Sexual assault

To prevent sexual assault while travelling

  • Consider investing in a self-defence course before going abroad.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don’t know or trust.
  • If you are being followed in an urban area, cross to the opposite side of the street and head for the nearest open business or occupied dwelling.
  • If you are in danger, use any means necessary to draw attention to the situation, such as shouting for help in the local language or activating a personal security alarm that emits a piercing sound.
  • Never open your door to strangers.
  • Never hitchhike or accept rides from strangers. Ask local hotels to recommend reputable taxi services and, whenever possible, double up with someone you know when travelling by cab.
  • If you attend a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, watch out for one another, and leave together.
  • Never leave your food or drinks unattended and never accept drinks from strangers. Watch your drinks as they are being prepared and served. They may be laced with hypnotic drugs that could put you at risk of robbery or sexual assault.

For further advice, see Physical assault.

If you are victim of sexual assault abroad

Take the following steps as soon as possible:

  • Contact the police and ensure that a police report is completed, even if you have simply been threatened with violence. The nearest Canadian government office abroad can help you.
  • If you are unable to go to the police immediately, record all the details you can recall about the attack and the attacker. If possible, have photographs taken of your injuries.
  • Preserve evidence of the attack. Don’t bathe or brush your teeth.
  • Seek medical assistance. Even with no physical injuries, it is important to determine the risks of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. If the assault was violent, do not assume that you are physically well. Go to a health care professional. See Sickness or injury for further advice.
  • Make arrangements to contact family and friends back home to reassure them about your well-being, especially if you have been unable to contact them due to the assault.
  • To help cope with the trauma, discuss the incident with family and friends or with a professional.
  • Report the assault to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or contact our Emergency Watch and Response Centre.

Canadian consular officials abroad can:

  • provide you with contact information for local police and medical services
  • help you find support to deal with the emotional, medical, and legal consequences of the assault
  • help you to contact relatives or friends
  • help you meet your basic safety needs 
  • tell you whether you are eligible to apply for emergency financial assistance through the Victims Fund, which is administered by the Policy Centre for Victim Issues.

If the offender is arrested

You may be required to give testimony and attend legal proceedings. As in Canada, legal proceedings may be prolonged.

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