There are a lot of misconceptions about what sexualized violence is and why it happens. Knowing what to do to help yourself and a loved one can feel overwhelming. Here are some commonly asked questions. If you have other questions, call our 24-hour Crisis and Information Line at 250-383-3232.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often do sexual assault occur?
Don’t men get sexually assaulted just as much as women and [trans] people do?
Who is most at risk for sexual assault?
Am I more likely to be sexually assaulted by a stranger or by someone I know? In my home or in a public place?
What can I do to prevent sexual assault?
What can I do to help someone who has been sexually assaulted?
Q: How often do sexual assaults occur?
A: We know that many people do not report sexual assaults when they occur. It is estimated that only 6% of sexual assaults are reported to police. Many survivors never tell anyone that they have been sexually assaulted. We do know that in 2004 the rate of reported sexual assaults was 82 per 100,000 population. Given that this figure represents only approximately 6% of the sexual assaults that occur each year, sexual assault is not uncommon in this country.
Q: Don’t men get sexually assaulted just as much as women and [trans] people do?
A: It is true that men can be the victims of sexual violence. However, the majority of victims are gender variant people and women and the vast majority of sexual assault is perpetrated by men. This reflects the reality of gender expectations in our society; men are pressured to seek power and control, and other genders are viewed as weaker and sexualized.
Q: Who is most at risk for sexual assault?
A: Anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, dis/ability, socioeconomic status, or geographic location is at risk for sexual assault. That being said, some people are at greater risk than others. For example, 63% of sexual assaults reported to the police involve girls and young women under the age of eighteen. Women living in poverty are at heightened risk for sexual assault, as are women with disabilities (83%). One in three women and one in two [trans] people will experience sexual assault in their lifetime.
Q: Am I more likely to be sexually assaulted by a stranger or by someone I know? In my home or in a public place?
A: Contrary to popular belief, you are more likely to be assaulted by someone you know than by a stranger lurking in the bushes. Sixty-nine percent of women who have been sexually assaulted are assaulted by men they know. Statistics demonstrate that 31% of sexual assaults occur in dating and acquaintance relationships. Most sexual assaults occur in private places. 24% took place in the victim’s home, 20% in the perpetrator’s home, 10% in someone else’s home, 25% in a car and 21% in a public place.
Q: What can I do to prevent sexual assault?
A: The best way to prevent sexual assault is to work with others to change a society that presently normalizes sexual assault and other forms of violence. You can do this in your own relationships by making sure you get consent for every sexual act, every time and always respect when someone says “no.”
There are also steps that you can take to promote your safety. As most sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, it is important to trust your instincts. If you are dating someone who does not respect your body or your autonomy, or seems untrustworthy, you may want to end the relationship. In public spaces stay aware of your surroundings and leave situations where you feel unsafe or threatened. If an assault does occur, do whatever feels safe and appropriate for you in the circumstances. It is important to remember that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. It is the perpetrator who is responsible for their actions.
Back to top ↑
Q: What can I do to help someone who has been sexually assaulted?
A: If a friend, relative or acquaintance discloses that they have been sexually assaulted, it is critical that you let them know that you believe them. This is the first step in helping them to begin to heal. Second, let them know that they are not alone. One in three women and one in two [trans] people will experience at least one incident of sexual violence in their lifetime. There are also many avenues for support, whether it be making a report, calling a crisis line, or seeking counselling; there is no one way to heal. Surviving a sexual assault can be an isolating and lonely experience, and this information can help alleviate this. Third, support any decision that the survivor makes. Whether or not they choose to go to the police, whether or not they choose to go to a sexual assault centre or emergency room, it is important that they feel that they have made the right decision for themselves, without judgment from others.