Sexual violence is a major health, welfare and social issue in Australia and worldwide that can result in a range of serious, potentially long-term consequences. These include physical, psychological, financial, legal and spiritual consequences for individuals and communities.

One way to understand sexual violence is as an abuse of power, most often perpetrated by men against women, children, young people and other men. Sexual violence can take many forms, including assault, abuse and harassment, and the experiences may vary across population groups and in different settings. The responses, or actions taken, when sexual violence occurs can also be wide ranging and depend on the forms of violence experienced and the context in which it occurs. Sexual violence responses are likely to be a mix of informal responses (such as contact with friends and family) and formal responses (such as assistance from police, legal services, specialist crisis services or health professionals). Responses can be initiated by victim survivors, by another person, or sometimes by the perpetrator.

Currently, no single data source can describe the range of formal responses to sexual violence across Australia. This report brings together data from a range of sources to build a better understanding of where people seek support and the service use patterns. It also discusses data gaps, highlights opportunities for data improvements and complements the ongoing Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) national reporting on family, domestic and sexual violence.