About sexualized violence

Sexualized violence is anything that disrespects your sexual being. Sexualized violence demeans, hurts and damages your sense of self. It can lead to feelings of shame, embarrassment, anger and rage. Sexualized violence is about abusing power.

Sexualized violence is overwhelmingly committed against girls and women but also happens to people of all genders. Almost all perpetrators of sexual violence are men but people of all genders also commit sexual assault. Sexualized violence is a problem all over the world. It can happen to anyone.

We all have a right to sexuality without violence.

Sexualized violence hurts us all. Many people are taking action against sexualized violence. Like all violence, sexualized violence can be stopped.

Sexualized violence includes:

  • Rape
  • Sexualized assault
  • Acquaintance assault or date rape
  • Drug facilitated sexual assault
  • Manipulation and coercion
  • Bribes, lies, threats, guilt trips, and head games
  • Sexual harassment
  • Labelling
  • Rumours and gossip
  • Sexual exploitation of youth for money or survival needs
  • Child sexual abuse

Most people assume sexualized violence is rape or sexualized assault. But it includes many other forms of violence. Any sexual activity without consent is sexualized assault. Sexualized assault of any kind is a crime.

When drugs or alcohol are used to lower a person’s inhibitions or make them pass out, this is known as “drug facilitated sexual assault.” Find out more about “date rape drugs” in the Sex, Drugs and Alcohol section.

Even though sexualized assault is a form of violence, it isn’t always “obviously violent”. Lots of sexualized assaults happen because the person uses manipulation or coercion to “convince” their partner to say yes or go along with it. Head games, lies, guilt, threats and bribes are ways that a person may be forced to do something without being physically forced.

“You can’t back out when you got me all excited”

“My ex said they’d get with me if you aren’t going to”

“ I just bought you all those presents. Don’t be ungrateful.”

“I really love you. If you love me, prove it.”

Sexual harassment is comments or behaviour of a sexual nature that cause embarrassment or hurt. It is a form of discrimination that may escalate to sexualized assault. It can be one incident or many over time.

Rumours and gossip are also a form of sexualized violence. Sharing information without a person’s permission is a kind of “behind the back” violence. It can lead to that person being rejected by others, targeted for insults and sometimes violence. Labels like slut can make girls more at risk for sexual assault.

Sexual exploitation is when a child or youth is manipulated or forced to exchange sexual acts for money, food, shelter, other neccessities, gifts or drugs. It is also called child prostitution. If you are concerned that you or another youth is being recruited, or lured, into the sex trade, find a trusted adult to talk to.

Child sexual abuse is when a person in a position of trust or authority sexually assaults a child. It can be a one time event or happen many times over years. Child sexual abuse is a crime. If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse, talk to a trusted adult. It is important to get help.

Sexualized violence is anything that disrespects your sexual being. You have a right to get help and to heal. We all have a right to sexuality without violence.