Definition of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is defined as an act of domination, humiliation, violence and abuse of power.
To sexually assault is to impose attitudes, remarks and sexual gestures against a person’s will or without their consent. It can be done by using blackmail, intimidation, manipulation, threats, privileges, rewards, physical, psychological or verbal violence.

Sexual assault can take many different forms. It is any type of sexual act, with or without physical contact, committed by an individual without the consent of the targeted person or, in cases such as children, by manipulation or threat.

It is an act of subjugating another person to their own desires through abuse of power, the use of force or coercion, or under implicit or explicit threat. Sexual assault violates fundamental rights, including physical and psychological integrity and personal security.

Sexual assault, what is it?

More information:

Sexual violence, or even sexual assault, are general terms that encompass all forms of violence, physical or psychological, which manifest themselves in a sexual way or which target the sexuality of others.

This violence can take different forms including sexual assault, rape, incest, childhood sexual abuse, sexual harassment, indecent exposure or exposure of a sexual nature. It also includes rape as a weapon of war in armed conflicts, degrading sexual images, pimping, voyeurism, sexual harassment on the Internet, forced marriages, genital mutilation, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, etc...

Most of the sexual violence is codified in the Canadian Criminal Code and those found guilty of these crimes are liable to prison terms.

Above all, sexual assault is an act of domination and power committed against people without their consent. Whether or not the victim has been physically assaulted, they are always hurt in their dignity because of degrading words and attitudes. This violence has devastating effects on the lives of those who are victims of it and on those of their loved ones.

Gender-based and systemic violence

In Quebec, as in several other Western countries, feminist groups and non-governmental organizations have been fighting since the early 1970s to have this violence recognized, to change the laws, to break the silence and to raise public awareness of this problem which remains a taboo. In Canada, several legislative changes have advanced the cause.

 Sexual violence is sexist since, in most cases, men inflict it on women and children (girls and boys). Gender-based violence is discriminatory violence committed against a person based on their gender, in this case because they are female. This gender-based violence targets the control and coercion of women. It is also a systemic violence since it is a social problem and not an individual one.

According to the Council on the Status of Women, violence against women is the extreme expression of inequalities between women and men. The Government of Quebec and the Council on the Status of Women recognize violence against women as systemic, gender-based violence and a violation of human rights.

In Canada, sexual assault is when one partner does not give consent to sexual touching.
Sexual touching can be, for example: a kiss, a caress or a sexual relation.