What is stealthing?

Stealthing is a form of sexual assault that has only recently been criminalised in Australia. 

‘Stealthing’ refers to the removal of a condom by a person during sex, without the other person’s knowledge or consent. For instance, you may have consented to sex with a condom. If your partner removes the condom during sex without your consent, this is stealthing. 

Tampering with a condom, such as poking a hole in it or damaging the condom also falls under the offence of stealthing. It might also look like someone saying they will use a condom to get your consent but then not actually using a condom during sex.

Is stealthing a crime? 

Yes. Stealthing is currently a crime in South Australia, Tasmania, NSW, Victoria and the ACT. Research shows that stealthing is a common experience for women who have sex with men, and men who have sex with men. 

Lots of people don’t know that stealthing is rape. It might not always seem like a big deal, but this is because it is so normalised for women to go along with what their male partner wants during sex. What you want matters, and it’s your right to say no to sexual acts of any kind. 

Remember: consent to sex with a condom does not mean that you automatically consent to sex without one. Even when you are in an intimate relationship, removal of a condom without consent is sexual assault.

Check out this video to learn more about stealthing and the law in Australia:

What are the risks associated with stealthing?

Sex without a condom can carry with it a number of nasty risks and consequences, such as the spreading of STIs or pregnancy. But it also has impacts on the mental state of the other person. If your partner has agreed to have sex but only with a condom, having sex without a condom without their permission will likely make them feel betrayed, and like a personal boundary has been crossed as they’ve lost control over what happens to their body.

Even if you are in a relationship with the other person you have the right to say no to sex without a condom. 

How can I prevent stealthing?

If you are the one wearing a condom, always:

  • Assume that your partner wants you to wear a condom during sex
  • Talk about contraception before having sex: ask your partner if they want you to wear a condom. 
  • Ask your partner for permission before removing the condom. No consent = sexual assault.
  • Check in with your partner: if they initially agreed to sex without a condom but change their mind half way through, then you will need to stop and put on a condom.

If you would like your partner to wear a condom during sex, you could say:

  • “I want you to wear a condom”
  • “I don’t want to have unprotected sex” 
  • “I’m worried about getting an STI”
  • “I don’t want to risk getting pregnant”

Anyone who refuses to wear a condom when you ask them to isn’t being respectful of you or your body. If they remove the condom without your knowledge, this is sexual assault and illegal.

Why do people ‘stealth’?

Stealthing is a form of sexual assault which means that the person committing the assault is usually doing so as a way of gaining power or control over the other person, or as a way of making the other person feel bad, or just because it feels better for them. In short: they’re thinking about themselves and what they want, and not considering the rights of others.

Some reasons why people stealth are: 

  • They feel entitled to sex without a condom
  • They are putting their own needs ahead of yours 
  • They might think it feels better
  • They might say that it’s ‘sexier’ or ‘more romantic’ 

None of these things make it okay for someone to remove a condom or not wear a condom without your consent. 

Where to get help

If you, or someone you know, need help, the following services are available:

If you, or someone you know, need legal support, the following services are available:

If you are feeling unsafe or frightened, or if threats have been made against you, you should contact your local police for assistance and if you are in immediate danger, dial Triple Zero (000).

To report a crime or to contact police in a non-urgent situation, contact your local police on 131 444. Some states and territories offer online and alternative methods of reporting. If you want to report a crime anonymously, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.CrimeStoppers.com.au.

The Translating and Interpreting Service is available for callers who need translating or interpreting support. To access the service call 13 14 50 and provide them with the name and phone number of the support service you would like to speak with.

For more information on local support services available for people experiencing sexual violence, please visit:

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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