RNC Hearing / Speech Impaired


NL Sexual Assault Crisis & Prevention Centre 24-Hour Support Crisis Line

Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line

CHANNAL (Consumers’ Health Awareness Network of NL) Peer Support Warm Line

RCMP Hearing / Speech Impaired


In Canada, sexual assault is a criminal act defined as sexual contact with another person without that other person’s voluntary consent. Consent is defined in section 273.1(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada as the voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question. Consent is not obtained if the accused abuses a position of trust, power, or authority in order to engage in sexual contact.

Sexual contact can include but is not limited to kissing, fondling, grabbing, vaginal or anal penetration, or oral sex.

Consent cannot be given by someone who is asleep, drunk, passed out, or who is otherwise incapacitated. Consent can be withdrawn at any point in time, even in the middle of a sexual act.

Sex without consent is sexual assault, even if the parties are in a relationship.

What you wear. Drinking. Getting high. Flirting. Going to a bar. Walking home alone at night. These are not causes of sexual assault.

Responsibility for ensuring there is consent falls to the person who is initiating or pursuing the sexual activity. Silence or passivity do not equal consent. The best way to ensure you have consent is to ask. Do you want to? Are you enjoying it? True consent is freely and willingly given, not given as a result of pressure or force. If you want to have sex, it is up to you to make sure you have the other person’s explicit consent.

No means no. Stop means stop. Only yes means yes.

According to the Criminal Code of Canada, the age of consent is 16. Children under the age of 12 cannot consent to any kind of sexual activity. Youth aged 12 and 13 can consent if the other person is less than two years older. Youth aged 14 and 15 can consent if the other person is less than five years older. Until 18 years of age, no one can consent to sexual activity if the other person is in a position of power, trust, or authority over them, or if they are in a relationship of dependency with that person.

“Ka nastutamani tshi pu kuet Shimen.”
If you’re not sure, ask

What to do if you’re sexually assaulted

What you choose to do after a sexual assault is entirely your choice.

In the St. John’s area, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program is available at St. Clare’s Hospital. With your consent the specially trained nurses can collect evidence, treat minor injuries, and treat for STIs. You can ask them to stop at any point during the exam or evidence collection. You may want to bring a change of clothing to the hospital. They can also hold the evidence for 365 days, so you do not have to decide if you want to report right away. With your consent, staff will use the sexual assault evidence kit to collect evidence. This takes some time.

Outside of the St. John’s area, hospitals may be able to perform a sexual assault evidence kit. The procedures vary depending on the hospital.

If you choose to, you can report sexual assault at any time to the RNC or RCMP, regardless of when it took place. It’s important to keep as much evidence as possible. Try not to wash, change your clothes, take drugs, or drink alcohol. If you’ve changed, put anything you were wearing (including tampons or pads) in a clean bag. Don’t seal the bag as it can damage the evidence.

The police will want to know what happened. They may ask a lot of questions. They will want to collect as much evidence and information as possible. They may will want to take pictures of your injuries. They may take you to the hospital to collect evidence and take care of your medical needs.

The police will take a detailed statement from you, which is often videotaped.

The police will continue to investigate and will collect all available evidence. They will interview witnesses and any potential suspects.

After they complete their investigation, the police will decide if there is enough evidence to lay charges. If there is, they will lay charges. When charges are laid, your file then goes to the Crown Attorney’s office. The Crown will also assess the evidence to decide if your case can go to trial. The Crown can withdraw the charges if warranted.

The accused can plead not guilty or guilty. If they plead guilty, there is no need for a trial. If they plead guilty, there may be a preliminary inquiry to determine if there’s enough evidence to proceed with a trial. You will probably have to testify during the inquiry. You will also have to testify during the trial. If the court approves, there are ways for you to testify without having to enter the court room, such as testifying by video link.