You can feel and do whatever you need to after a sexual assault. People can feel scared, upset, numb, angry, or just about anything. Some people want to file a report or press legal charges while others want to get support or move on. You can always choose what’s right for you. If you want help right away, you can call the Montréal Sexual Assault Center at 514 933-9007 any time.
It sometimes helps to learn about your options and places that can support you or help with the recovery process. You can also talk about it with people that you trust.
People can call something assault right after or years later and it’s just as true. Everyone can also choose how they define sexual assault. In this FAQ, we define sexual assault as any unwanted contact of a sexual nature. It can also mean any sexual activity where someone doesn’t consent.
Right after a sexual assault
Right after a sexual assault, your safety is most important. If you’re in danger or hurt, you can call 911. You can also call someone you trust to support you. You can do whatever you need to feel more comfortable and safe.
There are also free places in Montréal that can help. The Montréal Sexual Assault Center and the Sexual Assault Centre of the Mcgill Students Society (SACOMSS) have crisis phone lines, drop-in programs, and support groups. You can find their phone numbers and more about them at the end of this FAQ.
Going to a hospital or clinic
There are a few places in Montréal that give medical help for sexual assaults. They can have many options to choose from:
- Emergency birth control
- Post-Exposure Prophylaxis to lower the risk for HIV
- Forensic exams, sometimes called rape kits
- STI testing
- Medical exams and treatment
- In-person support
- Information on talking to the police and making a police report
|Montréal Children’s Hospital (MCH)
|Montréal General Hospital
You can bring someone you trust or a support worker with you to a hospital or clinic.
Doctors can find the most evidence if you see them right after a sexual assault. If you want to go, it helps if you don’t shower or change your clothes. They can still find evidence up to 5 days after an assault. If you’re over 14, doctors have to keep your information private. But if you’re under 18, healthcare workers are legally required to report the assault to the police.
Telling healthcare providers about any medications, drugs, or alcohol that you took can lower your risk for bad medication interactions. If you took any of these illegally, there’s a risk that police might get involved. Doctors will give you any treatment that you need before you talk to police.
Reporting a sexual assault
You can choose whether to file a police report after a sexual assault. If you file a report, police will ask very detailed questions. After you file a report, they’ll write down the name of the detective and the police report number. You can keep these safe in case you want to follow up.
Filing a police report doesn’t mean that you have to press charges. At this stage, you can choose to continue or end the legal process. You can also file a report and choose to move forward with some legal options at a later time.
There are two kinds of charges you can press against a perpetrator of sexual assault: criminal and civil. One of the main differences between criminal and civil charges is that criminal charges are filed by police, and civil charges are filed by the survivor and their legal team. There is no statute of limitations, or time limit, on criminal charges for sexual assault. There are limitations on civil charges that vary from province to province.
Reporting or not reporting a sexual assault is a personal decision. It can help to talk about your options with someone you trust.
There’s no wrong way to react to a sexual assault. People can change how they feel about an event over time and that’s okay. Remember that what happened isn’t your fault and it doesn’t define who you are. It’s okay if someone isn’t able to disclose an assault for a long time. It’s never too late to need or ask for support in dealing with an assault.
Some survivors heal by getting support from friends and other people they trust. A few places mentioned above have free programs like active listening, counselling, and group therapy.
It might help to calm down in a place where you’re comfortable. You can also get in touch with your body by meditating or exercising. It may help to support yourself by doing something you enjoy. This could be taking a bath, watching a movie, or eating your favorite meal. Some people like doing something creative like drawing, journaling, or making music.