Issue 5, June 2001

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Hi everybody thanks again for your ongoing support and interest in Backoff. Judging by the response that we get after each issue goes out it seems the newsletter is being really well received by the thousands of young women who have subscribed. We are currently getting over 1000 subscriptions each month. Thanks also to all of you who have read my book, and especially to those who have emailed off to me and said how much they enjoyed it.

As you read through this we find ourselves already half way through the year and before long another year will have come and gone. Just make sure that you are staying focused on the things that are important to you and making the time to do the things you need to do to achieve the goals you have set yourself. It can become too easy to just let time pass by and find yourself looking back over your shoulder and wondering why you haven’t really achieved the things that you wanted to, so this is a good time to get focused on the next six months of the year.

The next couple of weeks is a very exciting time for my family as we await the arrival of our second child who is due to 'make an entry’ sometime around the 18th June, I’ll let you know all the important bits in next months issue!

The feature article today is one that I feel very strongly about, that is providing information to young women on the legal issues relating to sexual crime. For those of you who have attended my seminars I hope that this information reinforces some of the knowledge we shared at that time. Remember if you have any further questions or queries just drop me a line via the link in the Q & A section of the newsletter. Well guys I’ll sign off about now, thanks again for staying onboard, welcome to all those recently subscribed folk and I trust you enjoy what we have put together for you.

Take care, your friend

‘Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and repeat to yourself the most comforting words of all“This, too, shall pass.”’


(Note: the legal terms and conditions quoted in this article refer to the NSW Crimes Act. There are minor variations found in the Crimes Acts of other states and Commonwealth countries.)

Most of us are familiar with terms such as ‘date rape’ and ‘stranger rape’ but many would have difficulty in actually defining what these terms mean legally and what constitutes an offence under the law. I trust that the following information can fill in some of the gaps and identify very clearly the legal issues relating to sexual crime.

Date Rape
The term ‘date rape’ is not a legal term but was in fact ‘invented’ by a journalist back in 1982. The term was used to describe a sexual offence committed by an offender known to the victim or in fact in some type of relationship with the victim. The term ‘stranger rape’ refers, of course, to an offence committed by a stranger. Although these two terms describe what appear to be ‘different’ crimes, from a legal standpoint there is no difference between date rape and stranger rape the only difference is the ‘relationship’ between the offender and the victim. So if a stranger commits a sexual offence he would be charged with the same crime as the ‘date’ or offender known to the victim.

The other point worthy of mention at this time is that an offender doesn’t actually have to ‘rape’ somebody to have committed a sexual offence, in fact any form of unwanted sexual activity is an offence. So I often ask those in my seminars to define the term ‘date rape’ as- ‘any form of sexual activity without consent’, not just the act of rape.

What is the definition of rape?
The term ‘rape’ no longer appears in the Crimes Act. That’s not to say that the crime of rape is no longer an offence, of course it is, however it is no longer referred to as ‘rape’ in the legal system. The term ‘rape’ has been replaced by the term ‘sexual assault’. So if an offender goes out and rapes a person they would now be charged with ‘sexual assault’.

The definition of sexual assault is basically; ‘Sexual intercourse without consent’ the penalty for being found guilty of sexual assault is a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.

What is the definition of intercourse?
The legal definition of intercourse is far broader than most would think. The Crimes Act basically defines intercourse as being; Penetration to a sexual area with any part of the offender’s body or anything held or manipulated by the offender. Forced oral sex is also defined as intercourse.

What this means in layman’s’ terms is that any form of penetration to a sexual area is sexual assault (rape), if that penetration is without the consent of the person being penetrated. It does not matter legally what you are penetrated with, so a guy who penetrates a girl sexually with his fingers, without her consent, is committing the same crime as the guy who uses his penis to penetrate.

Also, if a person is forced into performing oral sex, this is defined as ‘intercourse’ under Australian law and carries an imprisonment term of up to 14 years.

What is the definition of consent?
Many people I have spoken to on this subject mistakenly believe that consent means when a person says ‘yes’ or in fact when a person stops saying ‘no’. This is certainly not the case, and if it were, I doubt whether there would be one sex offender in prison. All they would have to do to avoid committing an offence would be to make the victim say ‘yes’ or force her to stop saying no, then whatever followed would be with her ‘consent’.

Consent is defined under Australian law as:

‘Giving your permission freely, without the presence of threats, force, violence or manipulation’.

Quite clearly we can see that ‘consent’ can only be given freely by the person giving it. If a person is made to say yes, or to stop saying no, this is not consent but submission.

The law also states that a person can only consent to a sexual act if they are in a, ‘sober and rational state of mind’, which means it is unlawful to have sexual contact with a person who is affected by drugs or alcohol to the point where they are unable to consent.

The whole issue of ‘date rape’ drugs is one that I will cover in a later issue, suffice to say that drugging a person and then having sexual contact with them is an offence.

What if the unwanted sexual contact doesn’t involve intercourse?
As I mentioned earlier, ‘date rape’ refers to any form of unwanted sexual contact, not just intercourse without consent. There is an offence in the Crimes Act called ‘Indecent Assault’ that basically covers unwanted sexual contact that does not involve intercourse. A classic example of this type of offence would be where a guy gives a woman a lift home and then refuses to let her out of the car until he has some sort of sexual contact with her. If the guy was to prevent the woman from leaving (assault) and then either touched her sexually or force her into touching him sexually (acts of indecency) he has committed ‘Indecent Assault’. Note that the sexual touching in this example does not involve intercourse. Indecent Assault carries a maximum imprisonment term of 5 years.

Is there any time limit to reporting a sexual offence?
No. You can report a sexual offence any time after it occurs, of course the earlier an offence is reported the easier it is to investigate, however, there is no legal time limit to when you can report the offence to the police.

I trust that this article has either broadened or re-enforced your knowledge of sexual crime and the law that relates to it. In a nutshell any form of unwanted sexual contact is an offence. If the contact involves intercourse it is 'Sexual Assault’, if it does not get to the point of intercourse it is ‘Indecent Assault’. ‘Intercourse’ means penetration to a sexual area with anything at all and includes forced oral sex. ‘Consent’ means giving your permission freely without the presence of threats, force, or violence. And finally there is no time limit to reporting sexual offences in Australia.

If you have any further questions relating to this subject please feel free to contact me via the email link located in the Q & A section of the newsletter. Remember, as always, this subject is covered in more detail in my book, ‘How dangerous men think’.

A BIG HAND FOR......Dr. Wendy Vincent

Hello ,

I thought for this issue of ‘Back off’ we would address one of the major health concerns that women of today have – breast cancer.

In Australia a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is approximately 1 in 13. Only 1 in 43 of those women, however, actually die of breast cancer as opposed to the leading cause of women’s death in our society – cardiovascular disease. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 2 Australian women die of cardiovascular disease, for example heart disease and stroke.

The early diagnosis of breast cancer is believed to be a major contributing factor to the reduction in the death of women from the disease. So it follows that we need to know what our individual risk factors are and what lifestyle activities we can perform to lower our individual risk.

Let us first look at these lifestyle factors – diet, alcohol consumption and exercise seem to be the three most important lifestyle factors. A diet high in fibre, such as fruit and vegetables and low in animal fats is the best diet. At least four forms of regular exercise per week, e.g. walking, appear to reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer. As far as alcohol is concerned a woman who drinks 2 standard drinks per day, i.e. 2 glasses of wine, is believed to increase her risk of breast cancer by 40-70%

So maybe it’s time for all of us to look at our lifestyles and ask are we giving ourselves the best chance against developing breast cancer? In the next issue of ‘Back off’ I will look at how to perform breast self-examination and its’ role in detecting breast cancer. Until then take care and stay safe.

Dr. Wendy

FIB- The most common form of rape is stranger rape.
FACT Most rapists’ are known to the women they rape. Most major studies indicate that if a young woman in Australia is raped between the age of 15 – 25 that 90% of the time the offender will be a person she knows. Even if you remove this age barrier, approximately 80% of sex offenders in prison were known to their victims.


Q. Is it common for stranger rapists to revisit a victim more than once?

A. In my experience this is extremely unlikely, in fact in all the studies I have done I can only recall one offender, (Joseph Thompson the South Auckland rapist), who has revisited any of his victims. In the case of Thompson he revisited three of his victims a second time, however this pattern is not a common one amongst stranger rapists.

Q. Can a person under the age of 16 legally consent to having sexual contact with a person over the age of 16?

A. No. There is no such thing as legal consent for a person under the age of 16. In fact the person over 16 in this example is committing an offence if he/she has sexual contact with a minor (person under 16) even if the minor does not object to the act. This law is in place to protect children from being sexually exploited by adults, but the law still applies to sexual contact between teenagers and/or young adults when one of the parties is under 16.

Q. What if both the guy and the girl were under 16, say they are both 15, and they have sexual contact that both of them agree to?

A. Technically both of them are committing an offence as they are both having sexual contact with a minor, however, due to the fact that they are both below the age of consent and agreement has been given by both parties, it is unlikely in the extreme that this case would attract any police involvement. Having said this in a case of this nature there may well be some form of intervention from an organisation such as the Department of Community Services.

In a major study recently conducted on date rape it was found that 2/3rds of reported date rapes had been committed by a guy that the victim not only knew, but also had known for some time. Only 1/3rd of offences were committed by a guy the girl had met that evening for the first time.

The average imprisonment term for a rapist found guilty of sexual assault in NSW is approximately 7 years.

Sexual crime is amongst the lowest falsely reported crime handled by the police. Contrary to popular misconception, along with recent inaccurate comments from a high profile magistrate, it is extremely rare for women to falsely report a sexual offence. In fact a major issue with regard to sexual crime in Australia is the fact the over 90% of these offences are never reported to the police.

Just a thought
I often draw inspiration from those who have achieved success beyond the expectation of all those around them, whether this is in the area of sport, business of just everyday life. The following is a classic example of success against all odds from the sporting field, the real message comes in the quote given by the champion when asked to explain his success.

In 1974 the great Muhammad Ali flew to Kinshasa Stadium in Zaire for a heavyweight title fight against George Foreman. The fight was labelled ‘The rumble in the jungle’ and is remembered as one of the greatest fights of all time.

Ali was fighting to win back his heavyweight title taken from him by the US government back in 1967 for his refusal to fight in the Vietnam war, the title in ‘74 was held by the massive and frightening George Foreman. Foreman was amongst the fiercest fighters of all time who had destroyed all those who had confronted him. That night in Zaire most believed that not only would Ali be savagely beaten, but also many believed Foreman would quite literally kill him in the ring.

Not only did Ali go on to knock Foreman out half way through the 8th round, but he spent the previous 7 rounds leaning back on the ropes of the ring allowing Foreman to repeatedly punch him around the head, face and body. Foreman eventually became exhausted, Ali somehow survived the hundreds of punches to deliver a knockout punch and reclaim his beloved heavyweight title against all odds in unbelievable circumstances.

Ali was later asked not only how he beat Foreman, but how he was able to beat him having sustained such punishment, his reply is one of the greatest sporting quotes of all time, and one that we could all do well to live by:

“I won because I have always believed that the only limitations I have are those that I place upon myself.”

Note: The Academy Award winning movie, ‘When we were kings’, was made about this fight and the lead up to it, it is available at all leading video stores.

Here are a couple more points to be aware of in those potentially nasty social situations:

“In my experience there are usually two key factors behind guys getting girls into those, all too common, uncomfortable situations – alcohol and isolation. Always be cautious when consuming alcohol and getting with a guy who is really keen to get you away from your friends.”

“Remember the ‘mindset of justification’ that guys get into when they justify to themselves that they are entitled to get some sort of ‘payback’ for the work or effort they have put in over the course of the evening. It is this mindset that often leads to them becoming aggressive.”

“It’s not a bad idea to tuck $20 away in your bag at the start of the evening so you can avoid having to rely on getting a lift home from a guy that you may not be too sure about.”

Dear Brent,
Thank you for sending me a copy of your newsletter. I go to a high school in Sydney and am in year 10. I was at the seminar you gave us this year and it was well worth it. A few days ago a friend of mine, who was also in the seminar, was with me in Chatswood when we were followed by a group of four older teenage guys. We were followed until they thought there weren’t many people around and we were slightly out of sight. They then came up to us and tried to crack on to us but we wouldn’t give them the time of day. They started to get really pissed off and were telling us to get into their car and that one of their friends wanted to have sex with us. We went skitz and started yelling at them, which got the attention of all the people in a nearby café who looked over to see what was happening. The guys freaked out, turned around threw their drinks at us and bolted. I got saturated but that way better than being dragged into a car and being raped!

I just wanted to write to say thank you for the seminar that you gave us and how useful the information was. I hope you will come back so that my sister can have the same experience as I think she would benefit greatly.

Thank you, J. G, Mosman

Dear Brent,

I just wanted to write to you to say thank you very much for the work you do in the schools around NSW. Sometime ago I attended your full-day seminar and later discovered that the knowledge you gave me was more constructive than I ever realised at the time.

Recently I experienced a situation that was so awful I don’t even feel that I can write about it, but I wanted to let you know that what you had taught me enabled me to get out of it and get to safety. Had I not known what to do I am frightened to think of what could have happened.

Thank you. L. W, Lane Cove



‘When there is a hill to climb, don’t think that waiting will make it smaller.’- Unknown

‘Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.’ – Unknown

‘Never resist a temporary inconvenience if it results in a permanent improvement.’ - Unknown

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