What is sexual violence?
At Concordia, sexual violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment have the following official definitions according to the Policy Regarding Sexual Violence (PRVPAA-3):
“Sexual Violence” means any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality. This includes, but is not limited to sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, degrading sexual imagery, distribution of sexual images or video of a community member without their consent, and cyber harassment or cyberstalking of a sexual nature or related to a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or presentation.
“Sexual Assault” is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. It is illegal. Sexual assault is any unwanted act of a sexual nature imposed by one person upon another and includes such activities as kissing, fondling, oral or anal sex, intercourse, or other forms of penetration, without consent. Sexual assault can occur between strangers, acquaintances or be perpetrated by someone known to the survivor/victim. It can also occur in a dating relationship, between spouses, or in any other relationship.
“Sexual Harassment” is a course of unwanted remarks, behaviours, innuendo, taunting or communications of a sexual nature and/or a course of unwanted remarks, behaviours or communications based on gender, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation where the person responsible for the remarks, behaviours or communications knows or ought reasonably to know that these are unwelcome. Sexual harassment may consist of unwanted attention of a sexual nature such as personal questions about one’s sex life, unwelcome sexual invitations or requests, or unwelcome remarks about someone’s appearance. Sexual harassment may also consist of unwelcome remarks based on gender, gender identity or sexual orientation where such remarks may not be of a sexual nature but are nevertheless demeaning such as derogatory gender based jokes or comments. A single serious incidence of such behaviour may constitute harassment if it has the same consequences and if it produces a lasting harmful effect on the survivor/victim.
Types of sexual violence
Sexual violence comes in many forms, which can all have lasting negative impacts on the survivor/victim. Several commonplace examples of various types of sexual violence are listed in the table below.¹ ² ³
If you have experienced any form of sexual violence, help and support is available both on and off campus. Check out our Crisis Information and Resources PDF (link to pdf) for more information, or visit Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre.
Facts and Statistics About Sexual Violence on Campus in Canada
|Only around 10% of incidents occurring in campuses across Québec are reported to the university.¹|
Some General Facts About Sexual Violence in Canada:
- Approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime.
- Sexual assault is currently the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining. Notably, the rates of police-reported sexual assaults against women by their intimate partners increased by 17% between 2009-2013.
- It is estimated that only between 2-8% of sexual assault reports in Canada are false or misleading.
- 76% of Bisexual women and 51% of Lesbian women have experienced unwanted sexual behaviors.
- 40% of First Nations and Métis women have experienced unwanted sexual behaviors.
- Gay and bisexual men experience 3 times more unwanted sexual behavior in public than heterosexual men.
- Bisexual women and transgender people face very high rates of domestic violence (around 67% and between 45-55% respectively), including sexual violence.
- Indigenous women are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other women.
- Sexual assaults account for about 33% of all crimes committed against Aboriginal women, and 10% of all crimes committed against non-Aboriginal women
- Racialized women experience physical, sexual, and domestic violence at higher rates than their white counterparts.
- Sex workers – especially sex workers who are transwomen – face extremely high rates of rape and sexual assault compared to the general population.
- 17% of sexual assaults against women in Canada are committed by their intimate partner.
- 83% of disabled women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime.
- Only 5% of women victims of sexual violence reported to the police
- Sexual minority Canadians were also more likely than heterosexual Canadians to report experiencing inappropriate behaviours in public (57% versus 22%), online (37% versus 15%) and at work (44% versus 22%) in the 12 months preceding the survey.
- 65% Of Two Spirit people reported being sexually assaulted, compared with 37% of non-Indigenous sexual minorities.
Barriers to reporting:
Despite this high statistics, it is important to note that only a fraction of sexual violence cases are reported. Survivors of sexual violence face many barriers to report, not only personal, but systemic and institutional barriers which are very much intended to keep survivors from reporting. These barriers may include but are not limited to:
- Racism and discrimination in the Canadian justice system, including and most importantly from the police.
- Dealing with cases “internally” to prevent “scandals”
- Confidentiality agreements / NDAs
- Inaccessible, convoluted, and complicated reporting mechanisms
- Coercion and intimidation
- Cultural taboos
- RAINN. 2018. “Types of Sexual Violence.” Online resource. https://www.rainn.org/types-sexual-violence.
- UpCounsel. 2018. “Examples of Sexual Harassment: Everything You Need To Know.” Online resource. https://www.upcounsel.com/examples-of-sexual-harassment.
- Éducaloi. 2018. “Criminal Harassment (Stalking).” Online resource. https://www.educaloi.qc.ca/en/capsules/criminal-harassment-stalking.
- Bergeron, Manon, Martine Hébert, Sandrine Ricci, Marie-France Goyer, Nathalie Duhamel, and Lyne Kurtzman. 2016. “Violences sexuelles en milieu universitaire au Québec.” Research report. http://salledepresse.uqam.ca/fichier/document/PDF/Rapport_ESSIMU_FINAL.pdf.
- Students’ Society of McGill University. 2017. “Our Turn: A National, Student-Led Action Plan to End Campus Sexual Violence.” Report. https://ssmu.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/our_turn_action_plan_final_english_web.pdf?x26516.
- Concordia University. 2018. “Report of the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence.” Report. http://www.concordia.ca/content/dam/concordia/president/Task-Force-Report-En.pdf.
- SACHA Sexual Assault Centre. 2018. “Statistics.” Online resource. http://sacha.ca/resources/statistics.
- Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario. 2015. “Sexual Violence on Campus.” Report. http://cfsontario.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Factsheet-SexualAssault.pdf.
- Canadian Women’s Foundation. 2016. “Fact Sheet: Sexual Assault and Harassment.” Available online: https://www.canadianwomen.org/the-facts/sexual-assault-harassment/.
- Conroy, Shana, and Adam Cotter. 2017. “Self-reported sexual assault in Canada, 2014.” Statistics Canada, July 11. Report. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2017001/article/14842-eng.htm.
- Cotter, Adam, and Savage, Laura. 2019. “Gender-based violence and unwanted sexual behaviour in Canada, 2018: Initial findings from the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces”, Statistics Canada, April 30. Report. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2019001/article/00017-eng.htm
Jaffrey, Brianna. 2020. “Experiences of violent victimization and unwanted sexual behaviours among gay, lesbian, bisexual and other sexual minority people, and the transgender population, in Canada, 2018”, Statistics Canada, April 30. Report.