People who have been sexually assaulted are often reluctant to file a complaint, especially since society and the various support services don’t always respond the way they expect or need them to. They are afraid of how their friends and family—and their assailant —will react. They generally feel like they have almost no one to turn to for help and protection. They worry that the legal system will fail them and dread the slow wheels of justice and the long waits for criminal trials. Victims fear the fallout from having to testify in court. Quite often, they are not satisfied with the sentences given to the assailant, which they feel don’t always seem to reflect the severity of the sexual crimes committed.
It is not necessary to file a complaint to receive help
You don’t have to file a complaint with the police to get help. Keep in mind that you can go at your own pace and respect your personal journey in deciding to press charges. Whether or not you decide to come forward, it’s important that you ask for help from any of the recommended resources.
I WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
You are not alone; you can break through your isolation.
On this site, you will find a resource you can turn to:
- if you need immediate help;
- if you need to talk to someone about the assault;
- if you need information.
Everyone needs help, regardless of age, culture, or religion.
What is a helping relationship?
A helping relationship is based on respect, non-judgment, empathy, and trust. Workers can use various approaches and methods of helping, depending on the person’s needs and situation and on the worker’s profession. That’s why it’s important that you ask the worker questions to find out what type of help and support you will receive, and to clarify what you can expect during the therapy sessions.
Filing a complaint
There is no time limit on filing a complaint with the police, nor are you obliged to do so.
FOR MORE INFORMATION about sexual assault laws and the legal process in cases of sexual assault, you can contact any of these resources:
Centre d’aide aux victimes d’actes criminels – CAVAC (resource available in french only)
Sûreté du Québec – MRC de Vaudreuil-Soulanges (resource available in french only)
Reporting a sexual assault is never easy
There are many reasons why someone would choose not to report a sexual assault:
- Fear of reprisals from the assailant;
- Fear of negative reactions from family and close friends (fear of being rejected, blamed, judged, not believed, etc.);
- The complexity of the legal system;
- Not knowing what resources are available to help;
- The code of silence about sexual assault in families and in society in general;
- Uncertainty about the benefits of talking about it;
- Feelings of shame and guilt.
The first step is talking about it!
While these reasons make a strong case for reporting a sexual assault, if you are still reluctant to come forward, the best thing you can do is talk about it with someone you trust and who can help you. There are various resources available in our region.
According to CALACS La Vigie, “Deciding to report a sexual assault is very difficult. This could be because in 91% of cases, a woman who has been assaulted knows her assailant, and in 51% of cases, he is a member of her family. Victims are also reluctant to speak out because of the many social taboos that still exits about sexual assault—taboos that make them fear how their loved ones will react or how their revelation might impact the family dynamics. First and foremost, victims need to be heard and believed, and told that the perpetrator is the only person to blame for the assault.”
Source: CALACS La Vigie, 2012-2013.
There is no statute of limitations for sexual assault, which means you can come forward no matter how much time has passed since the assault.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE
Deciding to report an incident of sexual assault is never easy. However, you can always find people who are willing and able to listen to you and help you. If not your family or close friends, you can turn to resources in your community.
Some sexual assault victims wait years, sometimes even decades, before breaking their silence and opening up to a trusted confidant. Revealing facts about the assault is a process that can be very long and painful for the victim.
The Civil Code of Québec (CQLR, c. CCQ-1991) provides for a prescriptive period of 30 years for an injury that results from a sexual assault. This prescriptive period starts from the date the victim becomes aware that the injury was due to the sexual assault.
Even after several years, reporting a sexual assault brings a sense of relief.
Breaking the silence is giving yourself the chance to be heard, understood and to get help.
This has to stop!
If you are being sexually abused and fear for your health and safety, don’t hesitate to contact one of the resources in your region.
In case of an emergency, you can call 911 at any time.