Sexual abuse or assault can happen to anyone. If this has happened to you, you are not to blame. The attacker (also called the assailant or abuser) may be a stranger, someone you know, a close friend, partner or ex-partner, or a family member. Many victims of abuse or assault know their assailant.
If you have experienced sexual abuse or assault, it may be hard for you to tell someone. You may feel shame or guilt and be too afraid of the attacker to say anything. But it’s important to get help. Talk to a health care professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or counsellor, the police or call your local sexual assault centre. These professionals can help you get medical treatment and tell you what you need to do to report the abuse or assault. They can also take steps to help you deal with your feelings and start to recover.
Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual act or behavior forced on a person without their consent. This means you did not give consent or you weren’t able to give consent. The attacker of a sexual assault may use threats, violence, force, or use drugs or alcohol to prevent a person from being able to react to, resist or remember the assault. Sexual assault includes:
Sexual abuse is when someone in a position of power or authority (such as a parent, teacher or coach) takes advantage of a person’s trust and respect to get them to take part in sexual activity. Sexual abuse may happen over and over or it may happen one time. It can involve any type of behavior or act that is a sexual assault. Sexual abuse also forcing a person to:
Current as of: June 23, 2020
Author: Sexual and Reproductive Health Services, AHS
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.