Sexual Assault Awareness Month

January is Sexual Assault Awareness Month at UBC

Join the conversation, keep learning, and stand up against sexual assault. You can help end the violence.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact within or outside a relationship

It can include anything from unwanted sexual touching to forced sexual intercourse without a person’s consent, and also includes the threat of sexual contact without consent.

Sexual assault affects people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations

Most people know the person who assaulted them. They can be someone the survivor knows a little, such as a first date, or very well, such as a good friend or partner. Sexual assault can involve situations where sexual activity is obtained by someone abusing a position of trust, power, or authority. Many people do not tell anyone of their assault, or even realize it was an assault, until months or years later.


Experienced by 15-25% of female students, 6.1% of male students, and 24% of transgender, genderqueer and questioning students

15 to 25% of female students1, 6.1% of male students2, and 24% of transgender, genderqueer and questioning students3 in college and university experience some form of sexual assault.

1 Developing a Response to Sexual Violence: A Resource Guide for Ontario’s Colleges and Universities, Ontario Women’s Directorate, 2013

2 Krebs, C.P., Lindquist, C.H., Warner, T.D., Fisher, B.S., & Martin, S.L. (2007). The Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) Study. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice

3 Cantor, D., Fisher, B., et al. (2015). Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct. Rockville, Maryland: The Association of American Universities.

Attend an event

Featured event: Denim Day

Wednesday, January 20
All day

Stand up for a respectful campus and ask the same of your friends. Wear denim, a Denim Day sticker, or both on January 20.

Featured event: Rethinking Sexualization – SAAM Keynote

Thursday, January 28
Julia Serano
12:30 pm, Liu Institute for Global Issues Multipurpose Room, 6476 NW Marine Drive

What can we, as individuals, do to confront and challenge sexualization? In this talk writer, performer, activist, and biologist Julia Serano provides a more holistic and intersectional view of sexualization.

2016 Events

Upcoming events

Currently there are no events available.

Wear a Denim Day sticker

Wear denim and a Denim Day sticker on January 20 to show that you're standing up against sexual assault. Get your sticker at the following locations:

Centre for Student Involvement and Careers

Sexual Assault Support Centre

Wellness Centre

Why denim?

In 1998 an Italian court overturned a rape charge because the victim was wearing tight jeans. The ruling stated that because the victim's jeans were tight, she had to have helped remove them and as a result gave consent to her attacker.

Enraged by the verdict, people around the world launched into protest, showing support for the victim by wearing denim to their places of work.

Stand up against sexual assault

Everyone has a role to play in preventing sexual assault.

Get consent

Consent is a voluntary and enthusiastic "yes!". It's needed for every sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.

  • Can not be assumed or implied from silence or the absence of 'no.'

    There is no consent if the person doesn't reply.

  • Can not be given if a person is affected by alcohol or drugs, or is unconscious.

    There is no consent if someone is impaired, incapacitated, asleep, or passed out.

  • Is revocable at any time.

    Consent does not exist if someone has said 'yes,' but then says 'no' later with words or body language.

Have healthy, respectful relationships

Healthy relationships can bring out the best in people. A healthy relationship has at least five important qualities:

  • safety

  • honesty

  • acceptance

  • respect

  • enjoyment

Be an active witness

An active witness is someone who observes unacceptable behavior targeted towards someone else and is brave enough to take action.

Assess the situation

The first step to being an active witness is assessing the situation when you notice unacceptable behaviour:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings.

  2. Decide 'in your gut' if what you witness is unacceptable, and ask yourself if you can play a role.

  3. Assess the options and risks for taking action, and decide whether to act now or later.

If you or others are in immediate danger or fear for your safety, call 9.1.1.


After assessing the situation, decide if and how you might intervene:

  • Interrupt the behaviour.

  • Use “I” statements: “I feel _____ when you ____. Please don’t do that anymore.”

  • Use humour when appropriate (e.g., “Ouch!”), or use body language or silence to show disapproval.

  • Change perspective: “What if someone just said that about someone you care about?”

Sexual assault is not the survivor's fault and is a violent crime. What clothes a person wore, where they were, who they were with, or whether they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of their assault is irrelevant. The only person responsible for a sexual assault is the person who commits the crime.

Find support

Support is available for survivors of sexual assault, and it’s OK to ask for help. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength.

If you or others are in immediate danger or fear for your safety, call 9.1.1.

Support survivors of sexual assault

If someone tells you they have been sexually assaulted:

Attend to safety

  • If someone is in immediate danger or needs urgent medical attention, call 9.1.1.

Provide support

  • Listen without interrupting. Encourage the survivor to take their time if necessary.

  • Understand that all individuals express or experience their reactions to an assault in different ways. Allow for tears and expression of feelings.

  • Encourage the survivor to seek the support they need and allow them to make their own decisions.