Anonymous sexual abuse survivors

Wednesday 31 October 2018
Kirsty Osborne

Often sexual abuse survivors are nervous about bringing Court proceedings because of the potential to be identified.  

The Victorian Courts and legislature have recognised that this is a common experience for survivors of sexual assault and have responded accordingly, allowing the opportunity to bring Court proceedings anonymously.

Under the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act 1958, the names of sexual assault survivors cannot be published by the media without the express permission of the survivor or a Court. However, the survivor’s name will still be published on publicly available Court documents.

In circumstances where a survivor does not want to be identified in any circumstances, we can assist them to bring a pseudonym application. If our application is successful, the Court will allow the survivor to bring proceedings under a different name or alias, for example “AA”.

When deciding whether to grant a pseudonym application, a Court will consider all the relevant factors, including:

  • whether there is likely to be media interest;
  • whether the publication of the survivor’s name is likely to have a negative impact on the survivor, including their psychological health, ability to recover from the abuse, personal relationships, career or standing in their community;
  • whether the publication of the survivor’s name would deter the survivor from bringing Court proceedings and pursuing their legal rights;
  • whether the likely impact on the survivor outweighs the need to ensure that Courts are open and accessible to the public.

Due to the above, Courts often find that a pseudonym is necessary in sexual assault proceedings.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse and would like to speak to a member of our caring and compassionate team, call (03) 9321 9988 for a confidential discussion.

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