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What is “sexualized violence”?

Sexualized violence is an overarching term used to describe any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality. Sexualized violence encompasses all forms of unwanted sexual contact as well as name calling, sexual humiliation, and sexual targeting.

Canadian law does not include the whole of sexualized violence into the definition of sexual assault. The Canadian Law of Sexual Assault is described as any unwanted sexual touching, including any type of touching of the body, kissing, and oral and anal sex. 

Common Misconceptions about Sexual Assault
Misconception Reality
It could never happen to me. There is potential for any woman to be sexually assaulted: females of every age, race, social class, religion, occupation, education level and physical description are assaulted.
Most sexual assaults occur as a “spur of the moment” act, in a dark alley, by a stranger. Most sexual assaults are planned, and about 80% occur at home. Often the offender is a relative, friend, neighbour or other acquaintance of the woman.
Sexual assault is primarily a sexual crime. Sexual assault is a physical assault that is acted out sexually. More than half of women who have been assaulted have also been physically injured during the attack.
Women secretly want to be raped. Women who fantasize about sexual assault usually think of it only as aggressive sex. Their fantasies do not reflect what rape really is: a violent, terrorizing and humiliating assault.
Sexual assault happens only to young women. Women of all ages from infancy to old age are survivors of sexual assault. But women between the ages of 14 and 24 are the most vulnerable to assault.
Women with disabilities are less likely to be assaulted. Women with disabilities are more vulnerable in our society and are therefore more easily accessible to assailants.
A wife cannot charge her husband with sexual assault. Until January 1983, this was true. It is now against the law for one spouse to force the other to engage in sexual activity.




Sexualized violence is a complex issue that is often not talked about. Click here for some answers to common questions about this issue.