Frequently Asked Questions

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted act of a sexual nature imposed by one or more persons on another person of any age and any sex. The experience of sexual assault has different manifestations for each person. It is a severe emotional and physical violation. Following such an experience it is natural to feel a whole range of emotions: fear, guilt, humiliation, dissociation, numbness, embarrassment, lack of trust, withdrawal, anger, helplessness, hatred, isolation, revenge, anxiety, sadness, confusion, shame/self-blame, powerlessness, depression, distraction. These emotions are a part of the trauma experienced by the survivor of sexual assault. The survivor may experience one, a combination, or all of these emotions at the same time. These emotions may come and go over time or the survivor may totally suppress the painful memories. The initial response to the survivor and the manner in which they are attended to, will do much to restore some of the survivor’s emotional balance. Recognize that these are normal responses to an extraordinary experience. The sexual assault is never the fault of the survivor – the assailant is 100% responsible.

What is date rape?

In 85% of teen sexual assaults the survivor knows the assailant. The assailant may be a date, friend or acquaintance. In any encounter, the male needs to accept responsibility to control his behaviour and accept the sexual limitations put on the encounter by the female. It has become the female’s responsibility to clearly define these limitations.

Tell the person you are with what your limits are. Make it clear how far you will go sexually. If something is happening that you don’t like be firm about wanting to stop. Your silence may be interpreted as permission to continue. “STOP!” “NO!” “I DON’T LIKE THIS!” are pretty clear indications of how you feel.

What is a date rape drug?

Rohypnol (“Roofies”) and other sedating drugs are used as “date rape drugs”. Rohypnol is a very strong tranquilizer that starts to work 10 to 30 minutes after ingesting. The following effects can last 2 to 12 hours: drowsiness, confusion, memory loss, blackouts, muscle relaxation, slowing of physical movements, euphoria, nausea, unconsciousness. When mixed with alcohol, Rohypnol can cause death. Rohypnol is a small white pill that is undetectable when mixed in a drink. Some manufacturers have started producing Rohypnol with a blue dye that will change the colour of your drink when added. To protect yourself against date rape drugs always get your own drink and never leave your drink unattended. There may be more in your drink than you bargained for. If you do walk away from your drink, don’t return to it, be safe and get yourself a new drink.

Are men sexually assaulted?

The Badgely Report(1985) on the sexual abuse of children suggests that 1/3 of all males will experience sexual abuse or assault at some time in their lives. The general public and health professionals perceive sexual assault as a female problem. Most adult victims of sexual assault are female and their assailants are usually male, while most child victims of sexual assault are male and their assailants, while usually male, can be female. Men and male children are less likely to report sexual assault and are less likely to be believed than female survivors. Male survivors come from every socio-economic class, race, age, religion, cultural background, and sexual orientation. The psychological effects on men are similar to the psychological effects experienced by women.

Who can provide emotional support after a sexual assault?

It isn’t easy choosing a person for emotional support. It is best to choose someone (family, friend, crisis worker) who can provide the following:

  • confidentiality
  • unconditional support for decisions
  • non-judgemental attitude (this was not your fault)
  • dependable and available when needed
  • advocate with police, social workers, forensic examiners, lawyers

In north-eastern Manitoba the sexual assault survivor will be supported by trained sexual assault workers at the Pinawa Hospital, Pine Falls Health Complex and the Beausejour District Hospital.

If supporting someone who has been sexually assaulted the survivor needs to hear “I believe you”, “I’m glad you told me”, “It is not your fault”, “I will help you”. If you are prepared to support this person but are unaware of the services available in the area then call a resource person and get the answers and support you need. Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre can provide the survivor and supporter with information on sexual assault trauma and regional resources for healing.

Should you report to police after a sexual assault?

Except in the case of spousal sexual assault, the final decision to report belongs to the sexual assault survivor (in the case of spousal sexual assault, the police have an obligation to proceed with an investigation if they are contacted). The survivor is the one who must deal with the legal procedures and emotional backlash that follows a decision to report. A decision about reporting the sexual assault is a difficult one and must be made soon after the sexual assault. Forensic evidence collected within 72 hours of an assault will be prime evidence in the case against the perpetrator. After 72 hours forensic evidence may be irretrievable.

The following legal choices are available to all survivors (with the exception of spousal sexual assault):

  • they may do nothing
  • they may have a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK) done with police involvement. It is necessary to report to police to qualify for survivor’s compensation.
  • they may give a statement to the police, not have a SAEK done and request the police not charge the offender at this time
  • the may give a statement to police, have a SAEK done and request the police not charge the offender at this time
  • they may refuse the SAEK and still request police involvement
  • third party report or anonymous report to the police, on their behalf, may be an option.
  • All sexual assault survivors are encouraged to seek medical attention regardless of whether they intend to report to police.

Where can you receive medical attention following a sexual assault?

In the North Eastman region there are three North Eastman Health hospitals capable of providing the sexual assault survivor with the medical attention required. The survivor may also choose to see his/her family physician. If a forensic examination is required then it can also be done at one of the three NEHA hospitals. Forensic examinations on minors under 17 years of age are done at the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg. A forensic examination is a search for evidence such as semen, hair and skin samples from the perpetrator. Forensic evidence can be collected up to 72 hours after the assault. After this period forensic evidence deteriorates and is lost.

The survivor may or may not have obvious physical or psychological injuries following a sexual assault. Regardless of injuries, we recommend that the survivor seek medical attention for the following reasons:

  • the emotional impact of sexual assault will be normalized and validated
  • information on sexual assault trauma will be provided
  • hidden injuries can be detected and the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases can be dealt with
  • if the survivor decides to press charges down the road, medical and forensic evidence can be collected while it still exists
  • resources and referrals for sexual assault crisis programs will be provided
  • follow-up visits will detect pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases.

What is violence in relationships?

Violence in relationships can take the form of physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

You are a victim of physical abuse if you are subjected to slapping, kicking, hitting, hair pulling, spitting, biting, pushing, or beatings with objects.

You are a victim of sexual abuse if you experience forced or coerced sex, unwanted watching of sexual activity, sexual accusations and unwanted sexual acts.

You are a victim of emotional abuse if your partner subjects you to extreme possessiveness and jealousy, name calling, put downs, manipulation and control, isolation from friends and family, threats of suicide, threats against your life or to harm loved ones and pets, destruction of property, stalking.

Physical, sexual and emotional abuse are not part of a healthy relationship. People in healthy relationships spend time together and time apart, trust one another, are friends, are respectful, share common interests, communicate openly and honestly, and are sensitive to each others feelings.

Is there compensation for victims of crime?

The compensation for Victims of Crime Program provides compensation for personal injury or death resulting from certain crimes occurring within Manitoba. If you have been injured as a result of a crime, or are an immediate family member of a person who was killed due to a crime, you may be entitled to compensation. You may also be compensated if you were injured while helping a police officer or while trying to prevent a crime. To apply for compensation, there is no need for the offender to have been caught, but there must be a report made to the police. To apply for compensation, you must complete and return an Application for Compensation form. You should complete and submit your application as soon as possible. To be eligible for compensation, you must file within one year after the incident occurred. Application forms are available at any victim services office.