One in five Canadians think a woman encourages sexual assault when she is drunk

Tuesday, July 9 2013

National Omnibus reveals that Canadians still blame women for being sexually assaulted

TORONTOJuly 9, 2013 /CNW/ - With summer in full swing, Canadians have packed away their sweaters and are enjoying drinks on the patio. However, according to a new survey* conducted by the Canadian Women's Foundation, many Canadians believe that women need to be careful about what they wear and how much alcohol they consume - 19 per cent of the respondents believe that women may provoke or encourage sexual assault when they are drunk. Of these, nearly one-quarter (23 per cent) were people between 18 and 34 years old.

"The belief that women are responsible for sexual assault because of their actions or appearance is still common in our society, and can cause women who have suffered abuse to stay silent and often feel responsible for what happened to them," says Anu Dugal, Director of Violence Prevention at the Canadian Women's Foundation. "Canadians must stop questioning and blaming sexual assault victims and start asking why some men rape women."

The study has also found that 15 per cent of Canadians believe women can encourage or provoke sexual assault by flirting with a man (20 per cent for age 18-34) and 11 per cent think women can encourage or provoke sexual assault when they wear short skirts (17 per cent for age 18-34).

"These results show that many Canadians have incorrect and problematic ideas about the root causes of sexual abuse," says Dugal "At the Canadian Women's Foundation, we want to help women and girls understand that assault is never their fault. We invest in prevention, education and programs that support women after they have experienced violence.  To help youth understand the signs of abuse and stop the cycle of violence, we fund school-based projects to teach youth, both male and female, the different forms of abuse, ways to show mutual respect, and tips for making safe dating choices."

In addition to physical trauma, sexual assault victims commonly have long-term and serious psychological effects that may include depression, self-blame, shame, fear, and anger. The programs funded by the Canadian Women's Foundation help women recover and rebuild their lives through counselling, legal advice and safety planning.

If you have been sexually assaulted:

  1. Safety - Go to a safe place.
  2. Report it - If you want to report the crime, notify the police immediately. This can help you regain a sense of control. Consider also calling a friend or family member who can offer support.
  3. Save the evidence - Do not shower, eat, drink, wash your hands or brush your teeth after the assault until after you have a medical exam. Save all the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault in a paper bag.
  4. Get medical help - Go to a hospital or clinic. Even if you do not think you were physically harmed, you should still have a medical examination. If you think you were given a "rape drug" ask the hospital to take a urine sample.
  5. Document - Write down as much as you remember about the assault, including a description of the assailant.
  6. Get emotional support - Talk to a counsellor, crisis line or community organization that is trained to assist victims of sexual assault. Counseling can help you cope with the emotional and physical effects of the assault. Remember that the assault is not your fault.

*Methodology: Online survey was conducted among 1,008 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists, on February 19th and February 20th, 2013. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec language) Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada.

For more information, you can visit the Canadian Women's Foundation online at or tweet using hashtag #cdnwomen.

About Canadian Women's Foundation 
The Canadian Women's Foundation is Canada's public foundation for women and girls. We empower women and girls in Canada to move out of violence, out of poverty and into confidence. Since 1991, we've raised money and invested in over 1,200 community programs across Canada, and are now one of the ten largest women's foundations in the world. We take a positive approach to address root causes of the most critical issues facing women and girls. We study and share the best ways to create long-term change and bring community organizations together for training and to learn from each other. We carefully select and fund the programs with the strongest outcomes and regularly evaluate their work. We have a special focus on building a community of women helping other women. Helping women creates safer families and communities, and a more prosperous society for all of us. We invest in the power of women and the dreams of girls.

For more information please visit


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