Relationship Violence Including Assault

Sexual assault, physical assault, and emotional violence

The person you decide to date or become friends with should be supportive and encouraging—someone you have fun with and enjoy being around.

Unfortunately, this is not always the reality. As many as 25% of Canadian youth experience some form of assault in a dating relationship.

Some signs of a violent relationship

  • Ignoring your feelings and wishes
  • Name-calling and criticism
  • Teasing and ridiculing things that are important to you
  • Ignoring you or pretending not to hear you
  • Acting more friendly when the two of you are alone than when his/her friends are around
  • Keeping you away from your friends or putting them down
  • Sulking when you don’t do what she/he wants or threatening suicide
  • Showing anger and using threats or violence to get his/her own way
  • Encouraging or pressuring you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable
  • Refusing to accept your limits about sexual activity

Violence is not a part of love

You deserve a healthy relationship. No one has a right to hit you or harm you, to touch you where or how you don’t want to be touched, to threaten you or to make you feel small, stupid or useless.

Often people think that if someone they love is mad or violent with them, they’ve done something to deserve getting hurt.

Or they make excuses for the violence, believing it’s a sign of love and intense passion.

The truth is, violence is never about love, it’s about control—losing control, and wanting to control someone else. It is always wrong, and it can happen to anyone, male or female, in any relationship.

What is relationship violence?

There are three types: emotional abuse, physical assault, and sexual assault. They happen alone or all at once.

Emotional abuse is a pattern of destructive behaviour that attacks a person’s sense of self-worth and confidence, usually through repetitive criticisms, insults, threats, or controlling.

Physical assault is any actual use of force—or any threat of force—in an attempt to control, intimidate or punish. Examples include punching, shoving, slapping, choking, kicking, biting, burning, shaking or using any weapon.

Sexual assault is when someone forces any form of sexual activity on someone else without that person’s consent. 

Sexual assault and consent to sexual activity

The legal age of consent to sexual activity in Canada is 16. To consent, the people must have equal power, equal respect and equal knowledge. Consent is based on choice and is freely given. It is not manipulated, or given due to fear.

Consent cannot be given in certain situations regardless of the age of the person:

  • If the older person is in a position of trust or authority (teacher, doctor, babysitter)
  • If one person threatens or uses force
  • If a third party says “yes” for someone
  • If a person is intoxicated—this means they are incapable of consent
  • If the person expressed in words or conduct a lack of agreement—No means NO!
  • If the person changed his or her mind at any point

Further info:

Read tips for having a healthy relationship!

Get help to get out of an abusive relationship

Take the free Healthy Youth Relationships online course for youth!
Online course