Findings

Trends in sexual offences

Quantifying sexual assault continues to be a challenge, since the large majority (91%) of these crimes are not reported to police. According to self-reported victim data from the 2004 GSS on Victimization, approximately 512,200 Canadians aged 15 and older were the victims of a sexual assault in the 12 months preceding the survey. [Full text]

Criminal justice system response to sexual offences

In general, sexual offences are less likely to be cleared by police than other types of violent offences. In 2007, charges were laid in over a third of sexual offences reported to police compared to almost half of other types of violent crime. [Full text]

The nature of sexual offences

Victimization and police-reported data both indicate that less severe forms of sexual assault are most common. According to the 2004 GSS, the majority (81%) of self-reported sexual assault incidents took the form of unwanted sexual touching while sexual attacks accounted for approximately 1 in 5 incidents (19%). [Full text]

Impacts of victimization

Similar to the reactions of those who experienced other forms of violent crime, victims of sexual assault reported feeling a multitude of emotions in response to their victimization. The most common emotional reaction was anger (24%), followed by confusion and frustration (20%), shock and disbelief (16%), annoyance (16%), and fear (15%). [Full text]

Summary

Victimization data suggest that most incidents of sexual assault are not formally reported, with less than 1 in 10 coming to the attention of police. According to victimization data, the rates of sexual assault remained stable in recent years, while police-reported data show a trend of steady decline in offences coming to the attention of law enforcement. [Full text]