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What does consent mean?

Consent, by definition, means giving permission for something to happen, or agreeing to do something. In this context, consent means to give permission to engage in a physical or sexual act. If it’s not an active, continuous, clear, enthusiastic "yes," then it’s a "no."


Is consent just about sex?

Consent is about so much more than just sex. Consent is mandatory for sex, but also in other physical activities like holding hands and cuddling. Consent is needed in everyday life. Before you do something like touch a pregnant person's belly, give someone a hug or feel a person’s hair, you need to ask. You never know if something you do to someone’s body will make them feel uncomfortable, even if it seems harmless to you.


Does a revealing outfit mean that a person is asking for sexual contact?

Don’t confuse clothing with consent. No one gives permission to engage in sexual contact by what they choose to wear. A person must actively give consent through their words or actions. Sexual violence can happen to anyone, whether they’re wearing sweats or a bodycon mini.


Does spending money on somebody obligate them to have sex?

No, absolutely not. You are never obligated to have any form of sexual contact. Doing favours, buying meals or drinks does not entitle anyone to anything. Getting physical is something that must be mutually agreed upon, whether it’s grinding on the dance floor or fooling around with a long-time partner. No one owes sexual contact.


What is a survivor?

A survivor, in this context, is someone who has experienced sexual and/or gendered violence. Some people choose to identify as survivors instead of victims.


What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is any unwanted physical or psychological sexual act or comment, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality. This violence takes different forms including sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, incest, childhood sexual abuse, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent or sexualized exposure, degrading sexual imagery, voyeurism, cyber harassment, human trafficking and sexual exploitation.


What is gendered violence?

Gendered violence is any form of behaviour—including psychological, physical and sexual behaviour—that is based on an individual’s gender, and is intended to control, humiliate or harm the individual. This form of violence is most commonly directed at women and girls, and also often happens to the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Does sexual assault only happen to women?

No. While statistics show that survivors are most often women and trans people, sexual violence can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, age, race, ability, etc.


Are perpetrators usually strangers?

No. In fact, most perpetrators assault people they know. The idea that most sexual violence happens outside with a stranger in the night is a myth. Sexual violence is most often committed by acquaintances, friends, family or romantic partners of the victim.


What if the perpetrator is someone I know?

People’s responses to gendered violence varies according to the ties they may have with the perpetrator—everyone is unique and all of the different ways survivors react are valid. Incidents of intimate partner violence or acquaintance rape or assault are never the survivor’s fault, whether or not the perpetrator is a friend or more. For someone to talk to, click here.


How do I tell someone that I have been sexually assaulted?

There’s no right or wrong way to disclose. While it can be extremely difficult to disclose that you have experienced sexual or gendered violence, know that you’re safe to confide in another person. The person you choose can be a counsellor, doctor, friend, family member, or anyone else you feel comfortable and safe in your relationship with. You can share as little or as much as you feel comfortable doing. You can choose whatever words you want to describe what happened, how you feel or what you want to do about it. For resources click here and for supports (in Brantford, KW and beyond) click here.

What if people think I'm lying about being sexually assaulted?

The number of false reports of sexual assault is very low, consistent with the number of false reports for other crimes in Canada. Unfortunately, some people don’t know or believe that. Sexual violence has carried a stigma over time and this is a part of society that needs to change. You can always rely on the support networks provided for a safe, confidential space. You will be treated with respect and dignity. You have the right to confide in whomever you choose and the right to be believed.


If my friend has been sexually assaulted, can I do something about it?

The first thing you need to do is be there for your friend. Have conversations, ask how they feel, tell them you believe them, and let them know that you are there to help in any way you can. Let your friend know that you can offer a safe space free of judgment. Validate their feelings. There are other resources that you can direct your friend to, so they can begin to feel safe and heal from their experience. For more help on handling disclosures, click here.


If I don't report to the police, is it still sexual assault?

Yes. While many survivors choose not to report incident(s) of sexual assault to the police, it’s still a crime and it has real effects. Note: choosing not to report is a completely valid choice. (CONTENT WARNING: graphic depictions of courts & victim blaming) Here's an article from a Canadian magazine about the Canadian justice system & sexual violence, and a resource about barriers to reporting from Everyday Feminist.

Is sexual violence only physical?

No. Stalking or cyberstalking, distribution of intimate visual recordings or images, and voyeurism are all examples of non-physical forms of sexual violence. These acts are just as valid and serious as physical acts of sexual violence.


Can sexual violence happen in relationships?

Sexual violence can occur in any form of relationship—from parental to romantic relationships, including long-term relationships or marriage. A person may have an intimate relationship with someone, but this alone never counts as consent.

What's the deal with WLU's sexual and gendered violence policy?

Policies are tough, so we are here to help. Check out this page to understand the SV policy.

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