What is sexual assault?
Sexual Assault is illegal under Canada’s Criminal Codeand refers to:
- any form of unwanted, forced or coerced sexual activity, including kissing, fondling, touching, and any kind of intercourse, that is done onto the Member of the University Community or Visitor without their Consent; or
- any attempts or threats, by an act or a gesture, to force sexual activity onto the Member of the University Community or Visitor, if the person committing the act had or caused the Member of the University Community or Visitor to believe the person committing the act had the present ability to act on the attempt or threat.
Forcing or coercing someone to touch you sexually is also sexual assault. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, of any gender. It may be committed by someone you know (spouse, partner, family member, roommate, date) or by a stranger. Acquaintance sexual assault is more common than assault by a stranger.
Acquaintance sexual assault often occurs when one or more of the parties involved has been drinking or using drugs; in such circumstances inhibitions and communication skills may be diminished. Using alcohol or drugs does not excuse sexual assault, nor does it make the person assaulted in any way responsible for the assault.
Common responses to sexual assault:
- Substance abuse
- Obsessive behaviour
- Feelings of worthlessness
To give adult survivors of sexual assault better support, the province of Nova Scotia created the Legal Advice for Sexual Assault Survivors program.
The program respects survivors’ privacy and their right to make their own decisions. Registering is done through an independent agency, 211 Nova Scotia, and participants do not have to report to police or take legal action if they use this service.