Sexualized violence is any form of sexual contact without your consent. Consent is a mutual, verbal, physical, and emotional agreement that happens enthusiastically, without manipulation, threats, or coercion.
Often, sexualized violence shows up as sexual assault, but it can have a larger definition too. Click here to read more about what sexualized violence can look like and the root causes of it.
Sexualized violence can leave one feeling powerless, confused, and disoriented. There may be a fear that the person who caused harm may get in trouble. Knowing what to do next can feel really tough! The bottom line is that this was not your fault: nobody deserves sexualized violence, no matter the situation.
If you have experienced sexualized violence recently
If you have been sexually assaulted within the last 7 days, the Victoria Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is available 24/7 and can identify and explain your options, as well as provide you with support, medical care, information and referrals. SART is comprised of a support worker from the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, a specially trained Forensic Nurse Examiner and, if you choose, the police.
You can access support from the Sexual Assault Response Team in these three ways (it’s your choice!):
- Call the Vancouver Island Crisis Line 1-888-494-3888
- Go to the Victoria General Hospital emergency room department, or
- Go to one of the local police stations in the greater Victoria Area.
It is a good idea to go to a place you feel safe, and do what you need to take care of yourself. The reality of sexualized violence means many more people experience it than we even know. This means you are never alone in your experience and it can help to talk to others about what has happened to avoid feeling isolated.
Paths to healing
There are many coping and healing strategies that may help after experiencing sexualized violence. There is no one right path, nor is there no one right tool or strategy. Healing is not linear! Here are some ideas that you might consider:
- Focusing on caring for yourself (exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep, connecting with nature, and doing things that are fun or pleasurable)
- Consider who you trust in your life that you can talk to about this. This can be a friend, family member, school staff or youth leader.
- In times of emotional overwhelm, consider reaching out to a crisis line by phone or text, like Kids Help Phone or Victim Link BC.
- Expressing and practicing creativity: art, cooking, dancing, sport, writing in a journal, and so much more.
- Re-affirming your skills and knowledge in areas where confidence may feel shaky (e.g., communication, assertiveness, boundaries)
- Developing and following a regular spiritual practice (yoga, meditation, daily prayer, walking outside, tarot, etc)
- Give yourself permission to do nothing! There may be times when the healthiest thing you can do is to put the healing on hold and lay low.