What is Date/Acquaintance Sexual Assault?

Please note that we are using the term sexual assault instead of rape to align with the Criminal Code of Canada and highlight that any type of unwanted touch is wrong and illegal.

When people think of rape or sexual assault, they might think of a stranger jumping out of a shadowy place and sexually attacking someone. But it is not only strangers who sexually assault. In fact, about half of all people who are sexually assaulted know the person who attacked them. Girls and women statistically experience highest rates of sexual assault, but anyone can be sexually assaulted including boys, men and non-binary individuals. When sexual assault occurs between people who already know each other, it is known as ‘date sexual assault’ or ‘acquaintance sexual assault’.

Acquaintance sexual assault consists of using physical force, emotional bargaining, blackmail or mind games to force sexual intercourse, fondling, kissing, holding or any other sexual contact. If it is against the person’s will, it is against the law. Being in a relationship does not entitle someone to sex or another person’s body. Consent, a person’s permission to engage in a particular activity, is still required and must be ongoing regardless of whether or not sex has been had in the past. Although sexual assault involves forced sexual activity, sexual assault is not about love or passion. Sexual assault is an act of aggression and violence.

Healthy relationships involve respect – including respect for the feelings of others. Someone who really cares about you will respect your wishes and not force or pressure you to have sex.

Effects of Sexual Assault

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted it is not uncommon to have a wide range of emotions and symptoms. Even if counselling wasn’t sought initially (most victims don’t) counselling can help months or even years after the assault.

Some of the emotions a victim may experience include guilt, inability to trust, fear, isolation, depression, anger, low self-esteem and a fear of intimacy. Physical symptoms may include anxiety attacks, headaches and disruption in eating and sleep patterns. Long-term effects may include isolation, guilt, shame, anger, obsessive behaviours, disruption of normal sex life, flashbacks, eating disorders, addictions, sleep disorders and chronic depression.

If someone you care about has been sexually assaulted, you may also be experiencing emotional trauma such as nightmares, anger, guilt, isolation, depression, etc. You may find counselling for yourself helpful as well.

For more information on sexual assault and consent click here.


All people are potential victims, regardless of gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, education or physical description.

  • One of every 17 Canadian women is raped at some point in her life
  • A woman is sexually assaulted by forced intercourse every 17 minutes in Canada
  • Girls and young women between the ages of 15-24 are the most likely victims
  • 80% of assaults happen in the victim’s home
  • 70% of rapes are committed by a perpetrator who knows the victims (relative, friend, neighbour, colleague, or other acquaintance)
  • Approximately one half of all rapes occur on dates
  • 62% of victims are physically injured in the attack; 9% are beaten severely or disfigured
  • Statistics Canada has found that one in four girls and one in eight boys have been sexually abused by the time they are eighteen.

Source: Justice Institute of British Columbia