Lesbians and gay men may not report violence to the police or other organisations for many reasons including not wanting to 'out' themselves, fear of homophobic responses from police officers or their report not being taken seriously. This information aims to address some of these issues.
What is an assault?
An assault is when a person strikes, touches, moves, or applies force to you (directly or indirectly) without your consent. This includes hitting and spitting.
Assault can also include threats to harm you made in circumstances that cause you to fear for your safety.
You can report an assault to the police.
What should I consider before reporting an assault to the police?
- There is no time limit for making a report to the police about an assault, however, the sooner you report it, the easier it is for the police to charge the person.
- Disclosing personal information
When you make a report to the police and the police charge the person two things might happen.
- If the person admits the assault ("pleads guilty") then the person will be convicted and given a penalty.
- If the person does not admit the assault ("pleads not guilty") then the matter will go to trial. It is likely that the police will need you to give detailed evidence in court about the assault. You may have to answer questions about your personal life, if this is relevant to the assault.
Be aware that courtrooms are generally open to the public and the media. This may mean parts of your private life, including your sexuality, could become public. However, the courts are very busy and many cases go unnoticed.
You cannot withdraw charges.
The police decide whether to charge or not. Once you have made a complaint and a person has been charged, you cannot "withdraw the charges". Only the police can decide not to continue. It is important that you bear this in mind if you have any doubts about making a complaint. Be sure that you intend to follow it through when you decide to make a complaint.
What information do I need to make a report to the police?
- Facts and circumstances of the assault
When you report an assault to the police you will be required to make a statement. The statement should include all the relevant facts and circumstances involved in the "commission of the offence".
- Your name and contact details
You will need to provide your name and contact details so that the police can contact you.
- Names of any witnesses and any evidence
The fact that you don't have any witnesses shouldn't stop you from making a complaint to the police. Many assaults occur between two people when there is no one else around.
- Keep medical records, photographs of any injuries you have sustained as a result of the assault.
Where can I report an assault?
You can report an assault to your local police station or a police station near to where the assault happened. Reporting an assault will involve describing to the police in as much detail as possible:
- when and where the assault took place and
- naming or describing the offender
You should think about taking someone along with you to support you as this can be a difficult thing to do.
Is any other legal protection available?
If you are afraid that the assaults/threatening behaviour may continue you should consider getting a restraining order.
A restraining order is an order from a court which protects you from threatening behaviour. A restraining order can stop a person acting in an offensive way and can include orders which prevent a person from coming within a certain distance of you, from communicating with you and any other order that is necessary to protect you.
For more information on restraining orders go to Violence- family, domestic and other.
What if the police don't help me, don't take me seriously or are homophobic?
If you have any problems with how the police have handled your complaint or any other matter, you can firstly contact your local Diversity Officer for assistance by calling the police on 131 444.
Contact the Community Diversity Unit within the West Australian Police Force on (08) 9222 1510 or (08) 9222 1576 if you do not wish to make a formal complaint but just feel like talking through an issue. It is located on 3rd Floor WA Police Headquarters 2 Adelaide Terrace Perth.
For more information about the Community Diversity Unit, see the People of Diverse Sexuality and/or Gender section of the WA Police website.
See Complaints about the police for more information about making a complaint.
If your complaint is about police administration, if you don't get a satisfactory response, you can then complain to the Ombudsman WA. The Ombudsman no longer investigates complaints about police conduct but does investigate complaints about police administration, that is, the decision making practices and actions of the police.
Can I apply for compensation if I have been injured?
If you have suffered physical or mental injury or loss as a result of a criminal offence, you may be entitled to compensation. There are time limits within which you have to lodge your claim.
See Compensation for victims of crime for more information.
Where can I get more information?
- Contact Legal Aid WA's InfoLine on 1300 650 579
- If you have experienced sexual assault, contact Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) on (08) 9340 1828
free call 1800 199 888 or see the brochure Information about Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse
- Contact the Gay and Lesbian Community Services telephone counselling and information line (GLCS) (08) 9420 7201 or 1800 184 527
- If your inquiry relates to assaults/threats by a partner/family member or domestic violence, see Violence- family, domestic and other for more information or contact Same Sex Domestic Abuse Group on 0414 585 575 or
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
- For urgent assistance contact:
- Crisis Care Unit on (08) 9223 1111 or freecall 1800 199 008 operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Women's Domestic Violence Helpline on (08) 9223 1188 or freecall 1800 007 339
- Men's Domestic Violence Helpline on (08) 9223 1199 or freecall 1800 000 599
- For counselling services contact:
- For legal advice for women who are experiencing domestic violence contact Legal Aid WA's Domestic Violence Legal Unit on (08) 9261 6254
- Contact the Ombudsman Western Australia on (08) 9220 7555 or 1800 117 000 (toll free for country callers)
Last reviewed: 28/12/2011