As a teenager or young adult, it is important to be aware of the positive and negative relationships you develop. We hope you find this information useful.
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What is a healthy relationship? View PDF
Good, satisfying and healthy relationships are an important part of a happy life. Learning to create and maintain healthy relationships should be a basic life skill, but is not a skill that is talked about or taught. For young people, dating relationships are very important so it’s a good idea to talk about what we want and don’t want in a relationship. Dating should be healthy, age appropriate, mutual, respectful and safe
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your relationship.
IN GENERAL, DO YOU FEEL:
• Safe and comfortable with each other?
• You can share information honestly and openly?
• You listen to each other?
• You support each other?
• You work on problems together?
• You share decision-making?
• You respect each other?
If you answered Yes to these questions, it seems you are in a healthy relationship.
IN GENERAL, DO YOU FEEL:
• The other person does not listen to you or does not understand you?
• Your opinions and ideas are no good and are not respected?
• You cannot trust the other person?
• You are uneasy in expressing your thoughts and feelings?
• The other person makes all the decisions?
• The other person criticizes you or humiliates you in front of your family and friends?
• The other person tries to control who you can see and what you can do?
If you answered Yes to any of these questions, then you may be in an unhealthy relationship.
What is an abusive relationship?
There are many forms of abuse. Below is a sample of what we mean:
Does the other person sometimes:
• Knock you over or push you?
• Hit you with their hands or with an object?
• Kick or punch you?
• Strangle you?
Does the other person sometimes:
• Insult you and call you names?
• Degrade you and make you believe that you are stupid?
• Control you and blame you for everything?
• Isolate you from your friends or family?
• Tell you what to do, when to do it, where to go and how to get dressed?
• Swear at you?
• Keep you in a state of fear by telling you he’ll hurt you or kill you?
• Talk about suicide if you leave?
Does the other person sometimes:
• Kiss you or caress you when you don’t want him to?
• Touch your private parts when you don’t want him to?
• Force you to have sex?
• Insult you during sex?
• Force you to participate in sexual acts that you don’t want to?
How can I create healthy relationships?
Boundaries are an important part of healthy relationships. Understanding your own needs and wishes, and setting your own boundaries accordingly, is an important part of learning about who you are. Here are some things that you have the right to expect in your relationships:
• having your personal space respected
• deciding who touches you, when you are touched, and how you are touched
• having your personal property respected
• having the right not to be reduced to a sex object
• having the right to decide if, when and how you want sex
• having the right to your own opinions and thoughts
• having the right not to be shamed or belittled
• having the right not to be manipulated or lied to
• having the right to say no and have your decision respected
What is sexual assault?
Sexual violence refers to a whole range of behaviours – sexual assault, incest, harassment, stalking, exploitation, child pornography, voyeurism etc. Sexual assault is any action involving some form of sexual contact – from touching, grabbing to penetration – if it is done without consent.
Rape is generally understood as penetration, and is not the only form of sexual assault.
Rape is referred to as sexual assault in Canada.
Things to remember about sexual assault:
• Most sexual assaults are committed by friends, family members and acquaintances of the victim
• Sexual assault can happen to anyone of any age, gender, class or orientation
• Most cases of sexual assault go unreported
• Sexual assault does not always cause visible injuries to the victim
• Weapons are rarely used in sexual assaults. Usually threats and manipulations are used to intimidate and coerce a victim into submission
• People who commit sexual assaults come from all kinds of backgrounds, and are not usually mentally ill
What is date/acquaintance rape?
Date rape / sexual assault happens when a person is forced to be sexual with someone they date or go out with.
Acquaintance rape / sexual assault happens when a person is forced to be sexual with someone they know, such as a friend, co-worker, neighbour, or classmate.
What is consent?
To understand sexual assault, we need to talk about consent. What does it mean? What are the laws around consent? It is very important that you understand your rights and responsibilities in terms of consent.
What does consent mean?
Consensual sex is when both people have agreed to be sexual with each other. Consent must be given voluntarily, which means freely and willingly. Everyone has the right to choose if or when they engage in sexual activity.
You have to give people space to really say “yes”. It is not consent if a person is being manipulated or coerced into submitting through:
• Pressuring (until worn down)
• Threatening (break up)
• Intimidating (smashing something)
• Blackmailing (I’ll tell everyone …)
• Guilt tripping (if you loved me)
It is never okay for someone to manipulate you to be sexual. Even if you flirt or initiate a relationship, you do not owe sex. You never owe sex. You have the right to decide to not have sex. You have the right to change your mind.
It is never OK to force yourself on another person. Even if she/he
• Dresses provocatively or leads you on
• She/he says “no” and you think she/he means “yes”
• You’ve had sex before with her/him
• You’ve spent money on her/him
• You think people enjoy being forced to have sex or just need to be persuaded
• The person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Consent is more complicated than just saying “yes”. There are many other ways of communicating.
Not understanding “NO”
No means NO.
Not now means NO.
I have a boy/girlfriend means NO.
Maybe later means NO.
You’re not my type means NO.
I’d rather be alone right now means NO.
Don’t touch me means NO.
I really like you but…. means NO.
Let’s just go to sleep means NO.
I’m not sure means NO.
You’ve/I’ve been drinking means NO.
Silence means NO.
What is Not Consent
Dressing in a sexy way IS NOT CONSENT
Having said yes before IS NOT CONSENT
Saying nothing IS NOT CONSENT
Being drunk IS NOT CONSENT
Dancing and staying out late IS NOT CONSENT
Being in love IS NOT CONSENT
Being married IS NOT CONSENT
Consenting to one kind of activity is not consenting to another IS NOT CONSENT
Being a flirt IS NOT CONSENT
Arousal IS NOT CONSENT
Orgasm IS NOT CONSENT
What are the laws around consent?
The Criminal Code of Canada outlines a number of situations that do not constitute consent, including:
• agreement by a third party (you can only consent for yourself, not someone else)
• when a person is incapable of consenting (you need to be sober enough, not unconscious, drugged or passed out)
• when there is an abuse of authority (you cannot consent to someone in a position of trust or authority over you)
• when the person expresses through words or conduct that they do not consent
• when a person agrees to sexual activity, but then expresses by words of conduct that they do not wish to continue (you have the right to change your mind at any time)
• when the victims believes he or she will suffer physical violence
What is the age of consent?
The age of consent refers to the minimum age at which a person is considered capable of legally giving informed consent to engage in sexual activity. This law is meant to protect children and teenagers who society feels are too young to fully understand the consequences of entering into sexual relationships, and who may be vulnerable to exploitation from older persons. There are exemptions to the age of consent, to allow for youth to engage in consensual sexual activity amongst their peers. The age of consent in Canada was changed on May 1, 2008, from fourteen years old to sixteen years old. In Canada, the laws are:
Under 12 years – Can never give consent Over age 12 – below age 14 – Can consent to sexual activity with a person who is not more than two years older and who is not in a relationship of trust or authority.
Over age 14 and under age 16 – Can consent to sexual activity with a person who is not more than 5 years older and who is not in a position of trust or authority. Mistaken belief in age is not a defense, unless reasonable steps to confirm age have been taken.
Any person under the age of eighteen cannot consent to sexual activity that is exploitative ( including prostitution, pornography) or to a person who is in a relationship of trust or authority
Who is a person of trust or authority?
Laws of consent are designed to protect young people who are especially vulnerable because of their relationships with certain people.
A person in a position of authority is someone who has power over a young person, such as a sports coach, teacher, or employer.
A person in a position of trust is someone who a child believes is supposed to protect them and who they feel safe with. This could be a family member, guardian, family friend
What can I do if I have been sexually assaulted?
Right after the assault:
• Try to leave the situation
• Try to get to a safe place
Once you are safe:
• It’s important to tell someone – friend, family member, or call the Rape and Sexual Assault Center for support and information at 566-1864.
• It is important to see a doctor for possible injury, pregnancy, or sexually transmitted diseases
• Continue to get support while you deal with the effects of the assault
• Remember – it was not your fault
• Decide whether you want to tell the police.
Reporting to the police:
It is your choice to report to the police. If you decide you want to report the assault, there are some steps you should take. Immediately after the assault:
• Keep the clothes you were wearing; do not wash them
• Do not shower, douche or bathe
• Keep anything that could serve as evidence to identify your attacker
• If you were drugged, try to save some of the drugged drink
• Go to the hospital immediately
How can I prevent sexual assault?
How can I prevent date or acquaintance rape? Society offers advice to women about how they should behave in order to avoid getting assaulted. The logical conclusion is that if she didn’t follow the rules and got assaulted, then it must be her fault. This is called victim-blaming. That is why victims often blame themselves, feel shame and guilt, and are hesitant to report or to tell anyone. Victim blaming also does nothing to hold the perpetrator responsible, and seems to suggest that assaults are always going to happen and that you just have to learn to better protect yourself.
• Do not assume you know what your partner wants. Ask
• Be sensitive to people who are unsure whether they want to have sex. If you put pressure on them, you may be forcing them.
• Do not assume you both want the same degree of intimacy. She/he may be interested in some sexual contact other than intercourse.
• If you have any doubts about what your partner wants, STOP.ASK.CLARIFY.
• Your desires may be beyond your control, but your actions are within your control. Sexual excitement does not justify forced sex.
• Not having sex or not “scoring” does not mean you are not a “real man”. It is OK not to “score”.
• A person who turns you down for sex is not necessarily rejecting you as a person; she/he is expressing her/his decision to not participate in a single act at that time.
• No one asks to be raped. No matter how a person behaves, she/he does not deserve to have her/his body used in ways she/he does not want.
• “No” means no. It does not mean “try harder” or “she’s playing hard to get”
• Taking sexual advantage of a person who is mentally or physically incapable of giving consent (for example, drunk) is sexual assault. If a person has had too much to drink and has passed out, or is not in control of her/himself, having sex with them is against the law.
• The fact that you were intoxicated is not a legal defense. You are responsible for your actions, whether you are sober or not.
• Be aware that a man’s size and physical presence can be intimidating.
What are some of the safety issues in using social media? View PDF
The use of social media sites, especially by young people, is increasing daily. It’s a great way to stay connected with friends and acquaintances. However, we hear more and more about how these sites can be used to hurt and exploit people.
Let’s talk about how we can keep safe and act responsibly when using the internet.
cybersafe girls View PDF
Gender and Diversity
What is Diversity?
Diversity is about all the ways we are different from one another. The PEI Rape and Sexual Assault Centre appreciates, respects and accepts individual differences, particularly when it comes to gender and sexual expression. We are open to assisting all persons who are dealing with sexual violence in their lives. Confidentiality and non-judgmental attitudes are very important to us.
What is Gender?
Although we often use the terms “sex” and “gender” to mean the same thing, they are different. “Sex”
is a biological term. It includes physical attributes, such as sex chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive structures and external genitalia. At birth, it is used to identify male or female babies.“Gender”
is more complicated. As well as one’s physical traits, it refers to one’s sense of self (as male, female both or neither) as well as one’s outward presentation and behaviours. From the moment we are born we are bombarded with expectations about how we should behave as male or female.The Gender Spectrum
We tend to think there are only two genders, male and female. However, there are many possibilities that include not only biological attributes, but gender expression and gender identity.
This is a term that recognizes that many people do not fit into the usual gender norms.
Gender TerminologyGender Identity
– one’s concept of self as male female both or neither can be the same or different than the sex assigned at birth. Consciousness of this begins as early as 18 months – 3 years of age. Some people’s gender identity does not match their assigned biological sex.Gender Expression
– refers to how your express your gender identity, through behavior, clothing, hair, voice, jobs, interests. Gender expression should not be viewed as an indication of sexual orientation.
Sexual Orientation – refers to being romantically or sexually attracted to people of a specific gender. Not the same as gender identity.Gender Role
– the set of roles, activities expectations and behaviours that our society assigns to females and males. Transgender
- a person whose gender identity does not match their assigned birth gender. It does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identity as straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual. Gender Normative
– people whose sex assignment at birth corresponds to their gender identity and expression
Public Health Agency of Canada (2010). Questions and answers: Gender identity in schools. Retrieved from http://www.education.gov.sk.ca/Q-and-A-gender-identity
Public Health Agency of Canada (2010). Questions and answers: Sexual orientation in schools. Retrieved from http://www.education.gov.sk.ca/Q-and-A-sexualorientation
St Pierre, M., & Senn, C. Y. (2010). External barriers to help-seeking encountered by Canadian gay and lesbian victims of intimate partner abuse: An application of the barriers model. Violence and Victims, 25(4), 536-52.
Toronto District School Board (2013). Definitions. Retrieved from http://www.tdsb.on.ca/_site/ViewItem.asp?siteid=10471&menuid=27720&pageid=23861
|Unfounded - an investigation into how police services handle allegations of sexual assault
Read about the 20 month investigation done by reporters at the Globe and Mail www.tgam.ca/unfounded.Read More >
AGM 2016 Report
Read about the activities of the Centre for the 2015-2016 fiscal yearRead More >
We currently have a wait list for counselling sessions addressing historical sexual abuse and/or past sexual assault. If you have experienced a sexual assault recently, however, you will not have to wait, and we will see you as soon as possible.
The length of the wait list varies, and it is not possible to predict accurately how long the wait might be. We know it takes courage to ask for help, and it can feel discouraging to be asked to wait. While waiting, we encourage anyone seeking more immediate support to check out other resources that might be available, such as an E.A.P. or personal benefit program. Read More >
Supporting An Adult Survivor of Sexual Assault in PEI
Download this posterRead More >
Men Matter: Group Programs for Male Survivors
A free service for men who are on a journey of recovery from sexual abuse. Read More >
Main Office 902.566.1864
Therapy Line 902.368.8055