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Sexual violence

Talking to young people about sexual violence

The National Community Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women Survey results show many young people don’t understand the importance of consent and mutuality in sexual negotiations. Given in Australia young women aged 16 to 24 are most at risk of sexual violence — and most often from men they know — these findings are cause for serious concern.

  • 2 in 5 young people agreed ‘rape results from men not being able to control their sexual urges’ (this is a downward trend, given results from the 2009 national report showed the previous comparable figure was 1 in 3).
  • 1 in 5 believe that women often say no to sex when they mean yes.

It is important you speak to both young men and young women about sexual consent, mutuality and how to safely speak with a partner about any sexual activity taking place. Coming from a place of non-judgement and discrimination is crucial here. And it’s important to not assume a young person’s sexual preference or identity.

Pay particular care to not use language that makes girls and women solely responsible for their safety — physical and emotional — when having sex with a male. This includes language that blames them for — or makes it seem like they have some control over — the violent, harassing or bullying actions of men.

Saying things like ‘you shouldn’t have sent nude photos of yourself to anyone’, ‘be careful about what you wear — people might get the wrong idea’ and ‘how much did you have to drink?’ makes victims responsible for the actions of men who have made a choice to use violence against them. They create a culture of shame for women and perpetuate myths that violence between men and women is somehow mutual. It is also important to talk about consent as a process and not reducing it to ‘she didn’t say “no”’.

What they say or think What you can talk about
Men can’t control their sexual urges
  • Tell me about men not being able to control their sexual urges.
  • Most men control their sexual urges all the time.
  • Sexual assault is an act of power — it has nothing to do with sexual desire.
He said that if I loved him, I would have sex with him
  • What did you think when Matt said you would have sex with him if you loved him. What did you do?
  • Do you wish Matt said something different?
  • It is up to you when you feel ready to have a sexual relationship. It is not okay for anyone else to pressure you into sex.


Buzzfeed video on consent

Would you steal $5? This video explains the concept of consent in an easy-to-understand way.

Would You Steal $5?

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