Message from the Chief Commissioner


Release date: Thu 1 January 2015

Last updated: Wed 27 September 2017

Sexual Offences

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What do I do if I have just been sexually assaulted?

  • Go somewhere you feel safe
  • Call Triple Zero '000'
  • Don't disturb the area where the offence happened
  • If possible, refrain from showering or bathing as this may destroy evidence that can be used in court
  • Refrain from washing or discarding the clothes you wore during the offence.

If you are concerned about something that has happened to you, we encourage you to come and speak with us. This is often described as 'reporting'. You need not worry about your actions or choices, you will be taken seriously. Our investigators are trained to understand these complex situations.

If you are considering reporting an offence to police, this booklet on "Reporting Sexual Assault to Police" will help you understand your options and what will happen next. It is available in 20 languages and Easy English.

Additional support options for adults and children

What kinds of behaviours count as sexual offending?

Sexual offending refers to a broad range of sexual behaviours by another person that make you feel uncomfortable, frightened, threatened. It doesn't always include physical harm or injury but it can do.

Sexual offences can include any or all of:

  • Unwanted touching, fondling, kissing, grabbing
  • Being made to look at, or pose for, pornographic photos
  • Rape
  • Incest/interfamilial child sexual offence
  • Strangling or stalking in combination with the above.
  • Digital, photographic and/or social media exposure of any of the above

These acts may also be a feature of a broader pattern of violence. Evidence shows that a perpetrator committing sexual offending within a family violence context is a high risk of future harm to that victim.

Forms of sexual degradation and humiliation, whilst not in themselves criminal offences should still be reported to police.

About sexual offences

Sexual offences are serious crimes that can have a long lasting effect on victims/survivors, their families and the community. Any form of a sexual offence is serious and everyone is entitled to protection under the law.

Sexual offenders choose to commit these crimes; they are responsible for their actions. No portion of blame or responsibility lies with the victim.

Offenders come from all walks of life. They can subject adults, young people and/or children to sexual crimes regardless of whether the victim is an intimate partner, a family member, a workmate or friend, an acquaintance, a stranger or anyone else.

Offending may be ongoing, occasional or a single incident, and it happens more frequently than people realise.

Victoria Police is committed to providing the highest level of service to all victim/survivors of sexual offences regardless of age, gender, cultural background or disability. We have dedicated teams of detectives who are specialists in the investigation of sexual offences and child abuse. Our work is guided by the Victoria Police Code of Practice for the Investigation of Sexual Assault.

How do I know what is and isn't a sexual offence?

Sexual offences are a violation of human rights. Often people wonder whether what has been done to them is rape or another sexual offence, so we want to let you know how the law sees sexual offending. It is the role of the police detective to work out whether there will be enough evidence for it to be considered a criminal offence.

The concept of consent underpins the way the law considers these offences

The law states this means' free agreement' and that both parties must agree to a sexual act in order for there to be consent.

Because the law says both parties must freely agree to the sexual act in order for there to be consent, it also outlines a number of circumstances in which someone is automatically considered as unable to give consent including:

  • If you are drunk
  • If you are drug affected
  • If you are asleep or unconscious
  • If you are unable to understand the sexual nature of what is happening
  • If you submit because of force or fear of force or harm (including to someone else)
  • If you are held against your will
  • If you are a child
  • If you are mistaken about the identity of the other person
  • If you are led to believe it is for a medical or hygienic purpose
  • If you consent then later withdraw consent to the act

Children 12 years and under, are legally regarded as not being able to give informed consent to sexual activity so it is automatically an offence to engage in any sexual offence with a child under 12 years of age.

The law acknowledges that for child victim/survivors and their families, sexual and physical abuse is especially complex because of their age, reduced capacity to self-protect, often familial relationships with the offender and the secrecy that surrounds the abuse. More information on child abuse .

How do police respond?

Sexual offences and child abuse are crimes that require a specialist response from police.

Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (SOCITs) are staffed by experienced and qualified Victoria Police detectives specially trained to respond to and investigate sexual offences and child abuse.

Some SOCIT teams work in Multi-Disciplinary Centres (MDCs) which offer a range of services for victims of sexual offences under the one roof, away from the police station environment. You can find a fact sheet with more information about MDCs on our Publications page.

The SOCIT response prioritises the needs of victims. Any investigation is a victim-led process. They aim to ensure your safety and wellbeing; your ability to regain control of your circumstances; and to provide access to support, information, justice and services appropriate to your need.

Remember, any form of a sexual offence is serious and everyone, including you, is entitled to protection under the law.

Related Victoria Police information

For more information see


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