close up photo of a young woman in front of a building with red bricks

The Toronto Police Services is here to provide assistance and support. For further information on the community support resources available to you, sexual assault investigations, possible outcomes and the criminal court process visit our Guide for Survivors of Sexual Assault, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

Along the bottom you will see quick exit instructions. If at any time you feel you are in danger please call 911.

We recognize that this is a very difficult time for you,

It is important for you to know that the Toronto Police Service (TPS) is here to provide assistance and support. The TPS believes that everyone impacted by sexual violence should be treated with respect and dignity, fairness and honesty and in a professional and bias-free manner. Our duty is to bring an appropriate resolution to the case by conducting a professional and thorough investigation, while at the same time providing you with the necessary information and resources to assist you.

As someone impacted by sexual violence, you have taken an important step by accessing this guide and/or browsing through our website. Enclosed in this resource guide is information on sexual assault investigations, possible outcomes and the criminal court process. We have also included information on financial compensation programs and how to access professional counselling and supports in Toronto.

If you do not want to make a report to the police, or you need time and support to make that decision, we have partnered with many other agencies that can help you during this difficult time. A list of these agencies and their contact information is located at the back of this booklet.

Our goal is to identify, arrest and prosecute the person(s) responsible. At the same time, we support the choices that you as the survivor make with respect to the process that is best for you

*For the purposes of this document we use the term “survivor/victim”. We recognize that people who have been subjected to sexual violence have the right to choose how they want to be referred to in media stories. There is a lot of debate over the use of victim or survivor; in the end it is up to the individual to choose how they want to be referred to.

There is no “right” way to feel. Sexual assault can cause trauma, and can result in a variety of feelings, thoughts, sensations and emotions, both during and after the incident.

Responses to highly stressful situations vary from person to person and not all people will experience the same reactions at the same level of intensity, nor for the same length of time. However, it is important to recognize that whatever the reaction is, it is a normal human response. On our community resources page, you will find a list of agencies and their contact information that may assist you during this difficult time.

People who have been sexually assaulted need the support of their families and friends. Survivors may feel ashamed, embarrassed, depressed and frightened. They may not want to talk about what happened. Be ready to listen when they are ready to talk. Let them know you care about them and do not judge or blame them for what happened. Be there to support them in the choices that they make during the process. They may feel guilty, but what happened is never their fault. You can be of great help by giving them this message.

Visit our I Know Someone Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted page for more resources.

A Sexual Assault is any unwanted sexual contact. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age and cultural background.

A sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact. It includes, but is not limited to, unwanted kissing, touching, penetration or attempted penetration. You can be sexually assaulted once or many times. You can be sexually assaulted even if you have engaged in consensual sexual activity in the past. You can be sexually assaulted by anyone; a stranger, a friend, a partner, or a person in authority. Sexual assault is never your fault.

Consent is the free and active agreement, given by both partners, to engage in a specific sexual activity. You cannot give consent if:

You give consent when you say yes and willfully participate in every sexual activity, every single time.

As a survivor of sexual assault, we support the choices that you make with respect to the process and what is best for you.

What are my choices after sexual assault?

As a survivor of sexual assault, we support the choices that you make with respect to the process and what is best for you.

The following choices are available to a survivor of sexual assault:

  • You can report the sexual assault to police;
  • You can get medical and / or emotional support from community support agencies;
  • You can take civil action against (i.e., sue) the person who sexually assaulted you.

The SAEK is a specially sealed box that contains envelopes, bottles and other containers used to collect evidence. Evidence can be collected at many different points in time, however the sooner the better. There is a greater chance of collecting physical evidence within 72 hours of the assault; however evidence may still be available up to 12 days later.

In order to increase the likelihood of obtaining forensic evidence; keep the clothing worn during the assault, try not to urinate before you reach the hospital, and try not to shower or use a feminine douche product.

The SAEK is conducted at a hospital in a Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre (SA/DVCC).

Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centres in Toronto are:

Women’s College Hospital

76 Grenville Street
Toronto, ON M5S 1B2
416-323-6040

Scarborough and Rouge Hospital

3030 Birchmount Road
Toronto, ON M1W 3W3
416-495-2555

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)

Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Program
555 University Avenue
Room 6427 Black Wing
416-813-6275 (day time)
416-813-7500 (24 Hours)

A SA/DVCC provides emergency service, follow-up health care and counselling to both female and male survivors of recent sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Care is available 24 hours/day and includes: crisis intervention; physical examination; documentation of injuries (including photographs); testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy; forensic evidence collection for release to police (or stored at the hospital); safety planning; and referrals for ongoing support. Follow-up health care and counselling are also available at a SA/DVCC.

The process for the SAEK is voluntary, which means that your consent is required. As a survivor of sexual assault, we support the choices that you make with respect to the process that is best for you.

The following choices are available to survivors of sexual assault regarding the SAEK:

  • It is your choice to have a SAEK done and ask for police involvement
  • It is your choice to have a SAEK done, but request no police involvement (the kit can be held for up to 6 months, at the Sexual Assault Care Centre, in case you change your mind and want to involve police at a later date)
  • It is your choice to refuse the SAEK and still ask for police involvement

The SAEK is retrieved by police from the hospital and immediately turned over to a Forensic Identification Officer. A complete list of the contents of the SAEK is conducted to ensure all exhibits collected are accounted for. When reviewing the details of the case, the Forensic Identification Officer will contact the Centre of Forensic Sciences (CFS) in order to obtain permission for the SAEK to be submitted for analysis. Not all exhibits are submitted for analysis. Based on the details of the case, only the relevant exhibits from the SAEK and/or clothing will be submitted.

Reporting to the Police

Our goal is to identify, arrest and prosecute the person(s) responsible. At the same time, we support the choices that you as the survivor make with respect to the process that is best for you.

In Canada, there is no statute of limitation for sexual offences, which means you can report to police no matter how long ago it happened, and if appropriate sexual assault charges can be laid.

If the Sexual Assault occurred in your distant past or if you are an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, it is commonly referred to as a “historical sexual assault”. If you choose to report this to police, for your convenience, you may do so at the police department closest to you, regardless of where the incident occurred. Your report will be assigned to the division where the sexual assault took place and you will be contacted by the officer assigned to your case.

Anyone can be sexually assaulted at anytime, anywhere, by anyone. This means a sex trade worker can be sexually assaulted by a client. Any sexual contact that was not consensually agreed to is a sexual assault. If you are victimized during your work in the sex trade you will not be arrested.

No. Your immigration status will not be affected by reporting to the police.

There may be certain circumstances where an officer may be legally required to ask you about your immigration status.

These circumstances are:

  • A victim or witness who may require or seek admission into the Provincial Witness Protection Program;
  • A Crown Attorney is requesting the information for court purposes;
  • The information is necessary to prove the essential elements of the offence and/or;
  • Investigations where the circumstances make it clear that it is essential to the safety and security of the public, or to officer safety, to determine the immigrations status of a victim or witness.

The Toronto Police Service is accessible in many ways to people with disabilities. The Service’s website is compliant with the provincial Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. When a person calls the Toronto Police Service, language translation services are available and a TTY system for those with hearing loss is in place.

If, in the course of a domestic violence investigation, it’s determined that a sexual assault has been committed and reasonable grounds are established to lay charges, the police shall proceed with charges regardless of the victim’s wishes. This occurs because there is a Provincial mandate that directs all Police Officers in Ontario to proceed with charges specifically related to domestic violence. Officers will explain to the victim and the offender that it is the duty of the police to lay a charge where there are reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been committed. They will also explain that only a Crown Attorney can withdraw the charge.

Domestic violence is any use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship (current and former). It also includes emotional/psychological abuse or harassing behaviour. Although both women and men can be victims of domestic violence the overwhelming majority of this violence involves men abusing women. Intimate relationships include those between the opposite sex and same-sex partners. These relationships vary in duration and legal formality and include current and former dating, common-law and married couples.

If the sexual assault just happened, or you are in immediate danger, call 911.

If it did not just happen, then call the main Toronto Police phone number, 416-808-2222 and a uniformed officer will attend your location.

Once dispatched to a sexual assault, the uniformed officer will:

  • Upon arriving at the location of the survivor, ensure their physical and emotional needs are met and call for an ambulance if required;
  • Conduct a preliminary investigation with the assistance of the survivor to find out basic details about the incident. This will happen in a private environment, if possible;
  • If the survivor has special needs (e.g., interpretation, sign language, physical and other disabilities) contact the appropriate individual or agency for assistance;
  • Depending on the nature of the sexual assault, the officer may ask the survivor to go to the hospital to treat injuries and to have a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK) done. This kit will collect forensic evidence; and/or
  • Advise the survivor of the option of having Victim Services Toronto contacted to assist in providing immediate crisis, trauma and support services.

Evidence is very important in any investigation; therefore, the collection of evidence in a timely manner should be considered. Evidence is not just limited to biological specimens, but also includes video, statements, cell phone and social media content, and other documentation. Although evidence is not absolutely necessary in conducting an investigation, it greatly assists the police with their investigation.

All sexual assault cases are investigated by police officers who are specifically trained in the area of sexual assault investigations. The training that sexual assault investigators receive is focused on creating a consistent and thorough investigation into sexual assault cases, while respecting the needs of victims and witnesses. The training is designed to enhance investigations of sexual assault by promoting best practices, in addition to victim sensitivity.

A trained sexual assault investigator will be assigned to your case. Assignment of sexual assault cases in Toronto are done on a risk-based assessment. This means:

  • Cases where the alleged offender is “known to the victim” will be investigated by the division where the sexual assault took place, and;
  • Cases that are deemed a “high risk to the community” and where the alleged offender is “not known” to the victim will be investigated by Sex Crimes.

The trained sexual assault investigator assigned to your case will:

  • Fully investigate the incident;
  • Ensure the survivor has access to medical care;
  • Explain the process for the collection of all evidence including the SAEK, as necessary;
  • Consult with Victim Services Toronto;
  • Assess and discuss with the survivor where and when an in-depth interview will take place;
  • Ask if the survivor prefers to be interviewed by a man or a woman and make all reasonable efforts to respect the survivor’s choice;
  • Keep the survivor informed of the progress of the investigation in a timely manner;
  • Lay charges when appropriate;
  • Advise the survivor that she/he has the right to complete a Victim Impact Statement;
  • Advise the survivor that someone from the Victim Witness Assistance Program will be contacting him/her to assist with preparation filling out appropriate forms, court preparation and to keep the survivor informed of the court progress of the accused.

Your privacy is very important to us. When a sexual assault is reported to the police, a review of all the information is done to determine if a news release is required. Generally a news release is issued if:

  • There is a risk to public safety;
  • Information from the public may help solve the case;
  • It is believed that more victims might come forward; and/or
  • An arrest has been made and/or there is an update to the investigation.

General information about the sexual assault, including the date, time, and location of the assault, will be included in the news release. The news release will include the gender and age of the survivor. The news release will also include a description of the person alleged to be responsible, if that person is not yet known, or it will include the name and age if the person has been identified.

Your name will never be released to the media.

It is the role of the police to lay charges if there is enough evidence to support the investigation. Sometimes the police will decide not to lay a charge. This does not mean that they do not believe you or that the sexual assault did not happen. It may mean that there is not enough evidence to prove a criminal charge in court. If this does occur, the investigator can explain why this happened in your case. The investigator can tell you of civil options available to you (some of these agencies can be found on our community resources page).

Unsolved sexual assault cases are never closed; they remain active. If additional information is received, further investigation will be done, which may lead to an arrest.

Help and Counselling

There are many resources available to you after the sexual assault, during the investigation and both during and after the trial. The Toronto Police Service partners with many agencies to make sure support is there for anyone who chooses it. The people who work at these support agencies are not officers.

There are many resources available to you after the sexual assault, during the investigation and after the trial. The Toronto Police Service works with many agencies to make sure support is there for anyone who needs it. The people who work at these support agencies are not officers. For more resources visit our community resources page.

Victim Services Toronto

Victim Services Toronto is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to helping survivors of crime. They provide responsive, accessible, and accountable programs and services. They focus on restoring and enhancing the survivor’s quality of life and preventing re-victimization.

There is immediate on-site support and crisis intervention, operating 24/7. They will connect you to agencies and resources in your local community for counselling, advocacy, violence prevention, safety services and outreach.

40 College Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2J3
416-808-7066
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.victimservicestoronto.com

Court Process

Depending on the case it can take between several months and several years for the court case to be finished. This long wait may be difficult for you. It is important to have support during this time. Visit our Court Process Page for more information.

Non-Criminal Options

As a survivor of sexual assault there are non-criminal options available to you.

The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR) is a set of principles that guides how victims of crime should be treated at different stages of the criminal justice process.

A victim, according to this Act, is defined as an individual who has suffered physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss as the result of a crime.

The CVBR provides for the following statutory rights for victims of crime:

  • The Right to Information
  • The Right to Participation
  • The Right to Protection
  • The Right to Restitution

For more information on the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights you can search “Victims of Crime” at www.canada.ca

As a survivor of sexual assault there are a few options available with respect to financial compensation, listed below.

Victim Quick Response Program (VQRP)

Ministry of Attorney General c/o Victim Services Branch,
Victim Services Toronto
416-808-7066

The VQRP provides short-term assistance to victims of sexual assault who report to police, a sexual assault centre, hospital and/or other community agency.

For more information or to review eligibility guidelines please contact Victim Services Toronto at 416-808-7066, or you can search “Victims of Crime” at www.canada.ca.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB)

www.cicb.gov.on.ca
1-800-372-7463

The CICB provides financial compensation for victims who have been injured by violent crime in Ontario, which includes sexual assault. Compensation may be awarded even if no charges were laid or if there was no conviction in a criminal proceeding. The CICB may award compensation for medical, therapy and/or counselling expenses, along with income loss, pain and suffering for injuries and/or support of a child born as a result of a sexual assault.

There are lawyers who focus on survivors of childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual assault. The purpose of obtaining a Civil Sexual Assault lawyer is for financial compensation. You can sue the offender and you can sue an institution if one was involved.

The Toronto Police Service is unable to recommend a specific lawyer. If you would like to contact a lawyer, you can refer to any of the resources on our community resources page. If the accused is found not guilty in the criminal process, you can still proceed with a civil lawyer for financial compensation.

Download a copy of the Guide to Sexual Assault in your language

This Project has been made possible by a grant from the Government of Ontario

For the purpose of this website, the Toronto Police Service has used “survivor” as an umbrella term to refer to anyone who has been sexually assaulted. However, we support a person’s right to choose how they wish to be identified. It is also important to note, this is not legal advice. Every effort is made to provide precise information, however your rights and a police officer’s responsibilities depend on the situation. If, at any time, you're unsure of your rights you can ask the police officer. They are required to tell you. The Toronto Police Service bears no responsibility for information on other websites. While we strive to maintain accurate and survivor-focused resources, it cannot be guaranteed. This project has been made possible by a grant from the Government of Ontario.