Part of what we want to do here at Whisper is inform people. To give them the power of knowledge and to empower a victim or their family and friends. As a site dedicated to those affected by sexual assault, knowing what the difference between sexual assault and harassment is important, as well as understanding the different levels of assault, and knowing what is defined as consent. After reading these definitions, if you feel that you or someone you know is a victim of this crime, please contact your local authority or email us for help.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is any form of sexual activity without a person’s consent. It includes ANY unwanted contact that harms a person’s sexual integrity, including unwanted kissing, fondling or touching.
This is unwanted sexual behaviour, actions, or words. It may include
– making lewd comments or gestures to cause embarrassment
– displaying images of a sexual nature
– any other behaviours, actions or words that are: sexual in nature, likely to offend or humiliate, related to a person’s sex or sexuality or body part, repeated even after asked to stop.
The Criminal Code
There are 3 levels of sexual assault
Level 1: Any non-consensual sexual activity (kissing, touching, intercourse etc.) with no sign of physical injury. The penalty is a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Level 2: Sexual assault with a weapon causing bodily harm or multiple assailants. So this occurs when a person is sexually assaulted by someone who uses a weapon or threatens to cause harm to a third party or commits the assault with another person (multiple assailants). The maximum sentence is 14 years.
Level 3: Aggravated sexual assault involves maiming, disfiguring, brutally beating or endangering the life of another person while committing a sexual assault. The maximum sentence is life in prison.
Consent is the voluntary agreement of the parties to engage in sexual activity.
According to the criminal code, consent is NOT GIVEN
– if it’s given by someone else
– the person is incapable of consenting (below the age of consent, unconscious, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or sleeping)
– it’s an abuse of power or authority (ex. teacher, coach, babysitter)
– the person changes his or her mind
Age of Consent
Under the criminal code of Canada, the legal age of consent is 16 years of age. According to the Criminal Code of Canada a person under the age of 12 cannot consent to any kind of sexual activity.
The Criminal Code does provide a ‘close in age’ exception. For example, a 15 or 16 year old can consent to sexual activity with a partner as long as the partner is less than 5 years older.