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Sexualized Violence

Most people assume sexualized violence is rape or sexual assault, but it includes many other forms of violence and encompasses all forms of unwanted sexual contact. Sexualized violence is an overarching term used to describe any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality.

Common Myths FAQ Impact of Sexualized Violence

If you think you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the confidential 24-hour crisis and information line for more information 250-383-3232.

At VSAC we work from the following framework:

• Sexualized violence is never justifiable.

• Sexualized violence is an act of power and control that is expressed in a sexual way. It is not limited to sexual assault (i.e. unwanted sexual contact), but includes cultural norms of gender roles and expectations where anyone who steps outside of the “gender boxes” of men and women, that is to say people who do not conform to gender stereotypes are potentially subject to violence.

• Sexualized violence affects all women and trans individuals whether or not they have been victimized because of social expectations of gender. Fear of sexualized violence is a crucial factor in the development and behaviour of women, girls, and trans people.

• Men’s violence against women, children, and trans people happens because our society has created and tolerates power imbalances and socialization processes that devalue and victimize these groups of people. In addition to sexism, we acknowledge the effects of discrimination in our society based on (but not limited to) race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, class, sexual orientation, and physical and mental abilities. People (particularly women, trans women and other trans people) who experience multiple or intersecting inequities (e.g. racism, classism, homophobia…) are often targeted to a greater extent for sexualized violence. This is because society devalues and dehumanizes people who do not fit into dominant norms (white, man-identified, middle class, heterosexual, abled, etc.).

• Working toward the elimination of sexualized violence means recognizing and addressing the layered ways multiple forms of violence are being perpetuated in our society.

• Supporting survivors of sexualized violence to heal requires us to acknowledge that people have multiple identities and experiences of oppression that shape the way they experience and respond to sexualized violence as individuals and communities.