Sexual assault is any act of a sexual nature performed without the consent of the other person(s). This includes a range of behaviours, from unwanted kissing and touching to forced sexual intercourse (rape) and/or oral sex.
Alcohol (and other drugs) can be used by perpetrators of sexual assault in two ways:
- By providing alcohol to someone with the intention of making them vulnerable
- By targeting someone who is already vulnerable due to intoxication
Sexual assault is not about love or lust; it is about one person exerting power and control over another. Sexual assault can affect anyone. It can happen within marriage, common-law, dating or acquaintance relationships, or be perpetrated by an unknown person. Most survivors know the person who sexually assaults them. Those who have experienced acquaintance sexual assault often find it difficult to define their experience as sexual assault, or disclose what happened to them.
Sexual assault is a criminal offence in Canada under sections 271 to 273 of the Criminal Code of Canada.