Overview: Start Here
Have you, or someone you care about, been sexually abused or assaulted?
A Crime of Violence
One in four women and one in ten men will be sexually assaulted during her or his lifetime.
Sexual assault is any form of non-consensual sexual contact. Sexual assault can happen to anyone at any time. Offenders can be family members, caregivers, teachers, coaches, childcare workers, medical or other professionals, clergy, or total strangers. Sexual assault is a crime of violence. If you have been assaulted, no matter who did it or when it happened, it was not your fault.
As a survivor, you may experience different feelings including fear, guilt, hopelessness, depression, anger and confusion.
There are options and resources available to you. You have choices and power.
This website explains some of the choices for survivors of sexual abuse and assault. And with knowledge, comes the power to make the best choice.
Suing the Assailant
For some survivors, choosing to sue is the right choice.
Beginning a lawsuit is a big decision. The process can take a few years and you will have to tell your story several times to different people. You may also need to undergo various medical or psychological assessments.
A lawsuit can be a painful process, but it can also be a positive, healing experience. Perhaps most importantly, a survivor can regain a sense of power and control in suing the perpetrator(s). Other advantages of a lawsuit can include:
- Compensation for pain and suffering.
- Compensation for past and future counseling and care.
- Compensation for past and future economic loss, including reduced income potential.
- Achieving closure.
Choosing the right lawyer to help you is an important factor to consider. A lawyer with experience in the area of civil sexual abuse can help you understand the law, and consider all the factors individual to your case.
An experienced lawyer can assist you in making the best decisions to take back control of your life. Contact us to learn more about how Jellinek Law can help.
Criminal Injuries Compensation Board
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board is a government agency that compensates victims of violent crimes. It is not always necessary for there to be a criminal conviction, or even for the assailant to be charged, in order for a survivor to be awarded compensation.
An application must be made within two years of the incident. Sometimes extensions can be granted. The application process may also include obtaining information from medical professionals and others. The offender may be notified of your application and hearing.
The hearing can be in writing, or in person. The Board will notify you of its decision and you have a right to appeal the decision if you do not agree with it.
To request an application, contact the Board:
Criminal Injuries Compensation Board
439 University Avenue, 4th Floor
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1Y8
Tel: 416-326-2900 or 1-800-372-7463
Reporting the Sexual Assault to the Police
For some, telling the police about the sexual assault can be an empowering experience. For others, involving the police is not the right choice.
There is no set time for reporting a sexual assault. The police will begin by taking a statement from you and will then start to collect evidence.
If there is enough evidence, the police will lay charges. It is important for any survivor to understand that even if the police do not lay charges, it does not mean they do not believe you. Rather, there may not be enough evidence to legally proceed.
Once charges are laid, the accused will often not be in jail pending trial. But, the judge can put conditions on the accused’s release. If the accused pleads guilty, you will not have to testify.
If the accused pleads not guilty, you will be required to provide evidence at the criminal trial and will be subjected to cross-examination by the assailant’s lawyer.
After a guilty plea or a guilty verdict, you may submit a victim impact statement to tell the judge how the assault has affected you and your family. The accused can face up to ten years in prison. If a weapon was involved, the accused can be given a life sentence.
As a survivor, it is important for you to understand that while reporting the sexual assault to the police can be very empowering, once the police are involved your ability to control the process will be limited.
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