Acts of sexual violence can be reported to the competent authorities. Depending on the form and context of the sexual violence you experienced, you may have access to the judicial system or other forms of recourse, some of which do not require reporting the sexual violence to the police.
- Criminal procedure: The act of violence must be mentioned in the federal Criminal Code (for example: sexual assault, human trafficking for sexual purposes, child pornography). The objective is to punish the criminal and ensure public safety. You will be required to report the incident of sexual violence to the police, after which a prosecutor will bring the assailant to justice. You may be called on to testify in court.
- Civil procedure: The objective is to obtain reparation or compensation for the harm done to you. You will need to hire a lawyer to represent you during the trial.
- You can also initiate a collective action or join an existing action with other victims of the same person or institution. To launch a collective action, you will need to hire a lawyer.
If you have been the target of inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature in your place of work, you can report the incident to your employer’s HR department, your union, the Commission for labour standards, pay equity and occupational health and safety (Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail - CNESST) or the Human rights and youth rights commission (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse - CDPDJ). Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for support.
All of the various restorative justice and citizen mediation programs are aimed at obtaining reparation for harm done. A competent authority will evaluate the possibility of responding to your request and determine the course of action that is in your best interest.
Colleges (including cegeps), universities or other postsecondary teaching institutions
These establishments are required to have a policy to prevent and fight sexual violence that include accommodation measures and measures to protect victims from reprisals following a report of sexual violence.
Military justice system
The military justice system operates alongside the civil criminal justice system. There may be a trial in a military court if you have been the victim of a crime of a sexual nature committed by a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Professionals such as lawyers and health professionals are required to comply with the code of conduct of the order to which they belong. Once you have submitted a complaint to the order in question, the Office of the Syndic will support and represent you.
You can break your lease with the Tribunal administratif du logement (formerly the Régie du logement or rent control board) if you have been a victim of sexual violence in your home and you fear for your safety or the safety of a minor who lives with you.
Sports and athletic associations and federations have policies to counter sexual violence, and athletes and trainers are required to respect a code of conduct. The Complaint Officer for the protection of integrity in the practice of sport is (Officier des plaintes de la protection de l’intégrité dans l’exercice du sport) is an independent bureau that receives complaints and provides support throughout the process.
Various resources are available to help you negotiate the complex steps in the criminal and civil judicial process.
To talk to someone, obtain support or find out what resources are available to you, call one of our Sexual Violence Helpline counsellors at 1 888 933-9007.