Myths and Facts



It wasn't rape, so it wasn't sexual violence. Sexual assault and sexual violence encompass a broad range of unwanted sexual activity. Any unwanted sexual contact is considered to be sexual violence. A complainant can be severely affected by all forms of sexual violence including unwanted fondling, rubbing, kissing or other sexual acts. Many forms of sexual violence involve no physical contact, such as stalking or distributing intimate visual recordings. All of these acts are serious and can be damaging.
Sexual assault can't happen to me or anyone I know. Sexual assault can and does happen to anyone. People of all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds as well as sexual orientations and gender identifications can be, and are, impacted by sexual assault. Heightened risk factors include being female, members of 2SLGBQTIA+ communities, women with disabilities, women of colour, Indigenous women, women living in poverty, use of drugs, use of alcohol, and attending mass events such as festivals and concerts. Research suggests these risk factors increase during the first weeks at university, around the end of October, the beginning of July, and New Years Eve. 
Sexual assault is most often committed by strangers. Someone known to the complainant, including acquaintances, dating partners and common-law or married partners, commit approximately 82 per cent of sexual assaults.
Sexual assault is most likely to happen outside in dark, dangerous places. The majority of sexual assaults happen in private spaces like in a residence or private home. 
If an individual does not report to the police, it wasn't sexual assault Just because a victim doesn't report the assault doesn't mean it didn't happen. Fewer than one in 10 victims report the crime to the police.
It's not a big deal to have sex with a person while they are drunk, stoned or passed out. If a person is unconscious or incapable of consenting due to the use of alcohol or drugs, they cannot legally give consent. Without consent it is sexual assault. 
If a person chose to drink or use drugs, it isn't sexual assault. This is a prominent misconception about sexual assault. No one can consent while drunk or incapacitated.
If the person didn't scream or fight back, it probably wasn't sexual assault. When a person is sexually assaulted they may become paralyzed with fear and be unable to fight back. They may be fearful that if they struggle, the assault may be more violent. If the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may be incapacitated or unable to resist.
If the person didn't say no, it must be their fault. People who commit sexual assault are trying to gain power and control over the other person. They want to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the other person to say no. A person does not need to actually say the word "no" to make it clear they did not want to participate.  Consent is not the absence of 'no', it is a clear, enthusiastic, freely given 'yes'.
If a person isn't crying or visibly upset, it probably wasn't a serious sexual assault. Every person responds to the trauma of sexual assault differently. They may cry or be calm. They may be silent or very angry. Their reaction is not an indicator of their experience. It is important not to judge a person by the response to the assault.
If someone does not have obvious physical injuries, like cuts or bruises, they probably weren't sexually assaulted. Lack of physical injury does not mean that a person wasn't sexually assaulted. The use of threats, weapons, or other coercive actions do not leave physical marks. They may have been unconscious or been otherwise incapacitated and therefore unable to provide consent.
If it really happened, the person would be able to easily recount all the facts in proper order. Shock, fear, embarrassment and distress can all impair memory. Many individuals attempt to minimize or forget the details of the assault as a method of coping with trauma. Memory loss is also common when alcohol and/or drugs are involved. 
Individuals lie and make up stories about being sexually assaulted; most reports of sexual assault turn out to be false. According to Statistics Canada, fewer than one in ten sexual assaults are reported to the police. Approximately two per cent of sexual assault reports are false. The number of false reports for sexual assault is very low. Sexual assault carries such a stigma that many people prefer not to report. 
Persons with disabilities don't get sexually assaulted. Research suggests heightened risk factors include living with activity limitations, living in poverty, being female, being Indigenous, being a member of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, and being between 15-24 years old. Those who live with activity limitations are over two times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than those who are able-bodied. 
A spouse or significant other cannot sexually assault their partner. Sexual assault can occur in a married or other intimate partner relationship. The truth is, sexual assault occurs any time there is not consent for sexual activity or sexual contact of any kind. Being in a relationship does not exclude the possibility of, nor justify, sexual assault. A person has the right to say 'no' at any point.
People who are sexually assaulted "ask for it"  by their provocative behaviour or dress. This statement couldn't be more hurtful or wrong. Nobody deserves to be sexually assaulted. Someone has deliberately chosen to be violent toward someone else; to not get consent. Nobody asks to be assaulted. Ever. No mode of dress, no amount of alcohol or drugs ingested, no matter what the relationship is between the individuals, sexual assault is always wrong.  Sexual assault is never okay and it is never your fault.
Sexual assault only happens to women. The majority of reported sexual assaults are committed against women by men, but people of all genders, from all backgrounds have been and can be assaulted. 
Sexual assault of males is rare. According to Statistics Canada, six per cent of males 15 years or older reported that they had experienced sexual assault. Barriers to reporting mean this number is likely higher, it only reflects the experience of those who have reported the assault. 
If you got aroused you must have enjoyed it.

It is normal for your body to react to physical stimulation. Just because you became physically aroused does not mean that you liked it, or wanted it or consented in any way. If you experienced some physical pleasure, this does not take away the fact that sexual assault happened or the effects or feelings following an assault.

Adapted from Colleges Ontario