What is Sexual Harassment and Assault?

Sexual harassment and assault can be any sexual or sexualised act that makes a person feel uncomfortable, intimidated or frightened. It is behavior that a person has not invited or chosen. This includes a range of unwanted or forced sexual behavior including rape. Perpetrators of sexual assault use power, force and manipulation to attempt to control the body, senses and emotions of their victims.

It can be a crime.


Sexual harassment is any form of unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited sexual behavior. It can take many forms, including wolf whistles, leering, sexual innuendo, unsolicited physical contact of a sexual nature, sexual advances, and unwelcome remarks with sexual connotations.

Rape/sexual assault is defined as penetration of the vagina or anus with the penis, other body part or foreign object without consent. It also includes forced oral sex.

Marriage/defacto rape is when a regular partner pressures or forces their partner into having sex against their will. This is still rape, even though the other person is a spouse or regular sex partner.

Date/acquaintance rape is when a person is sexually assaulted by the person they are dating. You may be in an ongoing relationship, or it may be someone you have dated only once or twice. Acquaintance rape is when a friend or someone you have met, but don’t know very well, sexually assaults you.

Child sexual assault is any act of a sexual nature towards a child by someone older than the child or in a position of power.

Incest is sexual assault by a family member. This may be a parent, sibling, step-parent, uncle or any other family member.

Ritual abuse (R.A.) is organised, systematic and often bizarre violence including physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and sexual abuse. Specific rituals may take place in a cycle of annual dates such as a victim’s birthday, religious and other holidays, and full moons, although this differs widely. There is no discrepancy, however, in the horror and pain inflicted on the victims.

Perpetrators of ritual sexual abuse seek total power and control over children and captive adults. Drugs, trickery, dissociation, programming, ritual work and torture are used by abusers to confuse, terrorise and control their victim.


Sexual assault can happen to anyone. It happens to babies, children, adolescents, adults, males and females, young and old. It also happens to people from varying cultural backgrounds, religions, abilities and sexual orientation.


Perpetrators can be known (e.g. friends, family) or unknown; persons of any age. Perpetrators of sexual assault include both men and women.


QUT has policies and procedures if you have experienced sexual harassment:

As students, you have the power to say that sexual harassment is NEVER OK. We are encouraging students to make the pledge here.

This information has been supplied from https://www.neverok.org/sexual-harassment-and-assault/