Don’t forget! April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Cumberland Branch NSWNMA member and Willow Sexual Safety Champion Marcela Scarpenti wrote to The Lamp to remind our community about Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April.
Meet Marcela Scarpenti, Benjamin Clarke, Dorota Rodzen and Goran Otomancek. Together we are here to remind our consumers in Willow Rehabilitation Unit and everyone reading this article that April is Sexual Assault awareness month. Sexual Assault is the legal term given to describe a collective range of sexual offences committed against a person without their consent, making them feel uncomfortable and/or afraid.
Sexual Assault is most often reported as being committed by men against women. However, we need to remember that men too can be the victims of sexual offenders, as are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) persons in our communities.
Trauma of sexual assault is a strong predictor of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and has been associated with increased rates of other mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, substance dependence and suicide. This gives high importance to the need for Domestic Violence screening and Sexual Assault History on admission to facilities. It is important to be aware sometimes, a consumer in a mental health facility may not know how to make a complaint about sexual assault, and in some cases, may not fully understand what constitutes sexual assault.
Through increased knowledge, staff are able to provide gender sensitive and evidence-based practice, confidently implementing sexual safety policy and procedures in the prevention and management of sexual assault.
You can find out more about sexual assault awareness and our work here.
Help create a safer space for consumers and staff.
This piece has drawn on existing policies and procedures from Australia, in particular the NSW and QLD Sexual Safety Guidelines and VIC Chief Psychiatrist’s guidelines.