Not everyone will experience sexual assault the same way. It will effect you in a way that is as unique as you are. How you respond is a very personal decision. What works for some may not work for others. Some victims will seek and get justice while many others looking for it will end up feeling abandoned and devastated. Most will say nothing at all.
Your path to healing is your path to walk. There are many organizations and people who are there to help and support you. If you need to – reach out for help.
If you are a survivors loved one, or just a friend who cares, what you do and say is vitally important. Words can heal and words can hurt so always keep in mind what you say. Give the statistics around sexual assault and abuse someone in your life has been affected. If they haven’t opened up to you ask yourself if you’ve created an environment for them to feel safe enough to do so.
Support has many forms but one thing should rule how you help – ask first. What can you do, what do they need, and what do they want of you? Don’t try to control how someone else chooses to heal. And be honest – if you have no idea what to do or say than say so.
The Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax has put together some helpful information if you want to help someone who has been assaulted. If you are a loved one you need help too. Remember that. Reach out.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, gender, class, status, sexual orientation, ability, religion, or physical appearance. You can be sexually assaulted on a date, in your home, at work or on the street. You can be assaulted by a partner, trusted friend, close relative, or a complete stranger. There’s no such thing as a “typical” sexual assault.
Myths and Facts of Sexual Assault, Canada
Sexual assault and child sexual abuse are highly misunderstood crimes. Understanding the common misconceptions that are prevalent in our society along with the facts helps you better understand sexual assault and educate others:
MYTH: Most victims of sexual assault can prevent the assault from taking place by resisting.
FACT: Assailants commonly overpower victims through threats and intimidation tactics. Moreover, many victims lack the capacity to appreciate or understand they are being assaulted.
MYTH: Most Sexual Assaults are done by strangers
FACT: Statistics clearly show the vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone close to the victim
MYTH: Victims can easily “get over” the effects of sexual assault or child sexual abuse
FACT: The effects of sexual assault are far reaching and can severely impact an individual’s emotional stability, employment, and ability to form and maintain adult relationships.
MYTH: Most sexual assaults are not planned in advance.
FACT: As many as 3/4ths of all sexual assaults involved some pre-planning by the asailant
MYTH: Sexual assault is a commonly false-reported crime
FACT: Most statistics show approximately 2% or less of sexual assaults reported as false reports
MYTH: Victims commonly dress in a way that increases their chances of being sexual assaulted
FACT: This appears to be uncommon as most assailants cannot remember what the victim was wearing
MYTH: If a drunk girl consents to a sexual act, this consent is valid
FACT: It depends on how “drunk” the individual is and whether they are capable of understanding what they are consenting to
MYTH: Most victims are young, attractive females
FACT: The elderly are commonly victims of sexual abuse.
MYTH: Men are never sexual assaulted.
FACT: Sexual assault is more common for men than most believe, and boys are common victims of child sexual abuse
MYTH: Sexual assault is a relatively rare form of abuse
FACT: As many as 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. This makes sexual assault one of the most common serious crimes.
MYTH: Most assailants have a history of mental or sexual problems
FACT: Many assailants appear to live highly normal/functioning lives
MYTH: Assailants are typically poor, uneducated, of a certain race
FACT: There is no data indicating a typical profile of an assailant. Many assailants are otherwise upstanding citizens.
MYTH: It is not sexual assault if the assailant and the victim are married
FACT: Any sexual acts that are not truly consented to constitute sexual assault regardless of the relationship between the victim and the assailant.
MYTH: The victim must show physical injuries for it to legally be considered a sexual assault.
FACT: The presence or absence of physical injuries is irrelevant to the determination of whether an act is “legally” considered a sexual assault; however, physical injuries may be grounds for a heightened punishment or a finding of aggravated sexual assault.
WHAT IS CONSENT?
- Consent is voluntary, mutual, and can be withdrawn at any time.
- Past consent does not mean current or future consent.
- There is no consent when there is force, intimidation, or coercion.
- There is no consent if a person is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired because one cannot understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual situation.
There is no such thing as non-consensual sex. An absence of consent is called rape.
Criminal Code of Canada – A Definition of Consent to Sexual Activity
Section 273.1 provides a definition of consent for the purposes of the sexual assault offences and for greater certainty, sets out specific situations that do not constitute consent at law.
Subsection 273.1(1) defines consent as the voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question. Conduct short of a voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity does not constitute consent as a matter of law.
For greater certainty, subsection 273.1(2) sets out specific situations where there is no consent in law; no consent is obtained:
- where the agreement is expressed by the words or conduct of a person other than the complainant
- where the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity
- where the accused induces the complainant to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power or authority
- where the complainant expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity, or
- where the complainant, having consented to engage in sexual activity, expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity.
[fusion_builder_container background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”” padding_right=”” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”2_3″ last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_title size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”single solid” sep_color=”#000000″ margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]What is the Rape Culture?[/fusion_title][fusion_text]Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.
Rape Culture affects every woman. The rape of one woman is a degradation, terror, and limitation to all women. Most women and girls limit their behavior because of the existence of rape. Most women and girls live in fear of rape. Men, in general, do not. That’s how rape functions as a powerful means by which the whole female population is held in a subordinate position to the whole male population, even though many men don’t rape, and many women are never victims of rape. This cycle of fear is the legacy of Rape Culture.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_3″ last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_title size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”single solid” sep_color=”#dd3333″ margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]Examples of Rape Culture[/fusion_title][fusion_text]
- Blaming the victim (“She asked for it!”)
- Trivializing sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
- Sexually explicit jokes
- Tolerance of sexual harassment
- Inflating false rape report statistics
- Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history
- Gratuitous gendered violence in movies and television
- Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive
- Defining “womanhood” as submissive and sexually passive
- Pressure on men to “score”
- Pressure on women to not appear “cold”
- Assuming only promiscuous women get raped
- Assuming that men don’t get raped or that only “weak” men get raped
- Refusing to take rape accusations seriously
- Teaching women to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape
If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual assault of any kind, please contact any of these local rape crisis and support centres.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]