SASSL exists to provide unbiased and non-judgmental peer support and referrals to survivors of sexual violence. We provide a 24 hour crisis line during the school year and walk-in support at our Student Centre office, in addition to educational outreach programs and information sessions on the York University campus and in the GTA.
Most sexual assaults are committed by someone we know. Whether it’s recent or it happened a long time ago, being at school can bring up issues about sexual assault. Luckily, the campus has several resources that can help you.
University is the perfect place to make friends and build new memories, but just remember: No matter how much you drink, what you’re wearing, or “how far you go” with someone,
SASSL volunteers are trained in a variety of areas to recognize the diversity that shapes everyday life in the GTA. We know that all types of factors influence people’s lives… READ MORE
SASSL was founded in 1995 with the support of the York University administration. The original motivation came from York’s Sexual Harassment Education and … READ MORE
SASSL is looking for enthusiastic folks with an understanding (or a willingness to learn!) about feminism and anti-oppression. Our volunteers come from diverse… READ MORE
In 1999, SASSL became recognized as an important presence on campus when York students elected SASSL to receive a $2.10 tuition levy. The levy is distributed across… READ MORE
Do I have to be female to use SASSL’s services?
No. SASSL supports people of all genders, which includes, but is not limited to: gender queer folks, cis/trans women and cis/trans men.
Do I have to be a York student to use SASSL’s services?
The primary services SASSL offers are our walk-in support, in our office (see contact us for more details), as well as through our anonymous 24/7 support line. At SASSL we recognize the importance of anonymity as well as confidentiality. SASSL also hosts various events and workshops throughout the year (see our Events page for more details). With this being said, SASSL offers support to any individuals who reach out to us on campus. As such, many of our services are prioritized for York students however anyone is welcome to reach out to our organization for support.
Do I have to have been sexually assaulted to call SASSL?
No. Anyone can call, for any reason. We specialize in issues related to sexual violence, which includes a wide variety of issues and struggles. For example, if you have never been assaulted, but fear being assaulted, have a friend or family member who has been assaulted, are triggered by sexual assault etc. feel free to call SASSL or use our walk-in support anytime.
Does my assault/s have to be legally defined as ‘rape’ for me to use SASSL’s services?
No. SASSL’s definition of sexual assault covers a wide variety of actions that range from verbal/online harassment or threats to any unwanted sexual activity. We do not believe in a hierarchy of assaults where some types are worse than others.
Does my assault/s have to have happened on campus or near campus for me to use SASSL’s services?
No. Whether it’s an assault that happened at York, at home, or in another country, you can call SASSL for peer support and referrals.
Does my assault/s have to have happened recently for me to use SASSL’s services?
No. At SASSL we recognize that healing after an assault is a very personal experience that can take any amount of time, ranging from days, months, to many years depending on the person who is affected. It doesn’t matter if the assault happened yesterday, or 20 years ago. There is no time limit for being affected by an assault. You deserve support whenever you feel you need it and SASSL is here for you.
Do I have to be a feminist to use SASSL’s services?
No. We do not ask about your personal or political beliefs when we provide support. SASSL is an openly feminist organization, which means that we are committed to fighting varying modes of oppression in relation to the oppression of women and trans people. . Regardless of any of our beliefs as an organization, our support services are open, confidential, and anonymous. What is most important to us is that those who call us receive the support and referrals that they need, not what their personal or political beliefs entail.
Feminist!? Doesn’t that mean you won’t support men?
No. To SASSL, feminism means a fight against patriarchal norms, which compose certain roles for ‘men’ and ‘women’ in a binary category of gender. As a feminist organization, we recognize that these norms contribute to the rates of sexual assault and the nature of sexual assault against all genders.
Cis/trans women and gender queer folks are more likely to be sexually assaulted because they are oppressed due to their genders, which is further complicated by other markers of identity, such as race, disability, and age . In stating this, we are not saying that men are never assaulted, or that they are rarely assaulted. Patriarchal gender norms assume male supremacy, and male strength, which makes the general public believe that men cannot be sexually assaulted. As a result, male survivors are often ridiculed and accused of lying. By fighting patriarchy, we fight the oppression of cis/trans women and gender queer folks, while at the same time combating these harmful norms that negatively impact male survivors of sexual assault.
Intersectional feminism? What does that mean?
Intersectional feminism is a movement that recognizes that gender oppression is connected to other forms of oppression including, but not limited to, , racism, classism, xenophobia, colonialism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism . This means that gender oppression is inseparable from these other issues. As an organization we strive for intersectionality and inclusivity in our work, in an effort to help survivors who are marginalized for multiple reasons, for instance racialized women who are also cash poor. . We hope to continually grow and change as an organization to accommodate more populations. Our aim is growth because we recognize that our services are not necessarily perfect or 100% inclusive. As a result we are open to suggestions by our service users.
I feel as though a member of SASSL has been oppressive towards me/someone that I know, or that SASSL services are inaccessible to me. What can I do about this?
Your voice is important and you deserve to have your concerns taken seriously. There are several ways that you can contact SASSL to voice your concerns.
The most anonymous ways to contact SASSL are:
Our tumblr is: http://sasslyorku.tumblr.com/
Office phone: 416-736-2100 ext. 40345
Other options for contacting members of SASSL are:
(click to enlarge image)
This is the first of SASSL’s new Myth a Month educational posters. Our social media pages will provide supplemental information and additional statistics to the posters. A list of sources is available as well.
Sexual assaults mostly happen in the middle of the night. If you don’t want to be assaulted, just don’t go out at night.
Sexual assaults can happen at any time of the day and in any given location. In fact, sexual assaults that occur out on the streets in the middle of the night are less common than assaults that occur inside, such as at institutions and in private homes.
This myth perpetuates the idea that it is someone’s own fault for being assaulted, and encourages the idea that a survivor, as opposed to the perpetrator, should take responsibility for the sexual assault.
Nobody is at fault for being assaulted:
no matter where they are,
no matter what time it is,
no matter what they’re doing, what they’re drinking or what they’re wearing!
Nobody should have to police their movements in order to avoid assault. This is both impossible and unfair.
• 43% of sexual assaults occur between 6:00 pm and 12:00 am
• 33% of sexual assaults occur between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm
This accounts for 76% assaults occurring during the daytime; only 24% of assaults actually occur late at night (between 12:00am – 6:00 am).
(U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997)
This myth stems from the belief that sexual assaults occur primarily in the streets and other locations perceived to be more dangerous than private homes or commercial buildings.
“According to the 2004 GSS, more than half (51%) of sexual assault incidents occurred in a commercial or institutional establishment, followed by a residence or surrounding location (31%), a street or other public place (12%), or in another location (6%).”
(Government of Canada, 2008, para. 12)
The U.S. Department of Justice found that:
• 4 in 10 take place at the victim’s home.
• 2 in 10 take place at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative.
(U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997)
The statistics for location of most assaults are further complicated when the nature of the assault is taken into account.
“The location of the incident varied with the specific offence type. More than half (56%) of sexual attacks occurred in and around a residence; whereas, over half (57%) of incidents of unwanted sexual touching occurred in a commercial establishment.”
(Government of Canada, 2008, para. 13)
These statistics show that very few sexual assaults occur in the streets; the majority of assaults occur either in the home or in commercial institutions.
Sexual assaults are not dependent on how ‘dangerous’ or ‘safe’ a particular location is. People being assaulted in their own homes and workplaces shows that sexual assault is a crime that is much more complicated than the potential danger of the spaces in which it takes place.
Nobody should be expected to monitor their movements, travels, or schedules in order to ‘protect’ themselves from assault. Sexual violence is an issue that is society wide; it is not the responsibility of the survivor to not be sexually assaulted.
1. Government of Canada (2008). The nature of sexual offences. Statistics Canada. Retrieved fromhttp://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85f0033m/2008019/findings-resultats/nature-eng.htm
2. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (1997). An analysis of data on rape and sexual assault: Sex offences and offenders. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/SOO.PDF
(click to enlarge image)
This is SASSL’s monthly myth for January! Here are the supplemental information and statistics.
Cis: Someone whose gender identity matches the gender that they were assigned at birth (ex: a person born with a uterus and vagina who identifies as female in a culture where a uterus and vagina are equated with female gender identification)
Trans: Someone whose gender identity does not match the gender that they were assigned at birth. (ex: a person born with a penis and testicles who identifies as female in a culture where a penis and testicles is equated with male gender identification)
The term ‘trans’ in many cases also includes people who identify their gender on a spectrum outside of just “male” and “female” (ex: someone who identifies as gender queer, meaning that they identify as both male and female, or neither male nor female) but keep in mind that some people prefer not to be categorized as cis or trans.
Only ‘women’ can be sexually assaulted – men cannot be assaulted, and trans people can only be assaulted if they have female body parts.
People of all genders are sexually assaulted – Everyone, regardless of gender, deserves to be supported.
Although the majority of sexual assaults are against women and trans people, this doesn’t mean that assaults against all other genders do not happen or that these assaults do not matter.
Everyone deserves to be supported and heard regardless of gender identity. Violence is something that can be committed against anyone, no matter what their body is like, who they see themselves as or what their other characteristics are.
Sexual assault is directly linked to gender oppression, and as a result, women and trans people are assaulted more often than cis men. Sexual assault is also connected to other forms of oppression, including but not limited to, race, ability, class, and sexuality. In our society, people who face these oppressions mentioned above are more likely to experience violence, especially if a person belongs to more than one oppressed group. This means that gender plays a major role in affecting who is sexually assaulted, however it is not the only factor to be considered when studying these issues. For instance, “two-thirds (67%) of homicide victims [are] transgender women of color” (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 2013). This is a result of transphobia, sexism and racism.
Power imbalances are almost always present in cases of sexual assault and other forms of voilence. Quite often these power imbalances are related to gender, which is why most assaults are committed by men against women (Information for Canadian Victims of Sexual Abuse, 2014). But, this is not the only power imbalance that exists in our society, which can be present in other cases of sexual assault. All cases of sexual assault deserve attention and recognition, even if they do not fit the norm.
Many people, for example, believe that a cis female cannot sexually assault a cis male, because of the belief that cis men need to be sexually aroused in order for intercourse to be possible. However, purely physiological arousal can be achieved under emotional duress such as anger, fear, and pain, even if the person does not wish it. This is true for cis men’s bodies, as well as all other body types (Greenberg, Bruess and Haffner, 576; Lips, 234). Forced sexual intercourse is also not the only form of sexual assault. Any unwanted sexual activity is sexual assault.
**Disclaimer: Due to the low number of Canadian Statistics available, some of the stats used here are American. The stats may differ due to the fact that Canada and the US have different legal definitions of rape and sexual assault, and different source populations to work from.**
“2.78 million men in the U.S. have been survivors of sexual assault.”
(U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 1998)
“In 2003, 1 in every 10 sexual assaults was on males.”
(U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003)
“One study on trans people found that 55% of FTM (female-to-male) and 68% of MTF (male-to-female) trans youth have been sexually assaulted.”
(Clements et al. 1998)
“83% of women and 32% of men with developmental disabilities in the study sample had been sexually assaulted.”
(Sobsey and Varnhagen, 1990)
“8% of women and 7% of men reported some type of violence by a common-law or marital partner in the 5 years preceding the survey. Of these, 20% of women and 3% of men reported being victims of at least one incident of sexual assault.
This is approximately 138,000 women and 14,000 men who were sexually assaulted by a spousal partner over the 5 year period preceding the study.”
(Juristat, General Social Survey, 1999)
“15% of sexual assault victims are boys under the age of 16”
(Information for Canadian victims of sexual abuse, 2014)
Greenberg, JS., Bruess, CE., & Haffner DW (2000). Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Clements, K., Marx, R., Guzman, R. et al. (1998). Prevalence of HIV infection in transgendered individuals in San Francisco. XII International Conference on AIDS, Geneva, Switzerland.
Information for Canadian Victims of Sexual Abuse (2014). Sexual Assault Statistics in Canada. [web log post] Retrieved from http://www.sexassault.ca/statistics.htm
Juristat General Social Survey. Sexual Offences in Canada: A Profile of Criminal Victimization. 23: 6. pp. 6.
Lips, HM (2001). Sex & Gender: An Introduction (4th ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.
National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (1998). Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/172837.pdf
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (2013). Media release. Retrieved from http://www.avp.org/storage/documents/2013_mr_ncavp_hvreport.pdf
Sobsey, D. and Varnhagen, C. (1990) Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of People with Disabilities: A Study of the Victims. Ottawa, ON: National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, Family Violence Prevention Division, Health Canada.
U.S. Department of Justice (2003). 2003 National Crime Victimization Survey. Retrieved fromhttp://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv03.pdf
(click to enlarge image)
Sexual assaults are mostly committed by strangers. If you don’t want to be assaulted, stay away from strange, dangerous people!
The majority of assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows.
Domestic violence/ Intimate Partner Violence accounts for a large number of sexual assaults that occur in North America, and yet, when most people think about sexual assault, they imagine something happening with a stranger in the middle of the night. Every day in Canada, over 3,300 women (along with their 3,000 children) need an emergency shelter to sleep in to escape domestic violence. Every night, approximately 200 women are turned away because there is not enough space in the shelters. (Burczycka & Cotter, 2011)
According to statistics Canada (2013), 75% of sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows. Of this 75% of assaults, 45% are casual acquaintances or friends, 13% are non-spousal family members and 17% are intimate partners.
Since the majority of assaults are committed by someone in the survivor’s life, it is unreasonable to ask them to stay away from potential abusers. Anyone could potentially be an abuser and it is not up to the victims/survivors to avoid the abuse.
As mentioned above, Intimate Partner Violence/ Domestic Violence accounts for a significant number of sexual assaults in North America.
“Intimate partner violence and abuse can be committed by a spouse, ex-spouse, a current or former common-law partner, a current or former girlfriend or boyfriend or a person in a dating relationship. The victim may think that she or he somehow provoked the abuse but the abuser is responsible for his or her own behaviour.” (RCMP, 2012)
Intimate partner violence, as well as other forms of assault is experienced at higher rates by people in marginalized groups.
“… people who identify as gay, lesbian, and bisexual experience intimate partner violence at rates equal to or greater than the general population and initial research shows that up to 50% of people who identify as transgender experience domestic violence over their lifetime.” (GLBTQDVP, n.d.)
“African American females experience intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 2.5 times the rate of women of other races. However, they are less likely than white women to use social services, battered women’s programs, or go to the hospital because of domestic violence.” (Women of Colour Network, 2006)
“Not only were Aboriginal women more likely than non-Aboriginal women to report experiences of violence and injury in spousal relationships, they were also more likely to report other forms of abuse by their spouse.” (Statistics Canada, 2009)
**Disclaimer: Due to the limited number of Canadian sources available, some of the sources used here are American. The stats may differ due to the fact that Canada and the US have different legal definitions of rape and sexual assault, and different source populations to work from.**
Burczycka, Marta & Cotter, Adam (2011) Shelters for Abuse Women in Canada, 2010. Statistics Canada. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2011001/article/11495-eng.htm
GLBTQDVP (n.d.) Domestic violence. Retrieved from http://www.glbtqdvp.org/our-work/domestic-violence/
RCMP (2012) Intimate partner violence and abuse: It can be stopped. Retrieved from http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cp-pc/pdfs/int_par-rel_int-eng.pdf
Statistics Canada (2013). Measuring violence against women: Statistical trends. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2013001/article/11766-eng.pdf
Statistics Canada (2009). Violent victimization of Aboriginal women in Canadian Provinces 2009. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2011001/article/11439-eng.htm
U.S. Department of Justice (2005) National Crime Victimization Study. 2005. Retrieved from http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/RCMD/studies/22746
Women of Colour Network (2006). Domestic violence communities of colour: Facts & stats collection. Retrieved from http://www.doj.state.or.us/victims/pdf/women_of_color_network_facts_domestic_violence_2006.pdf