Survivor Story – Sexual violence by a stranger, Anna*

Anna* contacted DVConnect’s Sexual Assault Helpline and told our counsellor that she was raped one evening after leaving university, on her way to the train. Anna told the Sexual Assault Helpline counsellor that when she told her friend, they asked her “Why didn’t you just run away?” Anna had not spoken about the assault since, because she was unsure how people would respond and was concerned people would think she could have prevented it. The Sexual Assault Helpline counsellor reiterated that what happened to Anna was not a result of her actions but that it was a choice made by the abuser, therefore the shame and blame was not her responsibility. Anna was referred to specialised counselling services in her area and was given information about a Rape Survivors Support Group in her area that she could access for further support. This survivor story shows how the Sexual Assault Helpline can be the “first port of call” for people who have experienced sexual assault and how it’s important to acknowledge the seriousness of sexual assault, respond in a way that does not victim blame, and refer onto the most suitable ongoing support service for the survivor.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

Survivor Story – Sexual abuse as a young boy, Hussein*

A Sexual Assault Helpline counsellor received a call from Hussein*, a man in his forties who had been assaulted as a young person. Hussein did not feel comfortable providing much in the way of identifying information about himself to our counsellor, nor did he have to. What he did want to talk about was how he felt memories of his past experience had been seeping into his consciousness more and more in recent times. Hussein had not reported the sexual assault to anyone previously and felt that he had “dealt with it all”, moving forward with his life and keeping his past buried. Although this had worked for him previously, Hussein reached out to our Sexual Assault Helpline because the impact his past experience was having on him in the present, could no longer be ignored. Our Sexual Assault Helpline counsellor supported Hussein during his first disclosure and talked him through options and the referral pathways available to him, including information about MARS Australia (Men Affected by Rape and Sexual Abuse). Hussein ended his contact with DVConnect’s Sexual Assault Helpline, equipped with information and resources to support him in addressing what had happened. In addition, he received a non-judgemental and professional response from the Sexual Assault Helpline counsellor, who was able to ease Hussein’s nerves about reaching out and provide a safe space for him to disclose details of trauma he had experienced many years earlier.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

Survivor Story – Sexual abuse as a young girl by a family member, Jane*

Jane* contacted the Sexual Assault Helpline from the Brisbane* area and advised the counsellor that she was “having a meltdown,” and needed to talk to someone. Jane, now in her mid-thirties, stated that when she was 14 years old, she had been sexually assaulted by an Uncle. Jane said that a few years after the assault, her Uncle had left Australia and returned to the UK where her family had migrated from and she hadn’t seen or spoken to him since. The reason Jane was calling in a distressed state was that she had just found out that her Uncle was returning to the area she now lived in and that she had started to have flashbacks of the abuse. Jane disclosed that she had never reported the assault to anyone and noone in her family knew. When asked whether there was a family member that she could trust with this information, Jane identified that her sister would likely support her and be able to manage questions around why Jane would not be attending family events where her Uncle would also be present. The Sexual Assault Helpline counsellor confirmed with Jane that she felt safe where she currently lived and offered strategies to manage the flashbacks. Jane was also encouraged to speak with her sister if she felt safe to do so and our counsellor reiterated the value in having support networks. Jane was also provided with contact information for the local Women’s Centre in her area to access counselling which Jane was very interested in. Jane finished the call with the Sexual Assault Helpline counsellor feeling equipped with knowledge of local support services, strategies to manage her flashbacks and a plan to speak with her sister. 

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

Survivor Story – Sexual abuse by a family friend, Louis*

Louis* contacted the Sexual Assault Helpline to talk about something that happened the previous night that made him uncomfortable. Louis shared that he had a disability that impacted on his overall size and strength and that his parents were his full time carers. Louis disclosed that his parents went away to attend a close friend’s engagement celebrations overnight and they has arranged a family friend to stay with Louis in their absence. Louis said that this person touched him inappropriately, and continued to do so after Louis had physically resisted and told them to stop. Louis said he felt helpless and angry at having a disability that prevented him from being able to stop someone from sexually abusing him. The Sexual Assault Helpline counsellor stressed that the assault was not his fault and the person who did this to him is the one responsible for their behaviour. After Louis told his parents what had happened, they wanted to press charges. However, Louis was unsure of whether he wanted to go down this path. The Sexual Assault Helpline counsellor validated his feelings and emphasised that it was his decision whether or not to press charges as he would be the one going through the investigation process. During the conversation, Louis was provided with information about other services that could support him, including information about Living Well which provide face to face specialist sexual assault counselling and support.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.

Survivor Story – Coerced into sex by ex-partner, Maria*

Maria* rang the Sexual Assault Helpline and requested information about local services she could contact for face-to-face support. DVConnect’s Sexual Assault Helpline counsellor provided Maria with details of services nearby, however she expressed concern the services wouldn’t support her based on her own experience perhaps not meeting the “eligibility criteria” to receive assistance. Maria stated she had been separated from her ex-partner for 2 years, however he continued to visit their son and would then pressure Maria for sex at her home. Maria was coerced into having sex with her ex-partner out of fear of what he might do if she refused, and because she wanted to ensure her son would continue to have a relationship with his father. Maria said she hated what was happening to her but she thought it would not be classified as sexual assault as she had previously been in a consensual relationship with her son’s father and therefore, no one would believe her. Maria cried after sharing her story because she received the validation she needed and confirmation that what she had been experiencing for many years was sexual violence. Maria was linked into relevant support which enabled her to access ongoing face-to-face counselling.

*Name and location have been changed to protect our client’s identity.


Call the Sexual Assault Helpline

Call 1800 010 120

Counsellors are available from 7:30am until 11:30pm, 7 days

Talking to someone about what I went through as a kid wasn't easy. It took me decades to open up to someone and that person ended up being a stranger at DVConnect. Talking to someone and get referred to MARS Australia (Men Affected by Rape and Sexual Abuse) has helped a lot.

- Sexual Assault Helpline Caller

How your donation will help

  • Provides operational support to fund our bridging accommodation residence Bella's Sanctuary.
  • Provides emergency transport and accommodation for Queenslanders in crisis due to domestic and family violence.
  • Provides safety planning, crisis counselling and information to those impacted by domestic and family violence.
  • Educates Queenslanders on how to help family, friends and colleagues who have experienced, or are experiencing domestic and family violence.