About 20,000 sexual assaults are reported to the police each year in Canada. But since we know that less than 10% of sexual assaults are ever reported to police, particularly when a family member is involved, the actual number of sexual assaults that occur is much higher.
Most sexual assaults do not involve a stranger attacking in a dark alleyway or park, contrary to popular belief and portrayals of sexual assault in popular culture. Most cases of sexual assault are committed by someone close to the victim.
While young and otherwise vulnerable women are most likely to be sexually assaulted, sexual assault can happen to anyone, at any age, including men and women, boys and girls. It can happen on one single occasion, or it can happen repeatedly.
Sexual assault is a crime with serious consequences. It can cause anxiety, depression, destroy a person’s sense of self-worth, rob them of their sense of trust and security, ability to maintain relationships and enjoy sex, and can haunt a victim for the rest of their life.
If the abuse is frequent, committed by a family member, or involves sexual intercourse, the impact can be even stronger. Sexual abuse often makes victims feel alone, worthless, confused, and afraid.