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About Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault


How do you know if it is an assault?

Are rape and assault the same thing?

These terms are often used interchangeably in our society and in the media. But there is a difference. 


What is Sexual Assault?

The most simple definition of sexual assault is when sexual contact happens without consent. An assault can be attempted rape, unwanted fondling, groping, or being forced to perform any type of sexual act against your will. It can take many different forms, but it is NEVER the survivor's fault. According to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual assault is a crime of power and control. When the sexual contact involves penetration it’s considered rape. Some people use sexual assault and rape interchangeably, but it is important to note that while all rapes are sexual assaults, not all sexual assaults are rapes.

Who can be sexually assaulted?

We mostly hear stories of women being sexually assaulted by men, but assault doesn’t always fit that model. Men, women and folks who don’t identify with the gender binary can all be sexually assaulted.

Who are the perpetrators?

Who sexually assaults? When most people think of rape or sexual assault, they think of a male stranger in an alleyway with weapons and drugs. The reality is, most people know their attacker before an attack. Anyone can be assaulted, people of any gender can assault somebody else.

What do assaults that do not use force look like?

Coercion is a situation where the perpetrator uses threats, pressure, or intimidation to initiate sexual contact. Coercion is anytime someone makes you too afraid to say no or wears you down to either silence or to a yes after you said no. Another way a perpetrator can get their way is through incapacitating their victim. While there are other drugs that can be used, alcohol is the most common rape drug. This is tricky because people get drunk and have sex all the time. So how do you know when a drunken hookup crosses the line? Are one or all people too drunk to the point where they’re slurring their words and stumbling around? If someone is too drunk to drive, they’re probably too drunk to have sex too. This is true even if both parties are too drunk.

Click here to learn more about sexual assault on the RAINN website.

 Click on the "Sexual Assault in Canada Factsheet" developed by sexualityandu.ca to learn more.