Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault

  • Sexual Assault Is a Criminal Offence.
  • It is a sexual assault to force someone into any kind of sexual activity that he or she doesn’t want and doesn’t consent to.
  • Any kind of sexual activity that the other person doesn’t consent to is sexual assault. The legal definition of sexual assault includes (among other things): oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex, touching, kissing, grabbing, masturbating another person, forcing another person to masturbate you, and masturbating to another person.



Check it Out:

  • If you are sexually assaulted, it is never your fault.
  • People who have been sexually assaulted often feel embarrassed or ashamed or that it is somehow their fault.
  • It is not. No one “asks for it.” You are not to blame because of the way you look, the clothes you were wearing, or where you were. You are not to blame because you were drinking or high.
  • If you are sexually assaulted, the person who assaults you is committing a crime. Crime is the criminal’s fault, not yours.


Sexual assault is a crime. Threatening to sexually assault someone is a crime.

  • Anyone can be sexually assaulted—it makes no difference whether you are straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual.
  • Males, females and transgender people can be victims of sexual assault, and males, females or transgender people can commit sexual assault.
  • No one has the right to force another person into having sex or any kind of sexual activity—not a partner, not a date, not a friend, not a relative, not a stranger.
  • Everyone has the right to change his or her mind at any point—even during sex.
  • If you are afraid that you’ll be hurt if you say “No,” talk to someone NOW.
  • Everyone has the right to say “No.” No one has the right to hurt you.



What is consent?

  • Consent is a voluntary agreement. This means that two people agree to do certain things of their own free will.
  • Legal consent means saying “Yes” because you want to say yes. A person who agrees to sexual activity because he or she is pressured, afraid, forced, lied to, or threatened has not legally consented. This is because they have not voluntarily agreed to sexual activity.
  • The legal age of sexual consent in Canada is 16.

 The exceptions to this are:

  • A 12- or 13-year-old can consent to sexual activity with a partner who is less than two years older than he or she is. However, there can be no legal consent if the 12- or 13-year-old is dependent on the partner, or if the partner is abusing or taking advantage of the 12- or 13-year-old.
  •  A 14- or 15-year-old can consent to sexual activity with a partner who is less than five years older than he or she is. However, there can be no legal consent if the 14- or 15-year-old is dependent on the partner, or if the partner is abusing or taking advantage of the 14- or 15-year-old.
  • A 14- or 15-year-old can consent to sexual activity with a partner to whom he or she is married.


What is not consent?

  • There are times when consent is NOT legally possible.
  • A child under age 12 can NEVER give legal consent to sexual activity.
  •  There can be no legal consent when a person is drunk, drugged, asleep, or passed out.
  •  There cannot be legal consent when one person is under the age of 18 and the other is in a position of authority or trust—for example, a teacher, neighbor, parent, older sibling, babysitter, relative, or  coach. This is because there can be no voluntary consent unless the two people are equal. If one person has power over the other, consent is not legally possible.
  • Unmarried people under age 18 cannot legally consent to anal sex.
  • Sexual activity without consent is a criminal offense.


Sexual Assault and Date Rape

  • NO always means NO. STOP always means STOP. If someone says NO and you do not stop, you are committing a crime.
  • Most sexual assaults are NOT committed by strangers. When a teen is sexually assaulted, 85% of the time it is by someone he or she knows. It could be a friend, a date, a relative, or someone you’ve seen around. And most of the time, it doesn’t happen in a dark alley. It happens on a date—in a car or at a party or in someone’s house. Maybe even in your own house.
  • It’s your responsibility to accept and respect your partner’s limits. It is also your responsibility to ask your partner if what you are doing is okay. You cannot assume that because your partner doesn’t say anything, you can just go ahead. For example, even if your partner says “okay” to kissing and touching, you still need to ask if it’s okay to go further. You can say, “Is this okay, too?” If your partner doesn’t say “yes,” then stop. Silence does not mean consent. Either partner can change their mind at any point, even during sex.
  • Drugs and alcohol are often involved in sexual assault. No one can consent to sex while drunk, drugged, or unconscious. Drugging someone or getting them drunk so you can have sex with her or him is sexual assault. It is a crime.



Get help if you’ve been sexually assaulted

  • You need to get medical help as soon as possible if you’ve been sexually assaulted. Early treatment can help prevent HIV and pregnancy. Testing within 24 hours can show if there is a date rape drug in your system.

For immediate help and treatment

  •  Local police or RCMP—call 911
  • Hospital emergency departments

For support, advice, or counseling

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868


  • Talk to a parent, friend, teacher, guidance counselor, a school nurse, or other adults you trust.



How to help a friend who’s been sexually assaulted

  •  Believe her or him.
  •  Remind your friend over and over that it is not his or her fault.
  •  Offer emotional support. Be there when your friend needs you.
  •  Respect your friend’s confidence in you. Don’t gossip about what happened.
  •  Help your friend find treatment and counseling including being tested for STIs and pregnancy.
  •  Be patient. It can take a long time for someone to recover physically and even longer to recover emotionally from sexual assault.




About A Healthy Sexuality Resource

Sexuality is part of being human. It’s a normal and healthy part of everyone’s life, whether you’re straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual, or if you are male, female or transgender. Sexuality is about feelings and desires. It’s about finding your own way to juggle feelings that are confusing and scary and exciting—all at the same time. Sexuality includes sexual feelings and the decisions you make about how you act on those feelings. --- The Nova Scotia Department of Health & Wellness.

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