Content warning: This post will discuss sexual assault, which can be an upsetting or triggering subject.
Sexual assault has been in the news a lot lately, but you may not exactly understand what sexual assault is, what it looks like, or what to do if it happens to you or someone you care about.
Sexual assault happens when any sexual activity (including kissing, touching, oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex) happens without someone's consent. The stereotype of rape is that a woman is assaulted by a man she doesn't know, shouts "NO" and fights back during the assault, and then calls 911 and reports to the police immediately after. Sure, sometimes rape does look like that - but not always, or even most often. Sexual assault can also look like coercion (being guilted, threatened, or convinced into having sex again your will). It can look like someone being taken advantage of while extremely drunk or on drugs, and therefore unable to consent. It can look like somebody being afraid to shout no for their own safety, or freezing during an assault instead of fighting back. It can happen between two people who are friends, dating, or even married. People of any gender can commit sexual assault, and people of any gender can be assaulted (although statistically, women tend to be victims and men tend to be perpetrators). And it is never okay.
Sex is only legal if it is consensual. In Canada:
More on consent from the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund:
"The Criminal Code also says there is no consent when:
A person cannot say they mistakenly believed a person was consenting if:
The responsibility for ensuring there is consent is on the person who is initiating or pursuing the sexual activity. When someone has said no to sexual contact, the other person cannot rely on the fact that time has passed or the fact that the individual has not said no again to assume that consent now exists."
Sexual assault is an extremely serious crime in Canada. It has a huge impact on the lives of everyone involved and is not to be taken lightly or treated as a joke.
If you think you have been sexually assaulted, there are resources in place to help you. Reporting to the police is an option, but it's not your only option.
Non-emergency reporting to the Lethbridge Police Service: 403-328-4444
Emergency line: 911
The Amethyst Project is a local organization dedicated to supporting those who have experienced sexual violence. They can go to the hospital with you after an assault and walk you through your options.
For more information: 403-329-0088
YWCA Crisis Line for sexual violence: 403-320-1881
You can also talk to any volunteer or staff member at the MAT if you need someone to listen to point you toward more local resources.