- What is sexual assault?
- A criminal offense under the Criminal Code of Canada. Sexual assault is any type of unwanted sexual act done by one person to another that violates the sexual integrity of the survivor and involves a range of behaviours from any unwanted touching to penetration. Sexual assault is characterized by a broad range of behaviours that involve the use of force, threats, or control towards a person which makes that person feel uncomfortable, distressed, frightened, threatened, or that is carried out in circumstances in which the person has not freely agreed or consented to, or to which the person is incapable of consenting.
- What is consent?
- The voluntary and explicit agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question. It is the act of willingly agreeing to engage in specific sexual behaviour, and requires that a person is able to freely choose between two options: yes and no. This means that there must be an understandable exchange of affirmative words which indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. It is also imperative that everyone understands the following:
- silence or non-communication must never be interpreted as consent and a person in a state of diminished judgement cannot consent;
- a person is incapable of giving consent if they are asleep, unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate;
- a person who has been threatened or coerced (e.g. is not agreeing voluntarily) into engaging in the sexual activity is not consenting to it;
- a person who is drugged is unable to consent;
- a person is usually unable to give consent when under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs;
- if a person has a mental disability that prevents them from fully understanding the sexual acts, they may be unable to give consent;
- the fact that consent was given in the past to a sexual or dating relationship does not mean that consent is deemed to exist for all future sexual activity;
- a person can withdraw consent at any time during the course of a sexual encounter;
- a person is incapable of giving consent to a person in a position of trust, power or authority, such as a faculty member initiating a relationship with a student who they teach or an administrator in a relationship with anyone who reports to that position;
- consent cannot be given on behalf of another person.
It is the responsibility of the initiator of sexual activity to ensure clear and affirmative responses are communicated at all stages of sexual engagement. It is also the initiator’s responsibility to know if the person with whom they are sexually engaging is a minor.
- What is a sexual assault evidence kit?
A Sexual Assault Evidence Kit is the collection of evidence from your body and clothing worn during or immediately after a sexual assault. This evidence can only be collected if the assault happened within the last 10 days.
It is recommended that evidence be collected as soon as possible after a sexual assault. If you’re able, try to avoid activities that may potentially damage evidence such as:
- Using the restroom
- Changing clothes
- Cleaning up the area
It’s natural to want to go through these motions after a traumatic experience. If you have done any of these activities, you can still have an exam performed. You may want to bring a spare change of clothes with you to the hospital.
- If I make a report to the College, will the police be called?
- The College understands that individuals who have experienced sexual violence may wish to control whether and how their experience will be dealt with by the police and/or the College. In most circumstances, the person will retain this control. A person who has experienced sexual violence may choose not to request an investigation and has the right not to participate in any investigation that may occur. In certain circumstances however, the College may be required to initiate an internal investigation and/or inform the police of the need for a criminal investigation, even without the person’s consent, if the College believes that the safety of other members of the College community is at risk. The confidentiality and anonymity of the person(s) affected will be prioritized in these circumstances.
- What is Rape Culture?
- A culture in which dominant ideas, social practices, media images and societal institutions implicitly or explicitly condone sexual assault by normalizing or trivializing male sexual violence and by blaming survivors for their own abuse. Sexual Violence is often thought about as an individual act of aggression, but in reality it is a complex social issue. The widespread occurrence of sexual violence continues not just as a result of individual attitudes and actions, but through dominant ideologies and larger social structures as well. It is everyone’s responsibility to challenge the ideas, behaviours and structures that contribute to sexual violence.
- Why do some survivors not report an incident to the police?
The vast majority of survivors do not formally report to authorities and many do not even disclose to someone they trust because of some or all of the following reasons:
- Lack of clarity about the types of behaviour that constitute sexual violence. Survivors may feel that something has taken place that is “not right” but they may not understand that they have been sexually assaulted. This can be particularly true when the perpetrator is a friend, a partner or an acquaintance.
- Need more time to process what happened, concerns about being believed or blamed, feeling ashamed or guilty for what happened.
- Fear of institutional sanctions or a police investigation where underage drinking or the use of illegal drugs was involved.
- Fear of reprisal by the perpetrator or the perpetrator’s friends.
- Apprehension about the possible physical examinations and questions they may face.
- Anxious about losing control of what happens to them.
- They believe that nothing will happen to the perpetrator.
- Anticipate facing stereotypes and discrimination after previous experiences of racism, ableism, homophobia or transphobia.
- Worry that personal information they wish to keep private, such as sexual orientation, will be revealed if they report or disclose.
- Male victims may not be aware of appropriate supports or may be reluctant to access them.
- Lack of access to, or awareness of, available services, especially those that are culturally sensitive.