A victim of sexual assault may need time to become fully aware of what happened to him. And it sometimes takes several years to find the courage to act. The delays vary according to the type of pursuit.
Make a criminal complaint
Sexual assault is a crime. As with other crimes, it is possible to complain to the police at any time. There is no maximum delay. Anyone who knows of a sexual assault can do it, not just the victim.
It is a prosecutor from the Criminal and Penal Prosecutions Branch, often referred to as the “Crown”, who decides whether charges can be laid as a result of the police investigation. A person can go through a criminal trial years after the events.
The person convicted of sexual assault may be sentenced to imprisonment.
Since this process can be stressful for victims, the law provides for several measures to facilitate their participation.
Civil suit for damages
The victim of a sexual assault may sue the offender for damages in order to obtain financial compensation for the harm he has suffered.
A civil suit is possible even if there has been no criminal complaint: these are two different processes. In civil cases, however, the victim must respect deadlines.
Since May 23, 2013, the victim of a sexual assault has 30 years to file a lawsuit. Prior to that date, the time limit to continue was 3 years. Therefore, if the assault took place before May 23, 2010, the lawsuit filed today may be denied. Better to consult a legal professional.
The time to prosecute does not necessarily begin at the time of the assault. A victim may only understand years later that his or her suffering is due to sexual assault. It is at the moment when she becomes aware that the delay begins. In addition, if the victim is a minor, the delay does not begin until age 18.
Resources to accompany the victims
The Victims of Crime Assistance Center (CAVAC) assists victims free of charge to overcome the psychological, psychological and social consequences of these acts in a confidential manner.
There is also a provincial listening, information and referral hotline available at all times: 1-888-933-9007 (toll-free).
Sexual Assault and Assault Centers (CALACS) are aimed at women who are victims of sexual assault and their loved ones. They offer several help services, including support during the judicial process. They can be reached at any time on the Web.
The Victims of Crime Compensation Program (VCIP) is designed to compensate victims for the physical and psychological injuries they have suffered as a result of a crime. Special rules apply to this program.