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Self-Care and Support for Survivors of Sexual Violence

If you have been a victim of sexual violence, ensuring you are safe and supported is the first step. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

If you do not feel comfortable contacting the police, you can reach out to people you trust. You or someone acting on your behalf can also reach out to any of these resources:

If you need to take some time off from work you may be entitled to up to five days paid leave and five days unpaid leave from work.

Self-Care and Healing

Remember, Whatever You are Experiencing is Valid

You can expect to feel many things if you are healing from a sexual assault. Whatever you are feeling is a valid and normal reaction to what happened to you.

You might:

  • feel rage, terror, grief, numbness or sorrow;
  • feel confused;
  • have mood swings;
  • not be able to control your emotions;
  • feel numb or withdrawn;
  • have trouble concentrating;
  • feel afraid to be alone;
  • not trust people;
  • feel disconnected from your body;
  • feel ashamed or humiliated;
  • take on a false sense of responsibility for what happened;
  • have trouble being motivated; or
  • not know how you feel.

Everyone Reacts Differently to Sexual Assault

Survivors have a wide spectrum of reactions following an assault:

  • Some survivors may want to pretend the assault didn't happen, while others may want to reach out to their perpetrator in an effort to erase what has happened.
  • Some may be unable to remember all of the details of the assault, while others may have memories of the assault that keep coming to mind.
  • Some survivors might find intimacy difficult, while others may not.
  • Some people may feel like they are under intense mental and emotional distress, and others may feel nothing at all.

Whatever reaction a survivor experiences is normal. The most important thing is that they seek out healthy and positive ways to process and heal from their experience. Within a few months of being assaulted, many survivors begin to feel some improvement.

After a few months, if you are still suffering a lot of emotional distress, have signs of depression, or are regularly experiencing traumatic memories, you should consider seeking help from a counsellor if you have not already done so.

Sexual assault can have lasting effects like post-traumatic stress disorder. A counsellor can help you process your trauma and improve your mental and emotional health.

Comfort and Support

There are a number of ways that survivors can find comfort and support following an assault, after they are out of immediate danger, and are able to begin their healing process.

Talking to Someone

Many survivors find that counselling and therapy can be invaluable on their healing journey. Counselling and therapy can take many forms. Some services are offered to the public free of charge; other services may have fees which might be fully or partially covered by private health insurance. You can also find resources, forums and support online. When looking for a counsellor or a therapist, look for someone who you connect with who helps you feel safe, heard and respected.

Talking to people you love and trust can also be a source of great comfort, support and healing. If you are comfortable doing so, let the people around you know how you need to be supported. There may be times when you want to discuss the assault and need someone to confide in, and there might be other times when you don't want to talk about it at all and need help taking your mind off of it. Seek support and comfort from loved ones who will respect your boundaries, and remember at all times that you have the authority to navigate the conversation however you choose.

Becoming intimate again after an assault can be complicated. If you are in an intimate relationship, be open with your partner about what your needs are. It can be helpful for your partner to do some research that allows them to understand how to support you while you are healing. It may also be helpful for you to seek counselling or therapy together as a couple.

Some Examples of Self-Care that Have Worked for Others

Being kind to yourself

  • If you have trouble being kind to yourself, think of someone who loves you and has given you guidance in the past – maybe a grandparent, an aunt or a favourite teacher – and imagine what they might say to you.
  • Be very patient and gentle with yourself.
  • Your body needs kindness too. Do things you enjoy, like jogging or taking baths or resting.

Making time for yourself

  • Set aside some time to take care of yourself.
  • Examples might include hobbies, art, personal fitness, breathing exercises, and spiritual practices.

Remembering to eat well

  • It may be hard to think about groceries and eating well, but your body needs you to take care of it.
  • Eating nutritious foods may boost your energy and help you feel better.

Keeping physically active

  • Being active may provide energy and help clear your mind. There are many forms of physical activity – a walk in the park, working out, a yoga class, playing a team sport and working in the garden are just a few options you may want to consider.
  • Do what feels right for you.

Accepting help from others

  • Being connected to other people and a community can be one of the most important steps on the path to recovery. When others ask if they can help, it is an act of self-care to allow yourself to accept it.

Resources for Survivors

Where to Get Help

Province wide resources

Victim Services

Following your assault, you may want to connect with a victim services program or a sexual assault centre for support.

Victim services programs ensure that a range of services are available to meet the needs of survivors of crime through both the justice and law enforcement systems, as well as community organizations. These services include crisis intervention, information, support and referrals to other specialized programs and services.

If you choose to report to the police, you may be eligible for compensation through the Victims Compensation Program. In the case of sexual assault, you are eligible to apply within two years of the date that the sexual assault was reported to the police. You may receive compensation for loss of income; counselling; ambulance costs; medical or dental bills; and damage to, or loss of, clothing.

Confidential Health Information

HealthLine 811 is a 24-hour confidential telephone line that offers education, support, and advice for health, mental health and addictions issues. It is available to anyone in Saskatchewan.

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