Campaign aims to bust sexual assault myths

Jessica Cave of Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District is challenging sexual assault myths

A new campaign launched locally aims to challenge sexual assault myths.

Jessica Cave, a sexual assault counsellor with Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD), is working with police, lawyers and the community to change perceptions.

Ms Cave said that fight, flight and freeze are all normal responses to a sexual assault and survivors shouldn’t be judged for their reaction.

“There’s no right or wrong way to react during or after a sexual assault,” she said.

“Over 50 per cent of assault survivors say they actually ‘just froze’ and were unable to fight back or scream for help.”

Ms Cave hopes the #ijustfroze campaign, which started in Scotland and is now being launched in the NBMLHD, will help police, lawyers, court agencies and the community to understand why survivors of sexual assault sometimes just ‘freeze’.

“When frightened, part of our brains can actually shut down and immobilise our bodies. It’s a perfectly normal reaction and out of our conscious control,” Ms Cave said.

“Unfortunately, survivors who froze during an assault sometimes think others, including their family, friends and the police, may judge them for not fighting back. They can feel ashamed and decide to not talk about or report the assault.”

Five people a week seek assistance from, or are referred to, the NBMLHD Integrated Violence Prevention and Response Service (IVPRS) for support, counselling, court preparation and forensic medical examinations.

IVPRS can be contacted on 4734 2512.

Emily Newton

Emily Newton is the Weekender’s police and political reporter. Emily is also the Weekender’s Senior Journalist.