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.
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. 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.
The following choices are available to a survivor of sexual assault:
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
3030 Birchmount Road
Toronto, ON M1W 3W3
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a survivor of sexual assault there are non-criminal options available to you.
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.