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The Law & Sexual Assault

The law recognizes the right of every person to choose whether to have sexual contact with another person. This applies to all kinds of sexual contact – from a touch to intercourse.

Sexual contact without consent is sexual assault. It is also sexual assault to threaten to have sexual contact with someone without their consent. All sexual assaults are violent crimes because the victim has been subjected to sexual contact without their consent.

There are three levels of sexual assault based on the degree of force used.

Sexual Assault: occurs if you have been kissed, fondled or forced to have intercourse without consent.

Sexual Assault With a Weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm: occurs if more than one person assaulted you during the incident or the person who assaulted you did one of the following things...

  • had a weapon, or an imitation weapon and threatened to use it
  • threatened to harm someone else (a child or friend) if you did not consent
  • injured you during the assault

Aggravated Sexual Assault: happens if you were wounded, maimed or disfigured during the assault or if your life was endangered.

Myth: Sexual assault is a crime of passion.
Fact: Sexual assault is an act of VIOLENCE, not passion. It is an attempt to hurt and humiliate, using sex as the weapon.

Myth: If a partner or spouse forces sex on you it’s not sexual assault.
Yes, it is a sexual assault. The law applies to everyone including partners, spouses, people you are dating and people you have had consensual sex with before. In fact statistics indicate that most victims of sexual assault know the person. Sexual violence does not become permissible because the offender is a sexual intimate of the other person. This myth incorrectly assumes that a person’s right to withdraw consent is voided by the fact of a relationship. It also incorrectly assumes that a person may have sex whenever they want, whether their partner is willing or not.

No always means no and only yes, expressed by your words or actions, means yes. A person cannot rely on your implied consent as a defence to sexual assault. Unless you agree to the activity it is sexual assault.

Your lack of consent does not have to be verbal. It may be expressed by words or your conduct. If you did not agree to it, it is sexual assault, even if you did not fight back.

If you are not capable of giving consent, perhaps because you are unconscious (sleeping or passed out), it is sexual assault to engage in any sexual activity with you.

Myth: Someone who was drinking or drunk when sexually assaulted is at least partially to blame.

Fact: Sexual assault survivors are never responsible for the attack. No matter how much alcohol was consumed responsibility lies with the perpetrator; the survivor is never responsible for the perpetrator’s behaviour. Alcohol may increase the risk of sexual assault, and may make someone incapable of giving consent or protecting themselves, but it is not the cause of the assault.


What happens if the person who assaulted me was so drunk that they thought I agreed to the activity?


A person cannot use the defence of consent if they mistakenly believed there was consent because they had been drinking or if they failed to take reasonable steps to determine whether or not you were consenting.


What if I initially agreed to the activity and then I changed my mind?


Even if you initially agree to the sexual activity, you can express by your words or conduct that you no longer agree and that means the person no longer has your consent to continue.


What if someone else told the person who assaulted me that I wanted to have sex with them?


No one else can consent on your behalf.


What if I did not want to consent but was afraid to refuse because my attacker threatened to hurt my family if I did not agree to the activity?


If somebody threatens you to get your consent it is not valid consent. If somebody abuses their position of trust, power or authority to get your consent your consent is not valid. Without consent sexual contact is sexual assault.

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