Call 911 to help someone who is in immediate danger, or when you do not feel safe stepping in to help someone.
Everyone can play a part in preventing sexual harassment and assault.
Sexual violence, whether it is unwanted touching, inappropriate comments or the expectation of sex, is never okay. It is a human rights violation – and it is illegal.
You can be an ally and support survivors by:
- never blaming the survivor
- talking to your children about consent and healthy relationships
- participating in public awareness programs
- getting your organization to promote training programs for professionals
- volunteering or donating to organizations that work to prevent sexual violence and support survivors
- raising awareness about sexual violence in your community
How you can intervene
Even as a bystander, you can help stop sexual violence, sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Direct, distract, delegate, delay
Remember the 4 D’s as a way to intervene:
- Direct – Address the situation head-on. Calmly explain your concerns while ensuring the other person knows what they need to do in order to correct their behaviour:
- describe what you are concerned about
- express why it is concerning
- specify what you would like the other person to do instead
- highlight the positive consequences of addressing the behaviour
- Distract – Indirectly de-escalate the situation. You can do this by:
- changing the subject
- starting a conversation with the victim
- starting a loud conversation with someone else
- Delegate – Get someone else involved. Ask someone to call 911 if the incident is serious.
- Delay – Check in with the person you are worried about afterwards.
Source: The above list was adapted from the 5-Minute Friend training offered by the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton.
Besides the 4 D’s, you can intervene in these ways:
- If it is safe to do so, speak up and come to a victim’s defense if you witness sexual harassment and offer support.
- Call the police if you witness sexual assault.
- Tell the police if you see anyone adding something suspicious to another person’s drink.
- Check in with your friends and any vulnerable people to see that they get home safely.
- When dropping someone off at home, wait for them to get into their home safely when possible.
- Say ‘no’ if anyone tries to share explicit texts or images with another person or online.
- Refuse to join degrading conversations that keep sexism and sexual violence alive – and voice your disapproval.
If you have experienced sexual violence and need help, see Sexual violence – Get help.
Reporting child abuse, neglect or sexual exploitation
Anyone who suspects a child or youth is being abused, neglected or sexually exploited has a legal responsibility to report it.
File a report
By calling either the:
- local police department
- Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-387-KIDS (5437)
- help is available 24/7 in multiple languages
To find out more about what to do if you suspect a child or youth is being abused, neglected or sexually exploited, see Find supports for child abuse, neglect and sexual exploitation.
- For parents: Sexual exploitation – What every parent needs to know (PDF, 2.4 MB)
- For professionals: Protection of sexually exploited children (PDF, 5.3 MB)
Reporting the abuse of persons with disabilities
People with developmental disabilities are often at greater risk of being abused or taken advantage of by others. Abuse occurs when another person does something that harms or may harm you or others.
The warning signs of sexual abuse include:
- having pain or injury in their genital areas
- finding it difficult to walk or sit
- starting to act differently, such as sometimes behaving like a child
- beginning to suddenly act in sexual ways
To find out how to prevent, report and respond to the suspected abuse of anyone supported by the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program, see PDD – How to stay safe.
Reporting elder abuse
Elder abuse is any action or inaction that jeopardizes the health or well-being of an older adult. It can take several forms, including:
To find out how to recognize the signs of elder abuse and report it, see Elder abuse – Get help.