General Information about Sexual Assault

Childhood Sexual Abuse

Childhood Sexual Abuse includes any form of unwanted or coerced sexual touch including but not limited to fondling, exposure, exploitation, attempted or actual sexual assaults towards a young adult or child. A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity, this child is never to blame when sexual abuse occurs.  Childhood Sexual Abuse is a betrayal of trust that often affects a person’s ability to connect and trust others.

Childhood Sexual Abuse can happen to anyone regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation or cultural and religious beliefs. Most often Childhood Sexual Abuse is perpetrated by someone you know and trust such as a parent, sibling or extended family member, another child or young person, babysitter, coach, family friend, neighbour, teacher or stranger. Although statistics tells us that the majority of abusers are heterosexual males, females can also be abusers. Some of the tactics used by perpetrators include, but are not limited to secret keeping, under the guise of “play games”, force, bribery, trickery and/or blackmail.

The fear and trauma experienced during Childhood Sexual Abuse does not stop when the abuse stops. Many survivors deal with the effects of abuse well into adulthood and often report that the long term effects play out in many aspects of their lives such as in relationships with family, friends and partners, feelings of shame, and anger, low self-esteem and body image, addictions and self-harming behaviour and much more.

Sexual abuse IS about power and control and NOT sex, regardless of what you may have been told.

Historical Assault

Historical sexual assault differs from recent sexual assault in that it may have happened at any point and time in your past. If you have never disclosed a historical assault you are not alone. Many of the women that we see during counselling sessions are seeking help for the first time even though the assault may have happened many years ago. It is never too late to seek support

You may feel that you have no legal options available to you due the length of time that may have passed. However this is NOT the case. There is NO statute of limitations on Sexual Assault. You may want to contact a local rape crisis centre or police station to discuss your case and what you can expect.

Recent Sexual Assault

Recent sexual assault includes any unwanted sexual touching up to and including rape. Recent sexual assault is often defined as an assault that has happened within the last year.

If you have been recently sexually assaulted you can receive medical care from your family doctor, a clinic or the Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Care Centre (DVSAC) at Lakeridge Health Oshawa. For more information on the procedures please visit our section on getting medical care.

A recent sexual assault can bring up a variety of reactions and feelings. You are an individual and therefore your reactions will be unique to you. Some of the feelings or reactions you may experience may include; but not limited to:

  • Disbelief that this has happened
  • Emotional shock or a feeling of numbness
  • Embarrassment or shame
  • Depression
  • Guilt or self-blame/blame
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Flashbacks, nightmares and/or night terrors
  • Anxiety
  • Dissociations
  • Unhealthy coping behaviours

Try to remember that regardless of the circumstances you are not to blame. Everyone has the right to make choices about their own body. It doesn’t matter what you wore, who you were with, whether you were under the influence, or if you began sexual relations and then decided to stop. It’s your body and you are not to blame.

Male Survivors

Boys and men can also be victims of sexual assault, and recent statistics indicate that up to one out of five men report having had unwanted direct sexual contact. Men and boys may encounter additional challenges/difficulties due to social attitudes, social constructs and stereotypes about men and masculinity.

All survivors of sexual violence have individual reactions to sexual assault. Yet, there are some common thoughts and experiences that many survivors have include but not limited to:

  • Confusion about sexual identity
  • Difficulties expressing themselves
  • Difficulties with sexual functioning
  • Difficulties with intimacy
  • Anger, shame, anxiety, depression, fear and guilt
  • Unhealthy coping behaviours

Support and referrals for males is available through our 24 Hour Crisis and Support line at (905) 668-9200.