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Sexual assault and harassment are persistent forms of gender-based violence that are rooted in gender inequality. In fact, sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining. Its impact goes far beyond survivors; dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault costs Canadians billions of dollars every year.
This fact answers some frequently asked questions about sexual assault and harassment in Canada. For more information about other forms of gender-based violence, consult:. Sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining. Sincerates of sexual assault have remained relatively unchanged. While the rate of sexual assault has remained stable, rates of robbery and physical assault have gone down, and men are more likely to be the victims of these crimes. The impact of sexual assault goes far beyond direct victims.
Each year, sexual assault costs Canadian society billions of dollars. Learn more about our approach and hear stories about our impact. Only one party is responsible for sexually assaulting or harassing another person: the perpetrator.
Victim-blaming le many women to believe abuse is their fault and makes them less likely to come forward and report sexual offenses. Like other forms of violence against women, sexual assault is rooted in gender inequality. Those who commit sexual assault perceive the victim as unequal. This inequality creates a rationale for control, humiliation, intimidation and abuse.
In our society, gender inequality is present in many areas 25including politics, religion, media, cultural norms, and the workplace. Both men and women receive many messages — both overt and covert — that is it natural for men to have more social power than women.
The false belief that men have a right to control women, even violently, is common. Hyper-masculinity—the notion that masculinity is determined by strength and power—is damaging for men, women and everyone in between. It promotes violence and entitlement and devalues feeling and emotions. Men who demonstrate hostile and hyper-masculine attitudes are more likely to self-report sexual aggression against women.
In addition to sexism, there are many other forms of social inequality that can compound abuse and violence, including racism, homophobia, classism, ageism, ableism, and religious persecution. The social tendency toward victim-blaming reinforces the notion that abuse and assault are acceptable, and allows the perpetrator to defend and continue their actions.
Understanding consent plays a key role in understanding what constitutes sexual assault. Without consent, any sexual contact is sexual assault. Consent needs to be enthusiastic and ongoing. Based on the Canadian legal definition, consent cannot be given in a situation that involves an abuse of trust, power or authority.
Anyone who is unconscious cannot legally give consent. There is also a blurred understanding of consent when it comes to online and offline activity: 1 in 5 Canadians between the ages of 18 to 34 believe that if a woman sends an explicit photo through or text, this always means she is giving consent to a sexual activity. While sexual assault refers to unwanted sexual activity, including touching and attacks, sexual harassment can encompass discriminatory comments, behaviour, as well as touching.
Women journalists across the country have reported that male passers-by shout this obscene phrase at them while they attempt to broadcast news segments. The Internet has led to incredible advancements, but it has also provided a platform for new forms of harassment. Young women are most likely to experience online harassment in its most severe forms, including stalking, sexual harassment, and physical threats. It can take the form of threats or abuse of trust or power. Women and girls are at higher risk of trafficking.
When freezing occurs during a trauma like sexual assault or harassment, a person becomes physically incapable of resisting or speaking up. In this context, the shock of such unexpected danger can paralyze the person being assaulted or harassed. Experts and survivors say the pressure to be polite is so ingrained that it can make speaking up about assault or harassment very difficult. Another reason women might not speak up about sexual assault or harassment is because the abuser is in a position of authority in their workplace, school, sports team, family, or community.
Many fear that speaking up will jeopardize their goals, career or reputation.
Our culture has become accustomed to blaming victims for abuse rather than the perpetrators. When women internalize victim-blaming, they might experience psychological responses to trauma including:. Survivors can respond to harassment and assault in many ways. There is no correct way to react 56 and many people find themselves reaching out to or staying in touch with an abuser. According to Dr. Survivors might minimize an isolated event or deny that it happened because of a desire to feel loved by the abuser or to avoid the stigma of being a victim. They may feel controlled by their abuser … in some instances, those in an abusive relationship go through periods of calm, nurturing and love between the incidents of violence.
The estimate is based on a analysis of self-reported sexual assault data and court statistics. After a sexual assault, a women might experience a range of psychological responses that affect her ability to report an incident, including denial, shock, guilt, shame, embarrassment, grief, anger, and fear. Sexual assault and harassment can be traumatic for survivors; many people experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the process of reporting an incident can be re-traumatizing. Immigrant women who arrive in Canada traumatized by war or oppressive governments may be less likely to report physical or sexual violence to the authorities for fear of further victimization or even deportation.
Studies suggest that when women of colour report violence, particularly rape, their experiences are often taken less seriously within the criminal justice system. There is a belief that it is common for women to falsely report sexual assault. One of the ways to prevent sexual assault is by understanding consent and raising awareness about its importance. For more information about consent, go to getconsent. Research shows that high-school violence prevention programs are highly effective.
Even years after attending one of our funded programs, students experienced long-term benefits such as better dating relationships, the ability to recognize and leave an unhealthy relationship, and increased self-confidence, assertiveness, and leadership. Recognize and challenge victim-blaming, and let survivors and victims know that sexual assault is not their fault. Hold perpetrators able for their actions.
It allows abusers to defend and continue their actions. Address systemic barriers in the legal system to allow for better access to justice for those who experience sexual assault and harassment. Challenge gender inequality wherever you see it. If you or someone you know is seeking support for abuse or violence, please visit our support services list.
Site deed by De de Plume Inc. Is sexual assault really as common as some people say? The rate of sexual assault for Canadians age 15 to 24 is 18 times higher than that of Canadians age 55 and older. Aren't most sexual assaults very minor?
To avoid sexual assault, shouldn't women take responsibility for their own safety and avoid drinking too much or meeting up with strangers? Why would someone sexually assault or harass a woman? How do you know if someone is consenting to sexual activity? What's the difference between sexual assault and sexual harassment? What is trafficking? Trafficking is a term used in law to describe recruiting, transporting, and holding people for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficking is a criminal offence. Men who are trafficked are often exploited for physical labour like construction work.
Women who are trafficked are often subject to sexual coercion to force them into other kinds of labour such as domestic labour or commercial sexual activity. The main sources of data are the police and the courts. But there may be many barriers to reporting for those being victimized and police-reported cases of trafficking may not be charged or processed in the legal system as such.
It is a specific legal term that may not match how people who experience exploitation describe what happens to them. When trafficking is conflated with sex work in the research, it can skew data analysis and understanding of the issue. Why would someone stay in touch with an abuser after being sexually assaulted? Why are so few sexual assaults reported to police?
How can sexual assault be stopped? The Facts. What are we doing about gender-based violence? Violence Prevention Programs. Get Involved Yes, I want to take action and make a difference! Donate Yes, I want to invest in advancing gender equality! Stay connected through updates. Up. Seeking support?
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