YOU ARE NOT ALONE
We want you to know that what happened to you is not your fault.
1 in 3 Canadian women and 1 in 6 Canadian men experience sexual violence.
ARE YOU IN IMMEDIATE DANGER? PLEASE CALL 9-1-1 TO GET IMMEDIATE HELP!
Sexual assault is ANY UNWANTED ACT of a sexual nature imposed on another person WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT.
Sexual violence crosses all social boundaries, affects people of every age, gender identity, and cultural background, and has devastating impacts on the lives of survivors and their families as well as the well-being of society.
We do not operate a crisis support line.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or just need someone to talk to, please contact:
I've been sexually assaulted recently.
The absence of “no” does not mean ‘yes’ – the person initiating sexual activity needs to take reasonable steps to establish and maintain ongoing consent. You have the right to withdraw consent at any time during sexual activity.
Consenting to one kind of sexual activity does not automatically mean consenting to another. All sexual activity without consent is a criminal offence, regardless of age.
PEIRSAC offers individual and/or group support and counselling for individuals who have experienced a sexual assault.
YOUR FEELINGS ARE VALID
This is NOT your fault!
Sometimes survivors feel it was their fault or that they somehow contributed to their assault. Sexual assault is never the fault of the survivor. It does not matter who you were with, where you were, or what you were doing or wearing. Any sexual activity without your consent is a criminal offence.
Sexual assault is a traumatic, deeply personal experience. There is no right or wrong way to feel or to respond. Reactions can be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual -- or any combination of them.
The hours immediately after a sexual assault can be very confusing, and making decisions is difficult. Being able to talk to someone you trust can be an important step in your process of recovery. We invite you to try reaching out to someone you know and trust or talking to us - we are here to support.
YOUR SAFETY COMES FIRST
GET TO A SAFE PLACE.
Go somewhere you feel secure and protected. Call 911 if you think you're still in danger, at risk, and/or injured. If possible, call someone you trust and ask them if they can be with you.
GET MEDICAL CARE.
If you have experienced a sexual assault, you may have internal or external injuries. There may also be some risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.
PEI Emergency Department health care providers are trained to provide Enhanced Emergency Sexual Assault Services (EESAS), to treat sexual assault victims/survivors with respect, compassion and belief, and you will be provided services to your health care needs with confidentiality. Please note that not all Emergency Departments are open 24 hours a day, especially in rural locations, but they will provide transportation from their hospital to another open Emergency Department and back at no cost to you.
REPORTING AND RAPE KIT OPTIONS
If you are thinking about reporting and having a rape kit done, sooner is better than later but even after 72 hours some evidence may still be collectible from a person’s body and clothing. You may be asked by a health care provider if you want to report to police, but you are not required to report if you do not want to.
If you are not sure about reporting and need some time to think about it, you can have evidence collected anonymously and stored up to one year – this is called the ‘Third Option.’ More details on how this works will be explained to you by the EESAS team at the hospital.
IF YOU NEED EMERGENCY SHELTER:
Anderson House provides emergency shelter for women and children who are in need of safety because of violence in their lives. Anderson House services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Anderson House provides confidential support and information.
Toll Free: 1-800-240-9894
Chief Mary Bernard Shelter is shelter for women in distress, women without housing, or for young mothers who need extra support. The shelter provides safe and supportive housing on Lennox Island to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous women and their children who are experiencing family violence.
Toll Free: 1-855-297-2332
Blooming House Shelter provides safe overnight shelter for women in the Charlottetown area, opened from 4 p.m. - to 8:00 a.m. 7 days a week.
LEGAL AND MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS:
RISE Program offers free legal resources and support to people 16 years old and older who have experienced sexual violence or workplace sexual harassment.
Up to four hours of free legal advice from a lawyer
Plain language legal information
Support navigating the justice system
Referrals to other community services
Phone or text: 902-218-6143
Victim Services assists victims of crime throughout their involvement in the criminal justice system. Assistance is available to victims of crime anywhere on Prince Edward Island. If you live off-Island and are victimized by a crime that occurred on PEI, you are also eligible for services.
Queen/Kings County: 902-368‑4582
Prince County: 902-888‑8218
Community Mental Health walk-in clinics offer immediate mental health support to help with anxiety, as well as life events causing stress and other mental health issues. No appointment or referral is required. You will be able to see a registered mental health therapist for 45-60 minutes. There is no cost for this service. Walk-in clinics are available throughout the province.
Locations and times are available by clicking here.
I've been sexually assaulted in the past.
There is no one correct path to healing and no timeline on getting support. PEIRSAC support services are available to anyone impacted by sexual assault as an adult (16+ years old) or childhood sexual abuse, even if it happened a long time ago.
INTERPERSONAL SEXUAL VIOLENCE (IPSV)
In 2011 in Canada, 17% sexual assaults against women were perpetrated by intimate partners. IPSV often occurs repeatedly within a relationship: One study found that 33% of abused women had been sexually assaulted by their partners 2 to 20 times; 31% had been sexually assaulted more than 20 times in their relationship (Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre, n.d.).
Consent is feeling:
Consent is not feeling:
The absence of “no” does not mean ‘yes’ – the person initiating sexual activity needs to take reasonable steps to establish and maintain ongoing consent. You have the right to withdraw consent at any time during sexual activity. Consenting to one kind of sexual activity does not automatically mean consenting to another.
CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE
The legal age of consent in Canada is 16 years old.
Exceptions: Persons under 16 years can have consensual sex with someone close in age:
12-13 year olds (two-year age difference)
14-15 year olds (five-year age difference)
These exceptions only apply if the older person is NOT in a position of authority or trust and there is no exploitation or dependency.
Individuals under 18 years old cannot consent to sex where:
The other consenting party is in a position of trust, authority or there is a dependency on that person.
There is an activity of exploitation (i.e pornography, sex work/prostitution).
When it comes to adults reporting or pursuing charges for sexual assault or childhood sexual abuse, the choice is completely yours. There is no time limit, so you can take your time to make this decision. However, everyone has a duty to report child abuse.
By law, you must contact Child Protection Services if you think a child is being abused or neglected by a parent or guardian.
I know someone who has been sexually assaulted.
It’s not always easy to know what to say when someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted, especially if they are a friend or family member.
For a survivor, disclosing to someone they care about can be very difficult, so we encourage you to be as supportive and non-judgemental as possible. Sometimes support means providing resources, such as how to: reach the National Sexual Assault Support Line (1-877-392-7583) or PEIRSAC’s Request for Service Line; seek medical attention; or report the crime to the police. But often listening is the best way to support a survivor.
Here are some specific phrases found to be supportive through a survivor’s healing process.
“I believe you. / It took a lot of courage to tell me about this.” It can be extremely difficult for survivors to come forward and share their story. They may feel ashamed, concerned that they won’t be believed, or worried they’ll be blamed. Leave any “why” questions or investigations to the experts—your job is to support this person. Be careful not to interpret calmness as a sign that the event did not occur—everyone responds to traumatic events differently. The best thing you can do is to believe them.
“It’s not your fault. / You didn’t do anything to deserve this.” Survivors may blame themselves, especially if they know the perpetrator personally. Remind the survivor, maybe even more than once, that they are not to blame.
“You are not alone. / I care about you and am here to listen or help in any way I can.” Let the survivor know that you are there for them and willing to listen to their story if they are comfortable sharing it. Assess if there are people in their life they feel comfortable going to, and remind them that there are service providers who will be able to support them as they heal from the experience.
“I’m sorry this happened. / This shouldn’t have happened to you.” Acknowledge that the experience has affected their life. Phrases like “This must be really tough for you,” and, “I’m so glad you are sharing this with me,” help to communicate empathy.
There’s no timetable when it comes to recovering from sexual violence. If someone trusted you enough to disclose the event to you, consider the following ways to show your continued support.
Avoid judgment. It can be difficult to watch a survivor struggle with the effects of sexual assault for an extended period of time. Avoid phrases that suggest they’re taking too long to recover such as, “You’ve been acting like this for a while now,” or “How much longer will you feel this way?”
Check in periodically. The event may have happened a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean the pain is gone. Check in with the survivor to remind them you still care about their well-being and believe their story.
Know your resources. You’re a strong supporter, but that doesn’t mean you’re equipped to manage someone else’s health. Become familiar with resources you can recommend to a survivor, like the National Sexual Assault Support Line (24/7) 1-877-392-7583 and the PEIRSAC Request for Service Line. PEIRSAC can also provide information on medical care and laws surrounding sexual assault.
If the survivor seeks medical attention or plans to report, offer to be there. Your presence can offer the support they need. If someone you care about is considering suicide, learn the warning signs, and offer help and support. For more information about suicide prevention please visit the Canada Suicide Prevention Service; call 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645 any time, day or night.
Encourage them to practice good self-care during this difficult time. Take a look at our RESOURCES page for more information.