About Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence
Anyone can be a victim of physical or sexual assault. If you have been assaulted, go to a safe place and tell someone. You have the option to go to a hospital for care and treatment. You have the option to call police, as you are a victim of a crime.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is any form of unwanted sexual activity without that person’s consent. This can include forced sexual intercourse (rape), sexual abuse, childhood sexual abuse, incest, sexual harassment and any unwanted sexual activity including kissing, fondling, touching, oral sex or threatening to do any of these things.
Consent is a voluntary agreement between two adults to engage in a sexual activity. Someone who is under the influence of medication, drugs or alcohol is not in the position to give consent. Both women and men can be sexually assaulted. It is a serious crime whether committed by a stranger, friend, family member or partner.
Sexual assault is a common occurrence. Conservative statistics document that 1 in 2 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually assaulted at some time in their lives. Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. Many victims are assaulted in their own homes by their partners, family members, friends and/or acquaintances. Sexual assault can happen between people of the same or opposite sex. No one ever asks to be raped. Age, appearance, social standing and marital status are not barriers to being assaulted. How a person is dressed, where a person goes, what a person does, etc. are not reasons to be sexually assaulted. Victims are never to blame.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence, also referred to as "intimate partner” abuse, is a crime in Canada. The purpose of this abuse is control over one’s partner. Domestic violence is primarily committed by men against women but also occurs in same sex relationships and by women against men. Abuse is not always physical. Control can include other forms of abuse such as constant threats, psychological, emotional, sexual, financial, material, spiritual and verbal abuse. It can also include sexual assault, in which case the victim has the same options as any other person who has been sexually assaulted. Domestic violence results from an imbalance of power and control in a relationship. Domestic violence happens at all income and educational levels, in all social classes, religions, racial and cultural groups.
An intimate relationship is defined as a relationship between opposite-sex or same-sex partners. These relationships vary in duration and legal formality, and include; current and former dating relationships, current and former common-law relationships, current and former married relationships, and persons who are the parents of one or more children, regardless of their marital status or whether they have lived together at any time.
The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.
What is consent?
The Criminal Code of Canada recognizes that individuals cannot always speak up and say no. She or he may be disabled, intoxicated, intimidated or coerced into agreeing to sexual activity. If the assailant used force, threats, or lied about their actions, the courts can decide that consent was not freely given.
Under Canadian law, consent is defined as the voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. The law also lays out circumstances in which no consent has been obtained including:
- When agreement is expressed by someone other than the victim
- The victim is incapable of consenting due to unconsciousness or mental incapacity
- Consent was obtained by abusing a position of trust, power or authority, or by using threats or force
- The victim expresses lack of consent by words, resistance or silence
- The victim consented but changed their mind
What is child sexual abuse?
Child sexual abuse is the improper exposure of a child to sexual contact, activity, or behaviour. This includes all forms of sexual contact, forced oral contact ("kissing"), groping, grabbing, vaginal or anal penetration, and oral genital contact ("oral sex") as well as exposure to pornography and exhibitionism. Child sexual abuse also includes asking the child to sexually touch another person, even if contact does not occur.
Child sexual abuse occurs when someone older, or someone in a position of trust, uses their authority over a child to engage that child in sexual contact. The offender may use tricks, bribes, threats, or physical force to make the child participate in sexual activity.
The age of consent in Canada is 16. This means that no child or youth under the age of 16 can consent to sexual activity with an adult. In addition, no child under the age of 12 can consent to any type of sexual activity, and no youth under the age of 18 can consent to sexual activity with someone who is in a position of power, trust, or authority over them. This includes parents and guardians, as well as teachers, coaches, babysitters, doctors, religious leaders, etc.
What do I do if I have been sexually or physically assaulted?
Go to the nearest emergency department right away, even if you don’t think you have been hurt. A doctor may find evidence of more serious injuries. You might also want to talk to a counsellor to help you deal with the emotional effects.
Emergency health care may include, physical assessment and examination, documentation of injuries, collection of forensic evidence, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV prophylaxis, testing for pregnancy and emergency contraception, supportive crisis counselling, community referral, follow-up services including re-documentation of injuries, medical care and emotional support.
Clients have the right to choose treatment options and, at all times, the right to consent or decline any option.
What is drug-facilitated sexual assault?
Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA) is any form of sexual assault, (unwanted kissing, touching, rape, etc.), that is committed upon a person rendered incapacitated or helpless by alcohol or drugs, thus being incapable of giving or withholding consent.
Anyone can be a victim of DFSA regardless of age, sexual orientation or gender, though females ages 16 to 24 are the highest at risk. A person does not necessarily have to be drugged by a "Date Rape” drug to become a victim of DFSA. In fact, the most common drug involved is alcohol, seconded by marijuana. The perpetrator is not necessarily the one who administers the drug. The victim often voluntarily takes the drug or alcohol, but is assaulted upon becoming incapacitated.
Approximately 75% of sexual assaults are committed by people known to the victim. Most sexual assault cases are never reported to Police. Victims may be embarrassed, have a perceived sense of guilt, or because they cannot remember what specifically happened. The ONLY person responsible for a sexual assault is the person who commits it. Being intoxicated by alcohol or drugs is NEVER an invitation for sex.