What is sexual violence?



Sexual violence is a serious health, social and public safety issue in Nova Scotia. We know that incidents of sexual violence are under-reported in our province. Available data indicates that sexual assault is significantly under reported, with approximately 9 in 10 incidents (88%) going unreported to the police. In 2014, 591 sexual assaults were reported to police in Nova Scotia. Data collected through the 2014 General Social Survey also indicate that:

Sexual violence is a broad term that describes behaviours and actions that are sexual in nature and are unwanted, coerced, and committed without consent. This includes words – both written and spoken.

Sexual violence is about exerting power and control over others.

It can include a variety of acts and experiences and may also be known as sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse, exploitation, incest, date rape, and human trafficking.

Sexual violence also includes sexual harassment and catcalling, indecent exposure, stalking, showing or distributing demeaning sexual imagery, and online harassment, also known as cyber-violence.

Sexual violence is a continuum. It includes, but is not limited to:

People of all genders can be subjected to sexual violence. However, sexual violence is mostly experienced by women, children — including boys — and transgender and gender non-conforming people.

It can be a single occurrence, or can be ongoing by the same or different perpetrator.

Sexual violence can happen to people of any age.

People of all genders, races, sexual orientations and class backgrounds can be subject to sexual violence. However, some people, such as racialized and Aboriginal women, women with disabilities, low-income women, women with addictions, young women, and transgender people experience higher rates.

Sexual violence is a serious health, social and public safety issue in Nova Scotia that affects all of us.

Everyone deserves to live safely.

We all have a role in ending sexual violence.

Rape Culture



“Rape culture” is a term that describes an environment where rape is pervasive, normalized and accepted as inevitable. Rape culture does not necessarily mean that society or individual people promote sexual violence in an outward, active manner. Rather rape culture is largely perpetuated via unexamined and false beliefs.

Some examples of rape culture include myths about sexual violence, victim blaming, language that trivializes rape, jokes, sexual objectification in ads, images that glamourize sexual violence, song lyrics that send confusing and harmful messages about consent, and more.

Rape culture teaches people not to get raped.

We should be teaching people not to rape.

Rape culture normalizes sexual violence and as a result, victims and survivors may not understand what happened to them as rape. They may think they are “overreacting” and decide not to talk to someone, get help or report the violence. Even if they do recognize what happened to be sexual violence, rape culture can cause them to blame themselves, feel guilty and/or ashamed and feel afraid that they will not be believed, including by professionals and authorities.

How can we challenge rape culture?