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SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN SASKATCHEWAN: VOICES, STORIES, INSIGHTS, AND ACTIONS FROM THE FRONT LINES

Three years ago, we partnered with the Community-Institute for Social Research to conduct an extensive study of sexual violence in Saskatchewan. On April 29, 2020 the report, Sexual Violence in Saskatchewan: Voices, Stories, Insights, and Actions from the Front Lines, was released to the public in collaboration with the Community-University Institute for Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Women’s Secretariat, and the Saskatchewan First Nation Women’s Commission.

The research aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of sexual violence in our province through individual esperiences and an examination of the strengths, gaps, and barriers in services. We thank all those who participated in this study for their strength, resilience, compassion, and determination for change. 

Below is an overview of some of the key findings from the report including who is being assaulted, who they perpetrators are, and barriers that exist for reporting and support: 

Who is being assaulted?

Statistics Canada states that one in three women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. However, Saskatchewan currently has one of the highest rates of sexual violence across the country. Our research findings reinforce that women are more likely to experience sexual violence (88.35%) and suggest that the majority of assaualts occurred between the ages of 13 and 23. 

Populations including Indigenous youth, 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, and those living in rural and remote communities are significantly more vulnerable to sexual victimization.

Who are the perpetrators?

Survivors under the age of 18 years were most likely to be assaulted by someone they knew such as a family member, an acquaintance, or a friend. These assaults happened most frequently in their homes and schools.

Adults reported being assaulted most often by intimate partners, acquaintances, and intimate strangers. 

Reporting and Supports

Over 70% of participants told someone about the assault, however, only 23% reported to police. Instead, survivors sought support primarily from friends, family members, and counsellors. If a disclosure was not made within three days following the assault, survivors often did not disclose for at least two years.

The reasons given for not formally reporting to police or RCMP included:

  • fear of not being believed 
  • fear of being blamed for the assault, shame and embarrassment
  • fear of retaliation from perpetrator or perpetrator’s network
  • anonymity concerns 
  • lack of understanding that the violations were crimes
  • lack of trust of law enforcement’s ability to handle sexual assault cases
  • fear of the criminal court process

Survivors were most satisfied recieving support from sexual assault and mental health counsellors and were least satisfied following experiences with police and the justice system. 

Survivors also identified various barriers to accessing services including:

  • anonymity concerns 
  • previous negative experiences with service providers
  • lack of transportation 
  • poverty 
  • shame and being blamed for the assault
  • homophobia and lack of inclusive services
  • lack of support from friends and family
  • lack of services for minors and youth
  • lack of Indigenous services
  • internalized beliefs
  • mental illness
  • being told that the assault was not legitimate
  • fear of retaliation
  • limited operating hours for services

If you or someone you know is in need of support, visit our website to find counselling and support services in your community. 

Press Release

Executive Summary

Full Report

*This study has been funded by the Women and Gender Equality Canada’s Women’s Program.

How to Become a First Responder to Sexual Assault and Abuse

According to Statistics Canada, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

While survivors of sexual assault are disproportionately women, the reality is that sexual assault can happen to any person, any age, no matter their gender or ethnicity. Sexual assault happens every day and most frequently in homes of friends, families and co-workers.

85% of survivors are assaulted by someone they know.

Because of the relational and personal nature of this crime, survivors often live in silence and shame. Dominant societal myths about sexual assault reinforce the misconceptions that survivors are responsible for the crimes that have been committed against them. This further contributes to very low reporting rates to law enforcement, and results in survivors not reaching out for medical or counselling assistance.

Survivors who receive safe and supportive responses to disclosures of sexual violence are more likely to reach out to medical and counselling services or report to police.

With the support from the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) and our funder, the Ministry of Justice, we have implemented the First Responder to Sexual Assault and Abuse Training™ in Saskatchewan.

The First Responder to Sexual Assault and Abuse Training™ is a two-day course designed to educate individuals about the social, cultural and legal aspects of sexual assault and abuse, which will enable them to recognize, define and respond appropriately to the continuum of behaviours that constitute sexual assault and abuse.

The First Responder to Sexual Assault and Abuse Training™ benefits professionals, paraprofessionals, and community members who are interested in increasing their knowledge and skills to address disclosures of sexual violence.

The training is designed to aid those who work with individuals who have, or are at risk of, experiencing sexual violence. This includes, but is not limited to, those working in the fields of Physical and Mental Health, Justice, Social Work, and Education.

Individuals who have been trained in Saskatchewan include: Elders and Religious Leaders, University Students, Crisis Workers, Teachers, Nurses, Police and RCMP, Army Support Workers, Tribal Councils and Family Court Mediators.

Through the First Responder to Sexual Assault and Abuse Training™, our goal is to build capacity for professionals, volunteers, and community members throughout Saskatchewan to assess and respond effectively to disclosures of sexual assault and abuse. This should help ensure that those who have experienced sexual violence reach out for the help they need, and that they are provided with resources and empathy after disclosing.

If you’re interested in learning more about The First Responder to Sexual Assault and Abuse Training™ and where to register for training in Saskatchewan, click here.


Resource References

Statistic Canada 2013 Report:
www.statcan.gc.ca, Association of Albert Sexual Assault Services:
www.aasas.ca