About Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is when someone touches you in a sexual way, on purpose, without your consent.
It can include any type of sexual contact that you didn’t agree to
It is considered a crime in Canada.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone and is NEVER the victim’s fault.
The person who assaulted you may have been a stranger or someone you know.
You may have fought back or felt unable to move.
There are many feelings that you can have afterwards. They are all NORMAL and our team can help you.
What Can I Do If I've Been Assaulted?
If you have been sexually assaulted, know that you are not alone and you do not have to navigate this by yourself. There are people and resources to support you. Immediately after an assault you may want to ensure that you are safe and address any medical concerns and you don't have to go alone.
The more information you have in terms of options for support, the better equipped you are to make a decision about moving forward that is right for you.
Later, connecting with someone you trust whether this is a friend, family member, counsellor or advocate from a sexual assault centre could be helpful in reducing the isolation you may feel.
Please remember that feelings of fear, confusion, embarrassment, shame, anger and guilt are quite normal, but it is important to understand that what happened was not your fault. The responsibility for sexual assault lies solely with the person or people who commit it.
After an assault, survivors may experience sleep disruptions, panic attacks or anxiety, outbursts of anger, extreme sadness or depression, feelings of powerlessness and/or physical injuries from the attack itself or physical symptoms that manifest due trauma. Everyone is different and people process trauma in a variety of ways. There is no specific timeline for how individual bodies, minds and souls remember these events.
SELF CARE CHECKLIST
- Find a space where you feel safe and comforted
- Sleep and Rest
- Eat and Hydrate
- Avoid Substance Use (including alcohol)
- Exercise (runs, walks, climbs, whatever)
- Consider getting a medical check (ideally by staff trained in sexual trauma)
- Consider writing down your memories as they come back to you
- Be kind to yourself
- Give yourself time
- Consider telling someone that you trust who will believe and support you
If you have expereinced sexual harassment or assault there are multiple options available to you if you would like to report it.
What is the difference between Disclosing and Reporting?
A Disclosure: Is simply telling someone about what happened, You can talk to a friend, a counsellor, a doctor, an elder, a family member or someone else that you feel safe sharing your story with
A Report: Is making an official report to the authorities, like the RCMP
Options for reporting and supports:
An assault/harassment that occurred at school
An assault/harassment that occurred at work
HR Department or supervisor
SHARP Workplaces Legal Clinic
An assault/harassment that occurred privately (at a party, at home, on a date, via a stranger etc.)
Victim Services (police-based or community-based)
RCMP / Local police
You may also want to consider a Third Party Report
What is Third Party Reporting?
In BC, an adult can make an anonymous report to the RCMP with the help of a Victim Services worker (There is one in most communities and you can find them through Victim Link)
Third-party reporting allows someone to anonymously report the crime to police/RCMP.
You meet with a victim services worker and share your story with them. They become the THIRD PARTY. Nothing that identifies you is attached to the report. The victim services worker packs the documentation up and sends it to the police. Once the third party files the report on your behalf, police evaluate the facts, start an investigation or take other actions that are appropriate, such as patrolling the area where the crime occurred. Because third party reports are anonymous there are significant limitation on what results can come from the report. The perpetrator likely won't be arrested or even know that the police received the report. But it's a good way to anonymously share your story with police and maybe leave that information behind for a future victim.
This way of reporting protects your identity and also allows police to get information they need. For example, if police learn additional details about the crime through their investigation, the third party can act as a go-between for police to get information from you. It is your decision whether or not to work directly with police.
Only victim service workers in community-based victim service programs can file third-party reports. If you are considering using third party reporting, make sure you select a community-based victim service program and NOT a police-based victim service program (which do not allow third party reporting). To find a community-based victim service program in your area, contact Victim Link BC.