Sexual assault is defined as any kind of sexual contact without mutual consent—and it’s against the law. It can include unwanted kissing, fondling, oral or anal sex, intercourse or other forms of penetration, or any other unwanted act of a sexual nature. Regardless of the relationship between the two people, pressuring or any use of force is considered sexual assault. You cannot give consent if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Anything other than an explicitly stated “yes” means “no”!
Sexual assault can happen to anyone at any time. Females and males are sexually assaulted by people of the same or opposite gender; however, the majority of offences are committed by men against women (Statistics Canada, 2001).
Most assaults are committed by people known to the person: friends, dates, partners (including spouses), parents, doctors, caregivers, employers, teachers, and attendants. Unfortunately, many people who are assaulted by someone they know deny themselves the support they need or blame themselves for what happened, even though it was not their fault.
Sexual Assault is any unwanted act of a sexual nature imposed by one person on another (ie: kissing, touching, fondling, oral or anal sex, intercourse, or other forms of penetration). Sexual assault is an act of power and dominance. The person who is sexually assaulted is never to blame. Sexual assault can occur between intimates, dating partners, friends, relatives, acquaintances, or strangers, in long-term or brand new relationships, in opposite or same sex relationships. Sexual assault of any kind is a crime. When discussing topics like sexual assault and safety, words can sound blaming. Think about what you’re going to say before you say it to ensure that the message you send does not take a blaming tone. For example, even safety tips could make survivors feel guilty about their actions. Women are often told not to walk alone, not to go to certain places, not to dress in certain ways. These things do not prevent sexual assault but do limit women’s freedom.
Some good alternatives are:
- Be assertive. Take self-defense and assertiveness training courses - you have the right to say NO!
- Use the buddy system and make sure you are all looking out for one another.
- Don’t feel pressured to have sex in return for affection, gifts, dinner, or flowers. Guilt is no motivation to have sex, neither is wishing to be seen as a “nice girl” or “nice guy.”
- Educate yourself and those around you about sexual assault and the myths surrounding this crime.
- Trust your intuition. If you sense that a situation or person is dangerous, avoid the person or get out of the situation as soon as possible - safety is the most important issue.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone, female or male, whether they are in a relationship (same sex or opposite sex), or not. (Adapted from materials produced by Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis)