If you have experienced sexual violence you are not alone and there is help available. Across Canada there are sexual assault services that can provide information, advocacy, and counselling. Locate resources in your community.
Sexual Assault Centres
There are a range of services sexual assault centres can offer survivors, which vary depending on the centre and the community. These services are generally provided free of charge and may be available to survivors as well as those impacted by the sexual assault of someone close to them.
Many sexual assault centres operate a free and confidential crisis line. Crisis line counsellors can offer emotional support and listen to you. They can help you explore what you need to cope after sexual assault, and can provide information about sexual assault trauma, reporting options and the legal rights of survivors, and referrals to other resources in the community.
Individual counselling programs or support groups may be available.
Sexual assault centres can provide advocacy for survivors in the medical and criminal justice systems.
Sexual assault Advocates may accompany survivors to medical appointments, police statements, or court appearances related to sexual assault. They can provide emotional support and help survivors advocate for their rights in these settings.
Advocates are knowledgeable about legal and medical options for survivors and can help you navigate making these choices. Advocates may assist survivors with in accessing their rights under the Victims Bill of Rights, such as compensation.
Even if you don’t seem to be physically injured, it is strongly encouraged to seek medical attention following a sexual assault. A medical practitioner can address concerns around sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pregnancy and emergency contraception, and other forms of Post-Exposure Prophylaxis.
You can have a support person of your choice such as a friend, family member, or Advocate accompany you throughout the medical care process.
A sexual assault forensic exam is an exam that has two purposes: to attend to any medical concerns the survivor may have following the assault, and to collect evidence for the purpose of a criminal investigation. You can still access medical care without involving the police.
If possible, avoid bathing, showering, brushing teeth, eating or drinking before a forensic exam. If you already have, that is okay and you can still be examined. Some communities offer a Forensic Hold that allow you to store the evidence for up to one year which gives time to consider your reporting options.
A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a nurse that has specialized training to provide information and choices around medical care and reporting options to anyone who has been sexually assaulted. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners can provide forensic exams to collect evidence for the purpose of a criminal investigation. SANEs can refer survivors to counselling and other resources to help heal after sexual assault. Contact your local sexual assault centre for information about SANE programs near you.