About sexual assault

UNB is committed to creating a campus where sexual violence is not tolerated and all members of our community feel supported and are aware of the sexual violence resources available to them.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual violence our Campus Sexual Support Advocates can help you report an incident, arrange accommodations, seek medical help and much more.

How you may be feeling

There is no "right way" for someone to feel after a sexual assault. Sexual assault is a traumatic experience that may interrupt your life at home, work and school; affecting your relationships with friends, family and coworkers.

The support of friends, family or significant others is very important during this time, but their reaction to your experience may not be what you anticipate or would like it to be. People in your life will react in different ways; some may express blame while others may give you their full support. Others may not know how to react, or how to support you.

If you feel ready, allow those who offer their support to help you through this period. The decision to talk about your experience is a personal choice. You do not have to share your experience with anyone until you feel ready.

When you are ready, there are people and organizations who can help.

Feelings commonly experienced

You may react in various ways to sexual assault. You may be visibly upset (crying, agitated, physically ill), or you may appear completely under control (calm, cool, detached). No reaction is more legitimate than another. Although individuals may react differently, the following are feelings commonly described by those who have been affected by sexual assault. See the FSAC for more information.

  • Fear(s)
  • Guilt and self-blame
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of trust
  • Flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive memories
  • Powerlessness
  • Difficulties with sexual intimacy

Consent

If you plan to pursue sexual activity with someone, you must first have consent. Consent is voluntary agreement to engage in sexual acts. Consent is not given if:

  • The individual is impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • The individual is unconscious or sleeping
  • The “pursuer” is in a position of trust or authority (teacher, coach, employer)
  • The "pursuer" uses intimidation or threats to coerce a person into sexual activity
  • The individual changes his or her mind and wants to stop

Sex without consent is sexual assault.

Dispelling the Myths about Sexual Assault

(Ontario Women’s Directorate, 2013)

Myths are commonly held and inaccurate ideas about sexual assault and the individuals who experience it. These misconceptions are taught and accepted throughout society in order to make sense of why sexual violence occurs but they inevitably allow individuals to blame the survivor, develop a false sense of security, fail at being supportive, and inevitably commit sexual violence.

Myth: Sexual assault can’t happen to me or anyone I know.

Fact: Sexual assault can and does happen to anyone. People of all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds are survivors of sexual assault. Young women, Aboriginal women and women with disabilities are at greater risk of experiencing sexual assault.

Myth: Sexual assault is most often committed by strangers.

Fact: Someone known to the survivor, including acquaintances, dating partners, and common-law or married partners, commit approximately 82 per cent of sexual assaults.

Myth: Sexual assault is most likely to happen outside in dark, dangerous places.

Fact: The majority of sexual assaults happen in private spaces like a residence or private home.

Myth: It’s not a big deal to have sex with a person while they are drunk, stoned or passed out.

Fact: If a woman is unconscious or incapable of consenting due to the use of alcohol or drugs, she cannot legally give consent. Without consent, it is sexual assault.

Myth: If they didn’t scream or fight back, it probably wasn’t sexual assault.

Fact: When a woman is sexually assaulted she may become paralyzed with fear and be unable to fight back. She may be fearful that if she struggles, the perpetrator will become more violent. If she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, she may be incapacitated or unable to resist.

Myth: If they aren’t crying or visibly upset, it probably wasn’t a serious sexual assault.

Fact: Every woman responds to the trauma of sexual assault differently. She may cry or she may be calm. She may be silent or very angry. Her behaviour is not an indicator of her experience. It is important not to judge a woman by how she responds to the assault.

Myth: If they don’t have obvious physical injuries, like cuts or bruises, they probably weren’t sexually assaulted.

Fact: Lack of physical injury does not mean that a woman wasn’t sexually assaulted. An offender may use threats, weapons, or other coercive actions that do not leave physical marks. She may have been unconscious or been otherwise incapacitated.

Myth: If it really happened, they would be able to easily recount all the facts in the proper order.

Fact: Shock, fear, embarrassment and distress can all impair memory. Many survivors attempt to minimize or forget the details of the assault as a way of coping with trauma. Memory loss is common when alcohol and/or drugs are involved.

Myth: People often lie and make up stories about being sexually assaulted.

Fact: The number of false reports for sexual assault is very low, consistent with the number of false reports for other crimes in Canada. Sexual assault carries such a stigma that many women prefer not to report.