sexual act on the offender).

What is Consent?

  • Consent is freely and voluntarily given by a person with the cognitive capacity to do so.
    ​Consent is not freely and voluntarily given if you:
  • Are under force;
  • Are unconscious or asleep;
  • Are under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • Are under threat or intimidation;
  • ​Are in fear of bodily harm;
  • By exercise of authority; 
  • Are under false or fraudulent representations about the nature or purpose of the act; or
  • Have a mistaken belief that the offender was your sexual partner.

What are the Effects of Rape and Sexual Assault

The survivor of a rape or sexual assault may experience a range of physical, emotional and behavioural effects. These effects may vary depending on a number of variables including: the relationship with the offender, the brutality of the crime, the survivor’s self esteem and the level of support received.

It should be pointed out that different people will experience varying effects of rape. Rape can be an extremely traumatic event; however the recovery is largely dependent upon the person’s frame of mind and inner strength. One rape survivor was known to say, "He had control of my life for an hour. I am not giving him a second more".

Outlined below are just some of the effects that may be felt by a survivor of rape or sexual assault:

Emotional – Depression, fear, sense of powerlessness, withdrawal, anxiety, lack of trust, shame, self-blame, guilt, humiliation, anger, rage, betrayal, low self-worth, phobias.

Physical – Disease, injuries, pregnancy, urinary tract infections, headaches, muscle tension, gastro-intestinal upsets.

Behavioural – Suicidal actions, anorexia or other eating disorders, alcohol/drug addiction, isolation, sleeping disorders, nightmares, night sweats.

It is important to remind yourself you are no longer a victim but instead a survivor. 

​​What can I do if I am raped or sexually assaulted?

If you are raped or sexually assaulted, there are a number of options available to you to protect your personal health and assist in restoring your feelings of safety and security:

  • Get to a place where you feel safe – this could be your home, a friend’s house or a police station.
  • Seek medical assistance.  Even if you do not think you have any physical injuries, you may want to be examined for the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Consider calling someone you feel comfortable talking to for support.

Seek counselling support and assistance from a sexual assault support service - see ‘​Support Resources’. They can offer you support and assistance to deal with the consequences of the assault

  • Do not blame yourself for the attack. No one is responsible for the offender’s actions but the offender. No one ever asks or deserves to be sexually assaulted or raped. The most important thing is your survival. Believe in your own self worth.