Dear Survivor,

We recognize that this is a very difficult time for you. It is important for you to know that the Guelph Police Service (GPS) is here to provide assistance and support.

The GPS believes that everyone impacted by sexual violence should be treated with respect and dignity, fairness and honesty and in a professional and bias-free manner.

Our duty is to bring an appropriate resolution to the case by conducting a professional and thorough investigation, while at the same time providing you with the necessary information and resources to assist you.

As someone impacted by sexual violence, you have taken an important step by browsing through this website and/or accessing our guide (see link at bottom of page). Enclosed in this resource guide is information on sexual assault investigations, possible outcomes and the criminal court process. We have also included information on financial compensation programs and how to access professional counselling and supports in Guelph.

If you do not want to make a report to the police, or you need time and support to make that decision, we have partnered with many other agencies that can help you during this difficult time. A list of these agencies and their contact information is located within this page as well as at the back of the guide.

Our goal is to identify, arrest and prosecute the person(s) responsible. At the same time, we support the choices that you as the survivor make with respect to the process that is best for you.

 

What will I be feeling during this time?

There is no “right” way to feel. Sexual assault can cause trauma, and can result in a variety of feelings, thoughts, sensations and emotions, both during and after the incident. Responses to highly stressful situations vary from person to person and not all people will experience the same reactions at the same level of intensity, nor for the same length of time. However, it is important to recognize that whatever the reaction is, it is a normal human response. At the back of this booklet, you will find a list of agencies and their contact information that may assist you during this difficult time.

I'm a partner, parent or friend: What can I do?

You will find a list of agencies and their contact information on this site  that may assist you and your loved one during this difficult time. These agencies are also listed in the guide (link at bottom of page).

What is Sexual Assault?

A sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age, and cultural background. It includes, but is not limited to, unwanted kissing, touching, penetration or attempted penetration.

Sexual assault can be committed by anyone; a stranger, a friend, a partner, a family member or a person in a position of authority. 

 What does it mean to consent to sexual activity?

Consent is the voluntary and active agreement, given equally by participants, to engage in a specific sexual activity. Consent implies that a person understands what she/he is agreeing to, and the possible positive and negative consequences.

Consent is NOT GIVEN when:

  • you are incapacitated by the use of alcohol or drugs;
  • you fear the consequences of not consenting;
  • you feel threatened or intimidated;
  • you are coerced (compelled to submit through intimidation, threats, misuse of authority, manipulation, tricking, or bribing with actions and words);
  • you are physically forced to comply;
  • you say “no”, either verbally or physically (e.g., crying, kicking, pushing away); and/or
  • you have a disability or mental health problem that prevents you from making an informed choice.

 

Consent can only be given by the person participating in the sexual activity; it cannot be given by another person on your behalf, for example, by a parent, brother, sister, partner, spouse, or friend.

 

Consent should not be confused with compliance, where you participated in any sexual act because of pressure, threats, fear of consequences or trickery

Is saying "no" the only way to show that I do not consent?
No. You can show by your words OR actions that you do not consent. “Fight, Flight or Freeze” are all responses to trauma. Actions, such as struggling, trying to leave, or the fact that you are unable to move may all show that you did not consent. 
What if I agree to the sexual activity at first, and then I change my mind?

Once you no longer agree to the sexual activity, there is no longer consent. Consenting to one kind of sexual activity does not mean that you consent to any other sexual activity.

 

Someone can be sexually assaulted even if he/she has engaged in consensual activity with an individual in the past – no one should assume that if consensual sexual activity occurred with an individual in the past, that it means there is automatic consent for future sexual contact – consent is needed every time.

What are my choices after a sexual assault? 
As a survivor of sexual assault, we support the choices that you make with respect to the process and what is best for you.

The following choices are available to a survivor of sexual assault:

  • you can report the sexual assault to police;
  • you can get medical and / or emotional support from community support agencies;
  • you can take civil action against (i.e., sue) the person who sexually assaulted you. 
Can I report a sexual assault years after it occurred? 
In Canada, there is no statute of limitation for sexual offences, which means you can report to police no matter how long ago it happened and someone can be charged with sexual assault.
What if I work in the sex trade?  
Anyone can be sexually assaulted at anytime, anywhere, by anyone. This means a sex trade worker can be sexually assaulted by a client. Any sexual contact that was not consensually agreed to is a sexual assault. 
Will my immigration status be affected if I report to police? 
No. Your immigration status will not be affected by reporting to the police. 
Will I be asked about my immigration status? 
There may be certain circumstances where an officer may be legally required to ask you about your immigration status.

These circumstances are:

  • a victim or witness who may require or seek admission into the Provincial Witness Protection Program;
  • a Crown Attorney is requesting the information for court purposes;
  • the information is necessary to prove the essential elements of the offence; and/or
  • investigations where the circumstances make it clear that it is essential to the safety and security of the public, or to officer safety, to determine the immigrations status of a victim or witness. 
What if I have a disability? How do I call police? 
The Guelph Police Service is accessible in many ways to people with disabilities. The Service’s website is compliant with the provincial Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. When a person calls the Guelph Police Service, language translation services are available and a TTY system for those with hearing loss is in place. 
If I do call the police, what happens next? 
If the sexual assault just happened, or you are in immediate danger, call 911.

If it did not just happen, then call the main Guelph Police phone number, 519-824-1212 and a uniformed officer will attend your location.

 

Once dispatched to a sexual assault, the uniformed officer will:

  • upon arriving at the location of the survivor, tend to their physical and emotional needs are met and call for an ambulance if required;
  • conduct a preliminary investigation with the assistance of the survivor to find out basic details about the incident. This will happen in a private environment, if possible;
  • if the survivor has special needs (e.g., interpretation, sign language, physical and other disabilities) contact the appropriate individual or agency for assistance;
  • depending on the nature of the sexual assault, the officer may ask the survivor to go to the hospital to treat injuries and to have a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK) done. This kit will collect forensic evidence; and/or
  • advise the survivor of the option of having Victim Services Guelph/Wellington contacted to assist in providing immediate crisis, trauma and support services. 
What is a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK)? 
The Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK) is a specially sealed box that contains envelopes, bottles and other containers used to collect evidence. Evidence can be collected at many different points in time, however the sooner the better. There is a greater chance of collecting physical evidence within 72 hours of the assault; however evidence may still be available many days later. 
Where will the SAEK be conducted? 

The SAEK is conducted at a hospital in a Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre (SA/DVCC).  Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre in Guelph is:

 

Guelph General Hospital

115 Delhi Street, Guelph

N1E 4J4

519-822-5350

 

A SA/DVCC provides emergency service, follow-up healthcare and counselling to both female and male survivors of recent sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Care is available 24 hours/day and includes: crisis intervention; physical examination; documentation of injuries (including photographs); testing and treatment fro sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy; forensic evidence collection for release to police (or stored at the hospital); safety planning; and referrals for ongoing support. Follow-up health care and counselling are also available at a SA/DVCC.

Do I have choices regarding the SAEK? 
The process for the SAEK is voluntary, which means that your consent is required. As a survivor of sexual assault, we support the choices that you make with respect to the process that is best for you.

The following choices are available to survivors of sexual assault regarding the SAEK.

  • It is your choice to have a SAEK done and ask for police involvement.
  • It is your choice to have a SAEK done, but request no police involvement. (The kit can be held for up to 6 months, at the Sexual Assault Care Centre, in case you change your mind and want to involve police at a later date).
  • It is your choice to refuse the SAEK and still ask for police involvement. 
What happens after I consent to release the SAEK to the police? 
The SAEK is retrieved by police from the hospital and immediately turned over to a Forensic Identification Officer. A complete list of the contents of the SAEK is conducted to ensure all exhibits collected are accounted for. When reviewing the details of the case, the Forensic Identification Officer will contact the Center of Forensic Sciences (CFS) in order to obtain permission for the SAEK to be submitted for analysis. Not all exhibits are submitted for analysis. Based on the details of the case, only the relevant exhibits from the SAEK and/or clothing will be submitted. 
What other types of evidence may be relevant to my case? 
Evidence is very important in any investigation; therefore, the collection of evidence in a timely manner should be considered. Evidence is not just limited to biological specimens, but also includes video, statements, cell phone and social media content, and other documentation. Although evidence is not absolutely necessary in conducting an investigation, it greatly assists the police with their investigation
Who will investigate my case? 
All sexual assault cases are investigated by police officers who are specifically trained in the area of sexual assault investigations. The training that sexual assault investigators receive is focused on creating a consistent and thorough investigation, while respecting the needs of victims and witnesses. The training is designed to enhance investigations of sexual assault by promoting best practices, in addition to victim sensitivity.

A trained sexual assault investigator will be assigned to your case.

 

The trained sexual assault investigator assigned to your case will:

  • fully investigate the incident;
  • ensure the survivor has access to medical care;
  • explain the process for the collection of all evidence including the SAEK, as necessary;
  • consult with Victim Services Guelph/Wellington;
  • assess and discuss with the survivor where and when an in-depth interview will take place;
  • ask if the survivor prefers to be interviewed by a man or a woman and make all reasonable efforts to respect the survivor’s choice;
  • keep the survivor informed of the progress of the investigation in a timely manner;
  • lay charges when appropriate;
  • advise the survivor that she/he has the right to complete a Victim Impact Statement;
  • advise the survivor that someone from the Victim Witness Assistance Program will be contacting him/her to assist with preparation filling out appropriate forms, court preparation and to keep the survivor informed of the court progress of the accused. 
Will everyone know what happened to me? 

Your privacy is very important to us. When a sexual assault is reported to the police, a review of all the information is done to determine if a news release is required. Generally a news release is issued if:

  • there is a risk to public safety;
  • information from the public may help solve the case;
  • it is believed that more victims might come forward.

 

General information about the sexual assault, including the date, time, and location of the assault, will be included in the news release. The news release will include the gender and age of the survivor. The news release will also include a description of the person alleged to be responsible, if that person is not yet known, or it will include the age if the person has been identified.

 

Your name will never be released to the media. No information will be released if there is any chance that the information will identify the victim.

What happens after the arrest? 
Once a person has been arrested and charged with a crime, he/she become “the accused”. Depending on the circumstances, the police can hold the accused for a bail hearing (this may be referred to as a show-cause hearing),  or release him/her with conditions that he/she must agree to in order to be released.

If the police have not released the accused, the accused must go before a Justice of the Peace (JP) or a Judge within 24 hours of the arrest for a bail hearing.

 

At a bail hearing, the JP or Judge will decide if the accused is granted bail or kept in jail. Bail means someone known to the accused provides money or any type of surety as a promise that the accused will show up for his/her future court dates. The accused may also be required to agree to obey certain rules known as conditions as decided by the JP or Judge. One of the conditions is usually a “No Contact/Communication Order”. This means that the accused cannot have any contact with you – not even through a third party (another person). The accused, or anyone at the request of the accused, cannot contact you by phone, letter, e-mail, text message, social media or in person. Generally, the accused will not be allowed near your home, school and/or work. If the accused disobeys any of the bail conditions, you contact the police and the accused can be arrested and charged for breaching the bail conditions.

 

The accused will make many court appearances throughout the judicial process. Some of these court dates will be referred to as “Set Dates.” You are not required to attend these court dates. These dates are routine preparation dates for the lawyers. You will only have to attend a court date if there is a preliminary hearing or a trial. 

What if the offender is not caught? 
Unsolved sexual assault cases are never closed; they remain active. If additional information is received, further investigation will be done, which may lead to an arrest. 
Do police always charge an accused? 
It is the role of the police to lay charges if there is enough evidence to support the investigation. Sometimes the police will decide not to lay a charge. This does not mean that they do not believe you or that the sexual assault did not happen. It may mean that there is not enough evidence to prove a criminal charge in court. If this does occur, the investigator can explain why this happened in your case. You may also not want to proceed with criminal charge/s even if there is enough evidence to support charges. As long as there is not a public safety concern, that is your choice. 
How long does the court process take? 
Depending on the case, it can take between several months to several years for the court case to be finished. This long wait may be difficult for you. It is important to have support during this time. There are community agencies that can help you through the process. 
What happens in court? 
Your case will be referred to a worker in the Victim/Witness Assistance Program (VWAP), located in the courthouses for the purpose of guiding you through the court process. The role of the worker will be to inform you of the status of the criminal court case and answer your questions about the criminal justice system, courtroom procedures and your role in court. The VWAP workers will:
  • help you understand what to expect at each court date;
  • provide you with copies of court papers, such as bail conditions and probation orders;
  • offer ongoing emotional support throughout the court process;
  • help you complete a Victim Impact Statement; and
  • coordinate with the Crown Attorney’s office to have you meet with the Crown Attorney, should you be required to testify

 

Upon setting a date for a preliminary hearing or trial, a Crown Attorney will be assigned as soon as possible. It is the responsibility of the Crown Attorney to meet with you and prepare you for the trial process. The preparation is usually done with the investigating officer and representatives from the VWAP.

 

There are several resources that will help you prepare for court. The investigator will offer these resources to you. The website www.courtprep.ca provides information on the Canadian Justice process and includes an animated courtroom. 

What is a preliminary hearing? 

A preliminary hearing is a “mini trial” in front of a Judge. It is not required in every case, but it is very common when sexual assault charges are laid. In a preliminary hearing, the Judge will decide if the Crown Attorney has enough evidence to proceed to trial. You will most likely have to testify in a preliminary hearing. Other witnesses may have to testify as well. The accused and his/her lawyer will also attend and possibly testify. 

What is a trial? 
A trial is when the Crown Attorney and the accused’s lawyer will ask you and other witnesses what happened before, during and after the sexual assault. At the end of the trial, the Judge will announce the outcome of the trial, which is

called the verdict. Deciding the verdict can take several weeks while the Judge or jury reviews the evidence.

 

At the beginning of the trial, the accused will plead “guilty” or “not guilty” to the sexual assault charge(s). A plea of “guilty” means the accused admits to the crime. In these cases, there will not be a trial and you will not have to testify. The Judge will listen to the facts of the case, find the accused guilty, and decide the punishment to be imposed. If the accused is found guilty, the Judge will choose from a range of sentences.

 

A plea of “not guilty” means the accused does not admit to the crime. The accused will then request a trial before a Judge or before a Judge and Jury. In these cases, you will have to attend court to testify at the trial.

 

It is important to remember that if the Judge or Jury decide that the accused is not guilty, this does not mean you or the other witnesses were not believed. It just means that the Crown Attorney could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the accused is found not guilty, the accused is free to go. This is called an acquittal. 

Will I have to testify in court? 
If the accused chooses to plead not guilty, you will most likely be required to testify at the preliminary hearing and at the trial. There are several resources that will help you prepare for court. The investigator will offer these resources to you. The website www.courtprep.ca provides information on the Canadian justice process and includes an animated courtroom. 
What if I am not comfortable communicating in English? 
You will be permitted to communicate in the language most comfortable to you. If you require an interpreter, including a sign language interpreter, to help you communicate with the police or to testify in court, one will be provided for you. 
What is a Victim Impact Statement? 

If the court finds the accused guilty, or if the accused pleads guilty, the Crown Attorney will ask you to complete a Victim Impact Statement. This document is your opportunity to say how the sexual assault has affected your life, emotionally and physically. This statement is taken into consideration by the Judge for sentencing. A VWAP worker can help you complete the Victim Impact Statement form.

 

Completing a Victim Impact Statement is your choice. You are not required to do so in order for the accused to be sentenced. It is also your choice if you want to read your statement to the court. It is very important for the Judge to understand the impact of the sexual assault on you and your life. If you do complete this statement, the Judge is required to consider what you have said when deciding what penalty be imposed. 

What kind of sentencing can a Judge order? 

Probation:

Probation is when offenders serve their time in the community. Offenders will be supervised by, and must visit a probation officer. An offender usually has rules to follow that are listed on the Probation Order. These rules, known as conditions, may include: not using alcohol; staying away from certain areas or people; attending counselling; seeking or maintaining employment; obeying a curfew. A Probation Order cannot last more than three years.

 

If the offender violates any one of the conditions of probation, he/she may be arrested and charged with a new offence “Breach of Probation”.

 

Suspended Sentence with Probation:

A Judge may choose to delay or “suspend” giving a sentence to the offender. This means that the Judge may release the offender on a Probation Order. The offender does not serve any jail time, but is under the supervision of a probation officer.

 

Intermittent Sentence:

When a Judge orders a sentence of 90 days or less, the offender may go to jail on weekends only. This allows the offender to go to work or school, or manage any health concerns. This sentence always comes with a Probation Order. When not in jail, the offender must comply with the Probation Order.

 

Incarceration:

Incarceration means that the offender is sent to jail. The judge can also order a “No Contact Order” as part of the sentence. This means the offender cannot contact you from jail. If the sentence is less than two years, the offender is sent to a “Provincial Jail”. An offender may also be given a Probation Order to adhere to when he/she gets out of jail.

 

If the sentence is two years or more, the offender will be sent to “Federal Prison”. There are minimum, medium and maximum-security prisons. The security level is determined by the risk the offender may pose when in prison. It does not mean the sexual assault was more or less serious.

 

Appeals:

The accused or the Crown Attorney can ask for a higher court to review an acquittal, conviction, or sentence given by a Judge. This must be done within 30 days of the sentencing.

 

If the higher court agrees to hear the appeal, the Judge may change the original court’s decision, sentence, or order a whole new trial. You do not have to testify at an appeal court. You will only be called to testify again if a new trial is ordered.

What is Parole? 

Most offenders can apply for early release from prison after serving one third of their sentence or after seven years, whichever comes first. A Parole Board will decide, based on the offender’s behaviour and completed programming or treatment, whether or not to approve the offender’s request for parole. Offenders who are denied parole can reapply every two years.

 

Some offenders in the federal prison system are not allowed to apply for parole after serving one third of their sentence. In these cases, the Judge will decide during sentencing the date if the offender is allowed to apply for parole.

 

If parole is approved for an offender, this does not mean the offender is free without supervision. The offender will be released from prison and will serve the remainder of their sentence in the community under specified conditions and under the supervision of a parole officer.

When will the offender be released from prison? 
Most offenders will not serve their full sentence in jail. In most cases, an offender will be released from jail on parole after serving a part of the sentence. You can request to be notified of the offender’s release and parole hearing.
  • If the offender is serving a sentence in a “Provincial Jail” - you may register with the Victim Notification System by calling: 416-314-2447 or toll free at 1-888-579-2888. Choose the option for the Victim Notification service.
  • If the offender is serving a sentence in a “Federal Prison” - you may register with the National Parole Board by calling toll free at: 1-800-518-8817.

 

To ensure you can be notified of parole hearings, or if the offender is transferred or released, call the Victim Services Unit of Correctional Service Canada toll free at: 1-866-806-2275. 

What is the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR)? 

The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR) is a set of principles that guides how victims of crime should be treated at different stages of the criminal justice process.

 

A victim, according to this Act, is defined as an individual who has suffered physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss as the result of a crime.

 

The CVBR provides for the following statutory rights for victims of crime:

  • The right to Information
  • The right to participation
  • The right to protection
  • The right to restitution

 

For more information on the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, you can search “Victims of Crime” at www.canada.ca 

Am I eligible for any financial compensation? 
 

As a survivor of sexual assault, there are a few options available with respect to financial compensation, listed below:

 

Victim Quick Response Program (VQRP)

Ministry of Attorney General c/o Victim Services Branch,

Victim Services Guelph/Wellington

519-824-1212 ext 7304

 

The VQRP provides short-term assistance to victims of sexual assault who report to police, a sexual assault centre, hospital and/or other community agency.

 

For more information or to review eligibility guidelines please contact Victim Services Guelph/Wellington at 519-824-1212 ext 7304. 

Where can I find help and counselling in Guelph? 
There are many resources available to you after the sexual assault, during the investigation and after the trial. The Guelph Police Service works with many agencies to make sure support is there for anyone who needs it. The people who work at these support agencies are not officers.

 

Victim Services Wellington

Victim Services Wellington is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to helping survivors of crime. They provide responsive, accessible, and accountable programs and services. They focus on restoring and enhancing the survivor’s quality of life and preventing re-victimization.

 

There is immediate on-site support and crisis intervention, operating 24/7. They will connect you to agencies and resources in your local community for counselling, advocacy, violence prevention, safety services and outreach.

 

15 Wyndham Street South

Guelph, Ontario N1H 4C6

519-824-1212 ext 7304

Website: www.vswguelph.on.ca

 

Guelph General Hospital

Guelph-Wellington Care & Treatment Centre for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

115 Delhi Street, Guelph

519-837-6440, ext 2728

24 hour triage, ext 2210

 

Victim Witness Assistance Program

The VWAP provides information, assistance and support with respect to the court process for all survivors and witnesses of crime. The VWAP is located within the Provincial courthouse at 36 Wyndham Street South, Guelph.

 

Civil Sexual Assault Lawyer

There are lawyers who focus on survivors of childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual assault. The purpose of obtaining a Civil Sexual Assault lawyer is for financial compensation. You can sue the offender and you can sue an institution if one was involved.

 

The Guelph Police Service is unable to recommend a specific lawyer. If you would like to contact a lawyer, you can refer to any of the resources listed in this booklet or contact the agencies listed below. If the accused is found not guilty in the criminal process, you can still proceed with a civil lawyer for financial compensation.

 

The Law Society of Upper Canada

The Lawyer Referral Service

416-947-3330

1-800-268-8326 (toll free)

www.lsuc.on.ca

 

Ontario Trial Lawyers Association

905-639-6852

1-800-567-3047 (toll free)

www.otla.com 

Contact Information for local assistance

Guelph Police Service

15 Wyndham Street South, Guelph

Non Emergency: 519-824-1212

 

Guelph General Hospital

Guelph-Wellington Care & Treatment Centre for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

115 Delhi Street, Guelph

519-837-6440, ext 2728

24 hour triage, ext 2210

 

Other local Hospitals

Groves Memorial (Fergus) 519-843-2010

Louise Marshall Hospital (Mount Forest) 519-323-2210

Palmerston and District Hospital 519-343-2030

 

Wellington Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

1-800-265-7293

 

Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisi-24 hr Crisis Line

519-836-5710

1-800-265-7233

 

Child and Youth Sexual Abuse Team (CYSAT)

Referral HERE 24/7: 1-844-437-3247

 

Sexual Assault Centre

Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis (G-WWIC)

519-836-1110

 

Family Counselling and Support Services

519-824-2431

1-800-307-7078

 

Family and Children Services, Guelph

519-824-2410

1800-265-8300

 

Immigration Services Guelph-Wellington

519-836-2222

 

Crime Stoppers Guelph Wellington

1-800-222-8477

info@csgw.tips

 

Victim Support Line

1-888-579-2888

 

Assaulted Women’s Help Line

1-866-863-0511

Download the entire guide by clicking here!

For the purpose of this website, the Guelph Police Service has used terms “survivor” and “victim” as umbrella terms to refer to anyone who has been sexually assaulted. However, we support a person’s right to choose how they wish to be identified. It is also important to note, this is not legal advice. Every effort is made to provide precise information, however your rights and a police officer’s responsibilities depend on the situation. If, at any time, you're unsure of your rights you can ask the police officer. They are required to tell you. The Guelph Police Service bears no responsibility for information on other websites. While we strive to maintain accurate and survivor-focused resources, it cannot be guaranteed. This project has been made possible by a grant from the Government of Ontario.