Survivors of Abuse

Definitions of Sexual Harm

It can be challenging for survivors of sexual harm to feel confident about seeking support and assistance. Knowing the ways in which sexual harm is defined can be of assistance to people to enable them to speak out and seek support in relation to their experiences.

The term ‘sexual harm’ is used to describe the range of unwanted sexual experiences people may be subjected to and includes child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation and rape. All forms of sexual harm involve an exploitation of vulnerability, betrayal of trust and the misuse of positional power.

Child sexual abuse occurs when another child, adolescent or adult uses their position of trust and/or authority with a child to subject them to sexual activity that they do not fully comprehend, are unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society. Child sexual abuse involves a range of behaviours. The Kids Help Line website has more information about child sexual abuse, grooming, behavioural and physical signs of child sexual abuse, the impacts of child sexual abuse and ideas for keeping children safe from child sexual abuse.

Sexual Harassment is defined as any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, where is it reasonable to expect that the other person would be offended, afraid or humiliated.
Sexual harassment is determined from the point of view of the person feeling harassed and includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • unwelcome touching or kissing
  • sexualised comments, jokes or name-calling
  • leering or staring
  • sexual pictures, objects, emails, text messages or literature
  • direct or implied propositions, or requests for dates
  • asking about a person’s sexual history or sexual activities
  • stalking


More information about sexual harassment can be found on the Equal Opportunity website.

Sexual Assault is a term used to describe a range of unwanted sexual behaviours that a person may be subjected to which they have not consented to or have withdrawn consent to or has occurred in circumstances where a person is unable to give their consent. This can include a range of sexual behaviours from unwanted sexualised touching to sexual intercourse without consent, which is rape. Adults and children can be subjected to grooming, which is a process used by offenders to establish a relationship of trust with a person for the purpose of sexual exploitation, sexual coercion or sexual assault.

Sexual exploitation refers to any kind of sexual contact or invitation to sexual contact with an adult with whom there is a pastoral or supervisory relationship, whether there is consent or not.
All Adelaide Anglican Leaders and Church Workers, both paid and volunteer, are required to uphold our Code of Conduct, Faithfulness in Service.