Sexual violence can happen to anyone, no matter their age or gender. It can cause great pain for survivors and make them feel deeply ashamed.
Sexual violence includes sexual assault and harassment about a person's sexuality, gender identity or expression. Sexual violence can be physical, verbal or psychological. In addition to touching someone else without consent, attempts and threats are also acts of sexual violence.
Anything sexual that someone else does to your body without your consent is sexual assault. It is never okay for someone to hurt you or force you to do more than you agree to do.
Sexual violence can happen to anyone.
Survivors are never responsible for acts of sexual violence committed against them.
If you have been a victim of sexual violence, remember:
- it is not your fault;
- you are not alone; and
- there is support available to you.
Consent means saying yes. It means agreeing to a sexual activity and being an active and willing participant. Any sexual activity that takes place without a participant's consent is illegal.
- Someone cannot give consent if they are unconscious. If someone loses consciousness during a consensual sexual encounter, the other person needs to stop immediately.
- If someone is impaired by alcohol or drugs, they cannot give consent.
- If someone is mentally or cognitively impaired in a way that affects their ability to consent, they cannot give proper consent.
- Anyone gets to stop participating in sexual activity whenever they want. No matter what, the other person is required to stop as soon as someone withdraws their consent. It is okay for a participant to change their mind.
- Everyone gets to choose what they will accept. Someone can agree to some sexual activities but not others. Everyone gets to set limits and have them respected.
- No one has the authority to engage with someone sexually without their consent, including their own partners, husbands and wives.
- Sexual activity is never an obligation. Nobody owes anyone sex for any reason, and sex must never be an expectation or a condition.
- If someone tries to convince another person to participate in sexual activity by using guilt, or obligation to persuade them, this is emotional manipulation and it is wrong.
- It cannot be assumed that someone has consented to a sexual exchange. It doesn't matter what someone is wearing, or what they may have agreed to in the past.
- Sometimes some people will freeze during a sexual encounter and lose the ability to say no or to push the other person away. This is a normal response that can happen when a person gets scared. It's not your fault if you freeze. If someone stops participating in a sexual encounter, they have withdrawn their consent and the other person needs to stop.
It is also important to note that laws regarding consent also apply to workers in the sex industry. Sex industry workers have all of the same rights and legal protections regarding consent as non-sex industry workers.