Gender Identity: refers to the gender that an individual identifies with. People may identify as male or female, gender non-binary, gender non-conforming and/or gender fluid. 

Gender-Based Violence: any form of behaviour - including psychological, physical and sexual behaviour - that is intended to control, humiliate or harm a person because of their gender. This may include emotional and verbal abuse, physical assault, sexual violence, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, homophobia and transphobia.

Marginalized Identity: refers to people from various communities that have been historically and systematically oppressed, often resulting in systemic disadvantages and violence. This can include communities impacted by discrimination on the basis of race, gender, Indigeneity, sexual identity, disability, age and citizenship status, among others.

Perpetrator: refers to the person who has caused harm.

Survivor: refers to the person who has experienced sexual violence. Some people refer to themselves as survivor, while others prefer victim. It is important to respect the preferred terminology.

Trans or transgender: refers to people whose gender does not align with the gender they were assigned at birth. This can include a trans woman, a trans man, a non-binary individual or a gender non-conforming individual, just to name a few. It is important to respect a person’s gender identity and use their chosen pronouns.

Statistics on Sexual Violence

  • One in three women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime
  • Over 80 per cent of sex crime survivors are women
  • The majority of perpetrators are known to survivors
  • Sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining
  • Sexual assault is the least likely crime to be reported to police

Sources:  Measuring Violence Against Women, Statistics Canada, 2006; Criminal Victimization in Canada, General Social Survey, Statistics Canada, 2014

What is sexual violence at work?

Sexual violence includes any act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender expression or gender identity[i] that is committed, attempted or threatened against a person without their consent[ii]. It can be physical or psychological.

Workplace sexual violence occurs when a worker experiences any forced sexual acts or attempts to obtain them, or when they experience any unwanted sexual comments or advances. Sexual violence includes harassment, which is offensive behaviour that a reasonable person would consider unwelcome. Sexual violence at work has serious and negative impacts on the survivor’s mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health and wellbeing.[iii]

Sexual violence at work includes:[iv]

  • Unwelcome sexual remarks and jokes
  • Unwanted advances from a person in a position of power
  • Spreading sexual rumours
  • Public display of sexual photos, drawings, comics, graffiti
  • Repeated and unwanted invitations to socialize
  • Offering benefits in exchange for sex
  • Making threats if sexual advances are refused
  • Unwanted touch
  • Sexual assault and rape
  • Stalking

All sexual violence at work is harmful and must be treated seriously.

Sexual violence is about power and control.

The perpetrator of sexual violence at work may be:

  • A supervisor, manager, board member or other employer representative
  • A co-worker
  • A client, patient, student, parent or service user
  • A contractor, member of the public, family member or intimate partner of the survivor

Sexual violence at work can occur:

  • At a worksite
  • At work-related functions, such as conferences, training sessions and work-related social gatherings
  • While travelling for work
  • While providing services outside of the office, for example, in a client’s home
  • Online and through social media

Who is impacted by sexual violence?
Consent 101


[i] METRAC, Presentation to CUPE’s National Post-Secondary Task Force, 2018.

[ii] Ryerson University, Sexual Violence Policy, 2016.

[iii] Krug et al., eds., World report on violence and health. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2002. p. 149

[iv] Based on METRAC, Presentation to CUPE’s National Post-Secondary Task Force, 2018.