Let's talk about sexual assault

Ask, listen, talk addresses one of society’s biggest challenges when it comes to sexual assault: we have too few conversations about it, and even when we do have conversations, we usually walk away with big misunderstandings.

If sexual assault happened to you, if you’re worried that it happened to a friend, or if you just want to know how to talk about these issues in a more constructive way, the information below may help you. You can also check out other information and resources to visit websites from other organizations and communities.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any sexual activity that occurs without consent or the capacity to give consent.

Sexual assault is a crime, even if the people involved are married or dating.

Sexual violence, more broadly, can also include sexual harassment, partner violence, stalking, and criminal harassment.

Who does sexual assault happen to?

Anyone. Statistics estimate that 1 in 6 men and 1 in 3 women in Canada have been sexually assaulted or abused.

Certain groups face a much higher risk of being sexually assaulted:

Although sexual assault is a gendered crime--meaning that women are far more likely to be victims, and men far more likely to be perpetrators--there is no “typical” victim. Sexual assault happens to people of every racial and ethnic background, people who are rich and people who are poor, people who are educated and uneducated, and people who are disabled-bodied and able-bodied.

Why does sexual assault happen on university and college campuses?

Sexual assault and sexual violence are societal problems. Universities and colleges are not inherently “dangerous” places where sexual assault is encouraged or condoned.

However, we know that women attending university and college face a much higher risk of sexual assault, so we have to take a hard look at where the problem comes from and how we can do better. There’s no doubt that attitudes toward and expectations about alcohol and drug use, sexual activity, and social interaction are different in a university setting. Victims may feel confused or intimidated about where to go for help. When everyone’s trying to figure out what’s okay and not okay in this new, adult world, and when some people feel like they don’t have a place to turn in times of trouble, it creates vulnerability.

Every member of the Victoria College community has a responsibility to acknowledge, talk about, and work to prevent sexual assault, harassment, and exploitation on our campus. In addition to being a criminal matter, sexual assault is an offence prohibited by the University of Toronto's Code of Student Conduct.

How do I prevent sexual assault?

Make sure you have consent before engaging in sexual activity, and while you are engaging in any sexual act.

A common misconception about sexual assault is that victims can somehow prevent it--by wearing less revealing clothing, by not drinking excessively, by being less flirtatious. It’s always a good idea to look out for your own safety, but the only person responsible for and able to stop sexual assault from happening is the perpetrator.

Getting educated and speaking up for others if you see something wrong is another way to help decrease the likelihood of sexual assault happening on campus. If you are a bystander to sexual harassment or assault—or if you see warning signs—your actions can make a big difference in someone's life.

I don’t want to sexually assault someone. How do I know for sure that I have their consent?

In Canada, consent is a term that is legally defined in the Criminal Code as the voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.

Consent:

Consenting to one kind or instance of sexual activity does not mean that consent is given to any other sexual activity or instance.

In order to know for sure that you have someone’s consent, you have to ask them. If you get anything but a clear, confident, “Yes,” you don’t have consent.

Current Students