General News

9 August, 2022

Sexual assault support group to help survivors

WITH latest statistics on sexual assault exposing the issue as a “national crisis”, Tablelands Sexual Assault Service has moved to set up the first ever support groups in Mareeba and Atherton to help a rising number of victims through their healing process.

By Ellie Fink

Sexual assault support group to help survivors
Sexual assault support group to help survivors

Sexual assault cases in the region have surged in the past 18 months, mirroring Australian Bureau of Statistics which reveal that in 2021, more than 31,000 sexual assaults and rapes were reported across the country, increasing from 69 survivors per 100,000 people to 121 survivors per 100,000 people. 

TSAS counsellor and community educator Carey has watched the number of people reporting sexual assaults increase drastically in the past few months and believes there are many contributing factors. 

“As a service, we feel that the increase in referrals is possibly due to a number of factors including sexual harassment and sexual violence having more of a presence in the broader media, social media and political context,” she said. 

“Nationally it has also been related to Covid mandates and lockdowns. 

“Consistent with national data, there has certainly been an increase in referrals over the past 18 months across the Tablelands region and we have also seen an increase in the complexity and severity of sexual harm, particularly perpetrated against children and young people. 

“More flexible reporting options and procedural changes through Queensland Police Service are encouraging reporting and we hope to see continuous improvement in responses.” 

With numbers skyrocketing every day, TSAS has opened their doors to accommodate new support groups in Atherton and Mareeba that can help assist women and men who have been assaulted or raped. 

The TSAS Women’s Sexual Assault Group provides a safe place for women survivors to come and support one another after their assault. 

The group focusses strongly on bringing the women together to problem solve, build connections and strengthen their community and access to specialised advice and sexual assault practitioners over a cup of coffee. 

Although the group is still in its early stages, it has already assisted many women within the community, including Mareeba woman Kira Jade Taylor who was sexually assaulted in 2019.

Kira openly shared her story to social media after attending the women’s support group and expressed how she was able to regain her strength and dignity after the unimaginable happened to her. 

“After it happened, I found myself lost for a very long time but with the help of TSAS I was able to once again regain my strength to keep moving forward with my life,” she said. 

“I honestly don't know what I would have done without their support, and I will forever be grateful for their services. 

“I know as a survivor I found a part of me wanted to just hide it away forever, as if it never happened to me, but one thing I've learnt throughout that painful experience is I can't hide it, it is now a part of who I am for the rest of my life. 

“But I also found that sharing my story with others who have experienced the same thing I have helped not only myself heal but also helped others heal as well. 

“It was only when another shared their story with me did, I started to feel like I wasn't alone, and my feelings were normal.

It was only then I started to really heal from what had happened to me. 

“So, I encourage anyone who has been put through this to come along to our support group you do not have to tell your story if you don't want to, some people may only come to listen. And that's okay! 

“We are here to support you and help you and to remind you that you are not alone.” 

TSAS Women’s Sexual Assault Group meets every second Wednesday, with the next meeting on 17 August at Atherton CWA Hall from 9am until 11am and Mareeba CWA Hall from 1pm until 3pm. 

If you have been sexually assaulted and are looking for help, contact TSAS on 40914036.

The Facts
23 per cent of women over 18 have experience sexual violence.
8 per cent of men over 18 have experience sexual violence.
According to the 2016 Personal Safety Survey that surveyed 639,000 survivors, only 13per cent reported to the police.
87 per cent of assaults are never reported to the police.
The most common perpetrator of sexual assault and rape is by an intimate partner.
42 per cent of Australians think it’s common for sexual assault accusations to be used as a way of getting back at men

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