Sexual violence refers to any form of unwanted sexual contact. That includes sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Sexual assault refers to unwanted sexual activity (e.g. touching, kissing someone without consent, rape). Sexual harassment can include comments, behaviour, and unwanted sexual contact. It can take the form of jokes, threats, and discriminatory remarks about someone’s gender or sexuality. It can happen in person or online.
Sexual violence is a form of gender-based violence rooted in gender inequality and injustice. It can happen between people in romantic relationships. It can happen in families, at work, and between friends and acquaintances and strangers. It often occurs in private places between people who know each other.
Anybody can experience this violence, no matter their background, identity, or circumstance. But women, girls, and gender-diverse people are at high risk of sexual violence. Some are at even higher risk due to the additional discrimination and barriers they face. This includes women with disabilities, Indigenous women, and women who are homeless or underhoused. Those facing sexual violence may not have access to services that meet their needs (e.g. people in rural or remote areas).
Last Update: November 22, 2022