Sexual Violence & Consent

SASSL’s Definition of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any unwanted advance, phrase, gesture, implied meaning, touch, or any other sexual act to which you have not consented. It also includes the event of someone being forced to perform sexual acts against their will. Sexual assault violates a person’s boundaries, trust, and feelings of safety. It is determined by a lack of consent, and not by the act itself.

Most sexual assaults are committed by someone we know. Whether if it happened recently or historically, we here for support. You do not have to be a York student to access our services.

Sexual assault is about power, not attraction. It occurs in all kinds of relationships, and anyone can be assaulted. No one ever deserves to be assaulted.


Sexual assault occurs when consent is absent. When absent, it is a criminal offense under Canadian law. Consent is expressed permission, agreement, and approval that is freely given. You and your partner(s) are responsible for ensuring there is consent prior to and during any sexual act. At any point during a sexual act, you and your partner(s) have the right to withdraw consent. This means that consent must be an active process, without the influence of coercion. One should never assume consent.

  • Consent is active and continuous, not passive or silent.
  • It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in physical contact or sexual activity to make sure that they have consent from the other person(s) involved.
  • Consent is not the absence of “no” or silence.
  • Consent to one sexual act does not constitute or imply consent to a different sexual act.
  • Consent is required regardless of the parties’ relationship status or sexual history together.
  • Consent cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs or who is unconscious (including being asleep) or otherwise lacks the capacity to give consent.
  • Consent is not possible if an individual uses their position of power or authority to manipulate someone into saying  “yes.”
  • If a survivor’s judgement is impaired, consent is not valid.

University can be be great place to learn, make friends, and create new memories. No matter how much you drink, no matter what you choose to wear NO MEANS NO. Consent should be given enthusiastically and willingly. Consent can be retracted at anytime and the need to clarify consent is ongoing – i.e if someone has kissing, it does not mean they have consented to sex. If someone is drunk or under the influence drugs, they cannot legally consent to engaging in any form of sexual activity.

We Believe You

After can experience sexual violence, there are many possible reactions you might experience. These could include anxiety, anger, depression, insomnia, self-blame, physical symptoms, denial, decreased sex drive, numbness, or eating disorders, to name a few. These conditions may be brief or they may persist for months or years after an assault.

Everyone is different and their responses will be different too. All reactions are normal. It’s alright to feel however you feel. Please know that we are here to support you, and help in any way we can. Call us to explore your options.