Sexual Assault

What is a Sexual Assault?

Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault, regardless of a person’s gender, age, socioeconomic status, etc.

Sexual assault is any unwanted physical contact or attempt at unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature. Unwanted physical contact is any contact that you did not consent to. Factors to consider include, but are not limited to:

  • The part of the body that was touched
  • The nature of the contact
  • Words or gestures used that accompany the contact
  • Threats or promises made by anyone involved in the incident (this may or may not include force)
  • Just because you didn’t say no doesn’t mean that you gave consent

Consent is not given when

  • You are unconscious
  • You are incapacitated by alcohol or drugs
  • You fear the consequences of not consenting
  • You feel threatened or intimidated
  • You are coerced (tricked, forced etc)
  • You are physically forced to comply
  • You say no either verbally or physically
  • You have a disability or suffer from mental health concerns that prevents you from providing consent
  • Even if you have given consent, you can withdraw that consent at any time if you change your mind

Reporting a Sexual Assault

If you are in immediate danger or the offender is still present, call 9-1-1.

For all non-emergency situations, please contact 519-570-9777.

You have the right to choose to report the sexual assault to police or you can choose to speak to one of the support agencies below who can offer assistance.

What happens next when you choose to report to police?

A call taker in the Communications Branch will take some basic information from you and briefly what you are reporting. It will then be determined whether a uniform patrol officer will respond initially or if the investigation will be handled by the Special Victims Unit.

Police may request that you attend the hospital for medical treatment and/or to complete a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK). The SAEK may assist police in the investigation. Completion of the SAEK is completely voluntary, however, potential evidence may be lost if you choose not to complete it. SAEK’s can be completed up to ten days after the offence.

Once a sexual assault investigator is assigned, you will be contacted to schedule an interview with the investigator. You also have the right to select the gender of the investigator assigned to your case. We encourage you to bring a friend or support person to assist you before and after the interview, but that person will not be allowed to be present during the interview. 

After the interview, you will be provided with several options as to how an investigation can proceed. 

There is no statute of limitation when it comes to reporting a sexual assault. This means that no matter how long ago the sexual assault happened, you can still report it to police for investigation. 

What if the sexual assault didn’t happen here in this region?

The Waterloo Regional Police Service investigates sexual assaults that have occurred in the Region of Waterloo. However, if you reside within the Region of Waterloo, but are a victim of sexual assault in another jurisdiction, you can speak with one of our investigators and we will forward the information to the police service in the jurisdiction where the sexual assault occurred so they can continue the investigation.

Sexual Assault Involving an Intimate Partner

In Ontario, police are legislated to lay criminal charges with respect to domestic violence, if the police have reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been committed.  This includes present and past intimate relationships.

Court Proceedings

If criminal charges are laid, you will be referred to the Victim Witness Assistance Program (VWAP).  You will be kept informed as to whether the offender is released, any terms of release for the offender (i.e. no contact terms), and how the case is progressing in court. 

Other services and supports are available to assist you as well.  See below for a list of resources.

Your Privacy

Your privacy is important to us and your name will never be released to the media by police.  When we release information it may contain the risk to public safety, information that could help solve the case and invite more victims to come forward.  It could also contain general information about a description of the suspect, and the date, time and location of the sexual assault if applicable.

Coping Strategies

You have been through a traumatic experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or support through your family, friends, LGBTQ+ community and networks, doctors, religious leaders or counsellors.  There is also a list of support agencies below who can provide you with the assistance you need and some healthy coping strategies.  Some strategies may include:

  • Talk to someone you trust
  • Give yourself permission to get professional help
  • Spend time with supportive people
  • Avoid consuming alcohol or drugs
  • Acknowledge that this is traumatic and that its ok to have difficult moments
  • Don’t blame yourself or create negative self-talk
  • Try to eat healthy and maintain a regular routine
  • Practice deep breathing
  • Be patient with yourself and allow yourself time to heal

Support Resources

You are not alone. There are supports for you in our community.

Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region

If you’d like someone to go to the hospital or police station with you, or you’d like emotional support or information, call the 24-Hour Support Line at 519-741-8633. For free counselling, advocacy, or court support, call 519-571-0121.

Go to the SASCWR website

Waterloo Region Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre

If you need medical care or physical evidence collected, go to St. Mary’s Hospital or Cambridge Memorial Hospital or call 519-749-6994.

Sexual Abuse Treatment Program, Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region

If you’re under 18, and want free therapy and support, call 519-576-1329 (Kitchener and Waterloo) or 519-623-6970 (Cambridge). 

Victim Services of the Waterloo Region

If you need immediate crisis intervention or referrals, call 519-585-2363.
Go to the VSWR website

Waterloo Regional Police Service

In an emergency, dial 911. If you’d like to report the police call 519-570-9777.

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