What is sexual harm?

At RMIT we used the term 'sexual harm' as an umbrella term when talking about unwanted sexual acts that include sexual harassment and sexual assault, including rape.

Sexual harm can be any unwanted sexual act; or attempt to obtain a sexual act; unwanted comments, or advances and can be by any person, in any setting (in person or online).

Get help and information

We can talk to you about your rights and options – including where and how you can report what has happened. You are entitled to choose the path that is best for you. Sometimes we will need to take steps to protect the safety of our community – we will always discuss this with you first.

If you’ve experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment or have a friend that has, you can contact Safer Community.  

We can provide specialist support, help you with safety planning, connect you with practical support services (e.g  housing, financial, legal).  You may require special consideration, or support around timetabling or other academic assistance.

We can connect you with Victoria’s specialist sexual assault counselling and advocacy service - the Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA).  RMIT Counsellors are also available.

How to support someone who discloses sexual harm to you

What do you do if someone tells you they have experienced sexual harm? While it might seem daunting, chances are the person reached out to you because they trust you. When someone has experienced sexual harm their choices have been taken away from them, so it is important for them to reclaim control of their decision making. You can encourage them to seek support and advise them of their support options, but respect them in their decisions.

It is important to respond to disclosures of sexual harm in a supportive, compassionate and non-blaming way so that you do not cause further distress to the person who discloses to you. Most importantly you must listen, believe and affirm. This may include helping them to find support. 

RMIT has released a short online learning module called 'How to support someone who discloses sexual harm to you' to help give you the skills, knowledge and confidence to respond to someone who has experienced sexual harm. 

What is sexual consent?

Giving your consent means that you freely agree and are entirely comfortable having sex or participating in a sexual act. Consent has to be continuous and on your terms – you can change your mind at any time.

There are situations where free agreement to sex (consent) isn't possible, including when you are asleep or unconscious, significantly intoxicated or affected by drugs, threatened or unlawfully detained, unable to understand consent due to age, language barriers, intellectual or cognitive capacity or if you are under the legal age of consent.

Still confused about consent? The Consent is Everything website explains this in more detail.