Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is defined as an assault of sexual nature that violates the sexual integrity of the victim. Sexual assault can include any form of sexual activity. Kissing, touching, oral sex, and vaginal or anal penetration are all examples of sexual assault if these acts are done without consent. Basically, any physical contact, that is sexual in any way, done without a person's voluntary consent is sexual assault. For adults, it is the lack of consent, not the type of sexual activity that is the major factor in determining whether a sexual assault has occurred.

Consent means the voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question.

The Criminal provides five specific situations where consent is not obtained (Adapted from the Criminal Code of Canada Section 273.1):

  • Consent is not obtained if someone else says ‘yes’.
  • Consent is not obtained if the accused abuses a position of trust, power or authority.
  • Consent is not obtained if the person does not say yes, or says or implies no through words or behaviors.
  • Consent is not obtained if the person is not capable of giving consent. (i.e. drunk or high, unconscious or sleeping).
  • Consent is not obtained if the person changes her/his mind.
  • For more information on consent: http://www.consented.ca/consent/clearing-up-consent/

Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

Many substances can be associated to sexual assault; the term “drug” includes alcohol, over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, as well as illegal drugs.  Drug-facilitated sexual assault impacts an individual’s capacity to recognize, resist, or attempt to resist sexual assault. It is important to remember that even if alcohol or drugs were taken willingly; consenting to alcohol or drugs is not consenting to sex.  Some common ‘date rape drugs’ are discussed here: http://www.sexualityandu.ca/sexual-health/drug_facilitated_sexual_assault/the-drugs

When it happens

Because someone who has experienced a drug-facilitated sexual assault is likely to be confused and disoriented, they may not even be certain if a sexual assault has occurred. With little or no memory of a sexual assault, the survivor needs to piece together a variety of indications, including:

  • waking up in different surroundings and not knowing how you got there
  • you were not drinking alcohol or using drugs, or believe the amount you consumed does not reflect the loss of memory you are experiencing
  • waking up with clothes that are missing, put on differently, torn or stained
  • loss of memory for part of the evening or day
  • a sense that something is “not right”
  • sore muscles
  • physical marks, scrapes, bruises
  • soreness in the genital or anal areas, or the breasts
  • abnormal discharge

What to do if you have been sexually assaulted, or think you may have been sexually assaulted:

Experiencing a sexual assault can be physically and emotionally traumatic. There are many things to consider.  If you suspect you have been drugged or sexually assaulted, you should see a health care provider right away. In many circumstances, the health care professional does not have to report the assault.  You may want to see a physician for emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy, to be tested/treated for possible STI’s, and have support in deciding what your next step might be.

UPEI’s Student Affairs Department can offer counselling, address health concerns and pregnancy/STI testing, and support you through the decision-making process of reporting the sexual assault.  Your privacy and right to confidentiality are taken very seriously.  Please note there are some circumstances where confidentiality cannot be maintained (i.e. disclosure of child abuse).

How to support someone that discloses sexual assault, or you witness a sexual assault:

  • Be calm.
  • Believe. It's not your role to question whether a sexual assault has occurred. Don't minimize or dismiss what's happened, just validate the individual’s feelings.
  • Listen.
  • Talk without blame or judgment. No one ever deserves to be sexually assaulted. It doesn't matter whether the individual was drunk or high, how they were behaving or even if they were involved in a relationship with the perpetrator.
  • Help them explore options. Encourage the individual to make their own decisions about what happens next, and be respectful of those choices.
  • Stay close. If the assault is very recent, offer to accompany them wherever they needs to go (for medical attention, to report to police or campus security, etc.). Ensure the individual’s immediate safety.
  • Understand how an individual responds can be complex and varied.
  • Take care of yourself, too. The impact of sexual assault extends far beyond the survivor. You'll likely have strong feelings about what's happened to your loved one or friend, and it's important to deal with these

Reporting Sexual Assault

Reporting sexual assault is a very difficult and emotional decision.  If you feel it is the right decision, it is important to report as soon as possible, so important evidence can be collected. Try to preserve all evidence of the assault. Avoid drinking, bathing, showering, douching, brushing your teeth, or changing your clothes. Try to write down, or have a friend write down, everything you can remember about the incident including a physical description of the perpetrator, their identity if you know it, and the use of threats, force or coercion, such as asking repeatedly, pressuring you, getting you to drink a lot or take drugs, etc.

What can I expect if I report a sexual assault? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHGS8FvEypw#t=1473

Common Myths Surrounding Sexual Assault

MYTH 1: Most rapes are committed by strangers.

FACT: More often than not, sexual assault is perpetrated by a family member, relative, friend or acquaintance. In fact, in 64% of reported cases the victim knew the accused.

MYTH 2: People sometimes say "no", whey they really mean "yes".

FACT: No means NO, regardless of the circumstance. Also, if someone says "yes" under duress it is not consent—consent must be given voluntarily.

MYTH 3: Men can't be raped.

FACT: Many men don't report their sexual assault, so statistics are limited. However, of the assaults that are reported, approximately 15.7% of them involve male victims.

MYTH 4: She must have somehow "asked for it."

FACT: This is often how the attacker justifies his behavior. What ‘type of woman' she is, what her occupation is, or how a woman dresses or acts, are irrelevant. No one asks to be raped.

MYTH 5: Women who feel guilty or vindictive often lie about being raped.

FACT: Rarely are false reports of sexual assault made. The truth is, sexual assault is a greatly under-reported crime, especially if the survivor knows her (or his) attacker.

MYTH 6: Certain types of women are "unrapeable."

FACT: Regardless of a woman's profession or sexual practices, she can still be sexually assaulted. If consent isn't given willingly it is rape. Rape is not about the sex, it is an act of dominance and control.

MYTH 7: Women can't be assaulted by husbands or boyfriends.

FACT: According to the law, a woman has the right to say no to her significant other. Again, it's about willing consent. If it's not given, it's sexual assault.

MYTH 8: Carrying some form of protection can prevent sexual assault.

FACT: Maybe. Maybe not. But telling someone that carrying mace or keys between their fingers, etc. could prevent an attack only adds to a survivor's sense of guilt and self-blame.

MYTH 9: Rape is a crime of passion.

FACT: In over 70% of the cases, rape is a premeditated act of VIOLENCE, and has nothing to do with passion. The vast majority of rapists are motivated by power, anger, and control, not sexual gratification.

MYTH 10: People who are intoxicated or on drugs are willing to participate in any kind of sexual activity.

FACT: Drinking or taking drugs does not imply consent. In fact, alcohol and drugs can render a person incapable of consent—and no consent equals assault.

Adapted from: Making a Difference Canada

Community Resources

Helpful Websites

Contact UPEI