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What is Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, sexual integrity, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent.

Survivors/victims are never at fault or responsible for sexual violence.


Consent means agreeing to (that is, saying Yes through your words or body) to sexual activity.

Here are some examples of situations where there is no consent:

  • You did not say Yes
  • You are tricked, bullied or threatened until you say Yes
  • You are too scared to say No
  • You are drunk or high
  • You are asleep or unconsious
  • You said yes, but then you changed your mind and say No
  • The other person is a family member – for example, father, aunt, grandfather, cousin
  • The other person is a professional – for example, teacher, doctor, interpreter – employed to help you.

Without consent, it is sexual violence.


Veuillez trouver ci-dessous des ressources en français sur le consentement et la violence sexuelle.

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Myth Vs. Mythbusters Dispelling Rape Culture Myths

iSafe Infographic

Sexual Violence Infographic

Myth #1: Rape is most likely to be committed by a stranger.

Fact: Only 10% of rapes are committed by strangers; 90% are known, and usually trusted by the individual.


Myth #2: Girls play “hard to get” and say no when they really mean yes.

Fact: It’s important to listen to what a person actually says about their interest in sexual activity:

  • Don’t make assumptions about others
  • It is safer to not make a guess about what you think they want
  • When in doubt, it’s best to ask (“Are you okay with this?” “Do you like what we are doing” “Do you want me to wait/pause/stop?”)
  • Remember: Without the other person’s consent (agreement), it is sexual violence.


Myth #3: If a girl was drunk or wore something sexy, she was asking to be sexually assaulted.

Fact: Sexual violence is never the fault or the responsibility of the survivor/victim. It does not matter what they were wearing, or what they were doing. We are each responsible for ensuring we have the consent of others in situations of sexual activity. If a person cannot get the other person’s consent (agreement), it is sexual violence.


Myth #4: Sometimes people lie about sexual assault because they regret having sex, or want to get someone else into trouble.

Fact: False allegations of sexual assault are very rare. In fact, it is far more common that victims are not believed when they disclose their experiences of sexual violence.


Myth #5: Men cannot be sexually violated. Women don’t commit sexual offences.

Fact: While women, girls, boys and trans and gender-non-binary people are more likely to be targeted for acts of sexual violence, men can also be sexually violated. While men are most commonly the perpetrators of sexual violence, women can also perpetrate sexual violence.


Myth #6: If two people have had sex together in the past, there is already consent to have sex again in the future.

Fact: Sexual consent is active and ongoing. This means that saying Yes to sexual activity one time does not mean you are saying Yes to sexual activity in the future. For example, you have the right to:

  • Have sexual relations with someone on Friday night (as an example), and then say no to sexual relations with them on Monday
  • Have sexual relations with someone once, and then never again
  • Say yes, but then change your mind and say No

‘Draw The Line’ is an interactive campaign that aims to engage Ontarians in a dialogue about sexual violence. The campaign challenges common myths about sexual violence and equips bystanders with information on how to intervene safely and effectively. Click here to visit the Draw The Line website.

What is Human trafficking

Human trafficking is exploitation of another through force, coercion, deception, fraud, or threat. Common types of exploitation are forced labour and forced sexual services (though other types of exploitation also exist)¹.

¹Women`s Support Network of York Region. 2013. The Educator’s  Resource Manual: Addressing Trafficking For The Purpose Of Commercial Sexual Exploitation, p. 6

Human trafficking for sexual exploitation means the use of force, coercion, deception, fraud, and threat to sexually exploit another (i.e. make them provide sexual services) for money or in exchange for other valuables.

Some people are more vulnerable to being sexually exploited. These include:

  • Women and girls living in poverty
  • Racialized populations (that is, persons of color)
  • Indigenous women and girls
  • Trans persons
  • Young people
  • Immigrant, refugee, and undocumented people
  • Under-housed and street-involved women
  • Women labeled with a mental health diagnoses
  • Women who use drugs or alcohol
  • People engaged in sex work

People in these groups are more likely to face social, economic and individual circumstances that make human trafficking possible.

Veuillez trouver ci-dessous des ressources en français sur la traite des personnes.

  • Social isolation
  • Dealing with gender discrimination
  • Dealing with racial discrminination
  • Being vulnerable to violence
  • Dealing with the impacts of violence
  • Lack of affordable, safe housing
  • Lack of reliable living conditions
  • Working in lower-paying jobs
  • Limited educational opportunities
  • Limited employment opportunities
  • Lack of support persons (ie. supportive or reliable family members or friends)
  • Loss of community or family; family breakdown
  • Lack of supportive care: for example, access to medical care, counselling, mental health support, educational guidance, drug or alcohol treatment
  • Limited sense of belonging in one’s community or family
  • Isolation
  • Young age
  • Mental health challenges
  • Learning differences
  • Disabilities, including ABI (Acquired brain injury)

Thanks to Sexual Assault Centre/Rape Crisis Centre of Peel. May2012. Breaking the Chains of Human Trafficking–Linking Community Support in Peel: Train the Trainer Manual. The Root Causes of Human Trafficking for this information.

Myth #1: If someone willingly works in the sex trade, they are not a victim of trafficking.

FACT: While many people do willingly work in the sex and entertainment trades, some of those providing sexual services are not in these trades willingly. Those who have been coerced, forced or threatened into sexual and entertainment services are victims of trafficking.


Myth #2: Victims of trafficking are exploited by people that they do not know well.

FACT: Many victims are lured, coerced, forced or threatened into sexual and entertainment services by people they trust. Exploiters take advantage of this relationship and may use it to keep victims from leaving, escaping or reporting.


Myth #3: Canada doesn’t have a sex trafficking problem.

FACT: In fact, Canada does have a domestic sex trafficking problem: 93% of sex trafficking victims are Canadian-born (Canadian Women’s Foundation); of this number, 25% are under the age of 18. (Statistics Canada).


Myth #4: A person could leave the trafficking situation if they really wanted to.

FACT: Traffickers often use psychological, physical and safety threats to maintain control over their victims. Victims are often in real physical danger. A trafficked person commonly needs a clear plan and some support people in order to exit the trafficking situation safely.

Anti Human Trafficking Project (2014)

The main goal of the project is to develop a community response, referral and protocols to assist women and girls who are trafficked for sexual exploitation within York Region. Regional program, therefore our focus is York Region – however we hope that our initiatives will be transferable for other municipalities.

Preventing and Reducing the Trafficking of Women and Girls through Community Planning in York Region:


  • Increasing partnerships within the region: Anti Human Trafficking Regional committee of 30 community partners: representing social service providers, law enforcement (YRP), child welfare, health care professionals, youth serving agencies, First Nations community, ethno –specific agencies, business community – meeting on a monthly basis
  • Create guidelines to identify trafficked persons: with regional partners, developing an assessment /screening form for social service providers to assist them in identifying trafficked women; also conducting in-house trainings for staff and volunteers on human trafficking
  • Creation of a referral system and regional protocols for trafficked persons (Regional Committee)
  • Facilitate cross sector resource sharing – example of this: engaging the business community – specifically, in York Region hotels are a popular location for trafficking
  • Monitor human trafficking in York Region
  • Creation and distribution of outreach and prevention materials across York Region
  • Engage at risk women and girls
  • Literature Review
  • Needs Assessment
  • Strategic Outreach plan & materials
  • Human Trafficking Helpline
  • Referral process & protocols for human trafficking in York Region
  • Training for identified service providers
  • Project evaluation

#NotEnough Campaign



With increasing rates of violence, more demand for services, along with rising inflation and limited funds- supports for survivors of violence are not enough! Sexual and gender-based violence is a problem we can’t ignore any longer, and survivors of violence need our support. WSN is launching 2023’s #NotEnough Campaign to sound the alarm on this crisis of violence and is calling on you to help us do more to help close the gap for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

To learn more about this campaign click on the report below:

WSN #NotEnough Report – September 2023





“Our vision is to eradicate sexual violence.”

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