Language selection

Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada


Infographic: Sexual violence

Leave quickly

Sexual violence: It’s not just “how things are”.

Sexual violence is a form of gender-based violence that’s a serious problem in Canada and around the world. It can happen between people in romantic or dating relationships, within a family, at work, between friends and acquaintances, and to strangers. 

Some instances of sexual violence are met with outrage and action, while others are dismissed as just the way things are or worse, blame is placed on the victim/survivor. 

To achieve gender equality, we need to work together to prevent and end all types of sexual violence. 

It can be words or actions.

Sexual violence references to any unwanted sexual contact, including sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Sexual assault

Unwanted sexual activity (e.g. sexual touching, kissing someone without consent, rape). 

Sexual harassment

Comments, behaviour, and unwanted sexual interactions. Can take the form of jokes, catcalls, whistles, threats, or discriminatory remarks.

It can happen anywhere

Sexual violence doesn’t just happen in the shadows, it often takes place in plain sight.

It’s a widespread problem ~4.7 million women in Canada have been sexually assaulted since age of 15.Footnote i 

But some groups experience higher rates

Although sexual violence affects everybody, some populations are more likely to experience higher rates of sexual violence.

Perpetrators are most often somebody known to the victim/survivor

Among sexual assaults where an accused was charged by the police, 87% of victims/survivors knew their assailant. Footnote v

However, victims/survivors can feel blamed or responsible for their experience

1 in 5 victims/survivors of sexual assault felt blamed by their perpetrator or family and friendsFootnote i 

Unfortunately, even though

The harm of sexual violence is significant and has long-lasting, widespread impacts on those who experience it. Footnote vi 

It’s the only violent crime in Canada not on a decline. Footnote vii

By treating all sexual violence seriously, we can work together to prevent and end it and make Canada a safer place to live.

Learn how to stop dismissing gender-based violence at


Report a problem on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, please contact us.

Date modified :