Sexual violence is a broad term used to describe unwanted or unwelcome sexual contact, actions, or comments. It includes, but is not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, sexual assault, the attempt or threat of sexual assault.

It can occur between peers, family members, friends, dating partners, marriage partners, acquaintances, colleagues, teachers and students, clergy and parishioners, etc.

80% of the time the person experiencing sexual violence knows their perpetrator

Who experiences sexual violence?

Anyone, any age, any gender. That said, certain demographics are at higher risk of experiencing sexual violence. Those most at risk include girls and women age 15-24, women of colour, immigrant women, Indigenous girls and women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and girls and women with disabilities.

Sexual violence is a gendered issue because most perpetrators of sexual violence are male, and girls and women are at higher risk of being victimized.

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • 7 in 10 people who experience family violence are women and girls.

These statistics hardly vary depending on context ; meaning that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men in your faith community or church have experienced sexual violence.

We are concerned for abuse of all whether male or female, adult or children.

 What’s the difference between the various forms of sexual violence?

Sexual harassment: occurs when an individual is subjected to unwanted sexual advances, gestures, or comments. It can take place in offices, schools, stores, work places, on the bus, at social gatherings, in churches, in community settings. It may include:

  • sexually suggestive remarks, jokes, or gestures,
  • displaying degrading pictures or objects
  • unwanted physical contact such as touching, pinching, patting, and/or sexual demands.
  • Comments that demean or disprect LGBTQ persons
  • grooming actions (giving of expensive gifts, situating oneself to be alone with the individual being targeted)

For more information on workplace sexual harassment, contact the Canadian Human Rights Commission

Sexual assault: are sexual acts committed WITHOUT a person’s consent or against a person’s will. It includes:

  • Non-consensual vaginal or anal intercourse (rape)
  • Forcing a person to perform a sexual activity; e.g. oral sex
  • Unwanted sexual touching
  • Attempted rape

Sexual abuse: is any type of unwanted sexual contact.  Most often the victim is violated repeatedly by a person who they should be able to trust. When the undesired sexual action occurs only once it is typically called sexual assault. Any type of sexual activity between an older individual and a minor (under the age of consent) is understood as child sexual abuse. It can include:

  • Unwanted sexual touching
  • Child pornography
  • Forced intercourse
  • Exhibitionism (showing of genitals)
  • Voyeurism (watching an individual in intimate acts such as getting undressed)
  • Unwanted exposure to pornographic content

Sexual exploitation: is defined as the abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust for sexual purposes; this includes profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another. Generally, the perpetrator will take advantage of an individual’s need and vulnerability for their own gain. In includes:

  • Trafficking of humans
  • Non-consensual posting or sharing of sexual images or videos
  • Offering something (money, opportunities, good reviews or grades) to an individual in exchange for sexual favors.
  • Coercing an individual to share sexual images or videos
  • Child pornography
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