Police-reported sexual assaults in Canada before and after #MeToo, 2016 and 2017

by Cristine Rotenberg and Adam Cotter

Release date: November 8, 2018
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Highlights

  • Among criminal incidents founded by police, there were more police-reported sexual assaults in 2017 than in any year since 1998.
  • In 2017, the number of victims of police-reported sexual assault in Canada peaked in October, coinciding with the widespread #MeToo social media movement. The number of reports made in October and November of 2017 were higher than any other calendar month since comparable data became available in 2009.
  • As was the case before #MeToo, the majority of sexual assaults reported to police after #MeToo had taken place recently; just under half on the day of reporting (47%) and a further one-quarter (26%) within the month leading up to reporting to police. After #MeToo, an increase in historical sexual assaults over a decade old was noted, although they represented a minority of cases overall (6% in total over 2016 and 2017).
  • Quebec recorded the largest increase in the number of police-reported sexual assaults after #MeToo (+61%). More specifically, the CMAs of Québec (+78%), Sherbrooke (+76%), Saguenay (+69%), and Montréal (+67%) saw considerable increases, as did Brantford, Ontario (+76%). 
  • Compared with before #MeToo, fewer accused persons were identified in connection with the sexual assault after #MeToo; however, when an accused person was identified, there was no change in the proportion of persons charged.
  • The age and sex profiles of victims were similar before and after #MeToo. Young women and girls under 25 years old continued to have the highest rates of police-reported sexual assault, accounting for over half of victims before (55%) and after #MeToo (56%).
  • After #MeToo, there were more sexual assaults reported to police that involved an accused known to the victim, even when an accused was not identified in connection with the crime. 
  • Sexual assault reports involving an accused with whom the victim had a business relationship (i.e., sexual assaults perpetrated by co-workers, service providers, or patrons or clients of public services) increased after #MeToo, though these incidents represented a small proportion of sexual assaults overall (4%).
  • Though sexual assaults on school property represented a minority of cases (5%), reports of sexual assaults on school grounds, largely at non-postsecondary institutions with younger students rather than a university or college, increased after #MeToo.
  • Considerably more youth (12 to 17 year olds) were accused of sexual assault after #MeToo.
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In 2017, sexual violence and sexual misconduct were the centre of significant public discussion. A number of high-profile cases involving prominent figures and celebrities accused of sexual assault or misconduct received widespread media attention, and many victims’ accounts of sexual abuse and harassment were shared. In response, several social media campaigns were launched, with #MeToo being one of the most prominent, going viral in October of 2017. While most of these social media campaigns and cases originated from the United States, they arguably had an impact on the discussion of sexual violence internationally and in Canada.

Recently, Statistics Canada has published a wide range of reports focused on sexual violence, including: a profile of sexual assault victims and their assailants (Rotenberg 2017a), attrition of sexual assault cases in the justice system (Rotenberg 2017b), sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (Cotter 2016), self-reported sexual victimization, including incidents not reported to the police (Conroy and Cotter 2017), and most recently, sexual assaults classified as ‘unfounded’ by police (Greenland and Cotter 2018) and sexual assault data as part of the 2017 annual crime statistics report (Allen 2018).

The present Juristat article expands on previous analytical reports and focuses on the shifts in police-reported sexual assaults before and after #MeToo, as well as changes in victim characteristics among those who reported to police. It is important to recall that Canada’s most recent victimization survey (2014) showed that only a minority (1 in 20)Note of sexual assaults are reported to police (Conroy and Cotter 2017), and therefore police-reported sexual assault data do not reflect the true extent of sexual assault and sexual violence in Canada. In addition, because so few sexual assaults are reported to police in the first place, changes in reporting behaviour – such as new reports prompted by #MeToo – are likely to have notable impacts on police-reported data. Consequently, increases in police-reported sexual assaults during this time period may not necessarily reflect increases in the prevalence of sexual assault itself, but rather increases in reporting to police as well as changes in police practices (Text box 3). Nonetheless, these statistics are important in understanding the nature of sexual assaults that are reported to police in Canada, as well as informing criminal justice system planning and workload allocation given the potential increase in resources required at various levels (e.g., policing, courts, and victim services).

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Text box 1
Background: #MeToo

Preceded by much discussion of sexual harassment and violence in the media, the #MeToo movement went viral on or around October 15, 2017. In short, it served as an accessible way for people around the world to simultaneously indicate, by using the hashtag #MeToo on social media, that they had been a victim of sexual violence, harassment, or misconduct of some form at some point in their lives. As millions used the hashtag, it quickly gained traction on social media before entering news media and general public discourse. As a result, #MeToo arguably became one of the most powerful public demonstrations of the magnitude of victims affected by sexual violence or harassment.

A number of other social movements that aimed to raise awareness of sexual violence also surfaced around this period, such as #TimesUp in January of 2018. Accusations of sexual violence or misconduct against a number of high-profile celebrities and powerful individuals also came to light in 2017 and 2018, contributing further to public discussions and calls to support victims. One underlying message of these campaigns was that victims of sexual violence should be supported and encouraged to share their stories. 

The findings of this study show a marked increase in sexual assaults reported by police after #MeToo. Many police services in Canada have also cited #MeToo and related movements as factors in increases in reported sexual assaults in their jurisdictions (Laframboise 2017; Coubrough 2018; Winiewski 2017; Mehta 2018; Smith 2018).

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Number of victims of sexual assaults reported by police increased after #MeToo

According to data reported by police in Canada to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey, there were 23,834 victims of foundedNote sexual assaults (level 1, 2 and 3 combinedNote ) in 2017. This translated to a rate of 65.5 victims of sexual assault per 100,000 population, a 13% increase from the previous year (58.0 per 100,000 population). In both 2016 and 2017, 9 in 10 victims were women.

Before and after #MeToo: Defining analytical time periods

Pre- and post-#MeToo time periods were defined to analyze police-reported sexual assaults and their characteristics before and after the social media movement went viral (see Text box 1). The pre-#MeToo period as defined by this study spans January 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017, and the post-#MeToo period includes October 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017.Note Although #MeToo has been recognized for going viral on social media on or around October 15th, 2017, the whole month of October is included in the post-#MeToo analytical time period because it allows for a more complete temporal analysis on a month-to-month as well as a quarterly basis, and because there was evidence of an increase in incidents reported by police leading up to mid-October. It is important to note that the pre- and post-#MeToo time periods applied in this analysis are not to be taken as rigid characterizations of the social climate around or public attention towards sexual violence. Indeed, attention on sexual violence in Canada did not only begin in October of 2017, and other events, such as a study on unfounded sexual assaults published in The Globe and Mail (see Text box 3), had taken place prior to. Ultimately, the data evidenced a clear jump in sexual assaults reported by police in October of 2017, which reinforced the use of this period as an analytical marker for the purposes of this study.

Data provided by police services in Canada indicate a marked increase in the number of victimsNote of founded sexual assault incidents during the same month that the #MeToo movement first went viral (Chart 1). It should be noted that reporting a crime to police can be done by any party, including the victim, a parent or guardian, or another third party.

Chart 1

Data table for Chart 1 
Data table for chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 1. The information is grouped by Date reported to police (appearing as row headers), number of victims (appearing as column headers).
Date reported to police number of victims
2016
January 1,643
February 1,571
March 1,639
April 1,758
May 1,848
June 1,924
July 1,872
August 1,921
September 1,768
October 1,693
November 1,807
December 1,412
2017
January 1,584
February 1,556
March 1,883
April 1,881
May 2,147
June 2,160
July 2,008
August 1,933
September 1,916
October 2,469
November 2,358
December 1,939

There were nearly 2,500 victims of sexual assault reported by police in Canada in October 2017, higher than any other month in 2016 or 2017. This constituted 29% more victims than the month prior, and 46% more victims than in October of the previous year (Chart 2). Historically, there is typically an increase in reported sexual assaults in the summer months, making the sharp increase in October even more noteworthy.

Chart 2

Data table for Chart 2 
Data table for chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 2. The information is grouped by Month reported to police (appearing as row headers), percent change (appearing as column headers).
Month reported to police percent change
January -4
February -1
March 15
April 7
May 16
June 12
July 7
August 1
September 8
October 46
November 30
December 37
Overall change 2016 to 2017 14

During the post-#MeToo period of October 1 to December 31, 2017, there were 6,766 victims of sexual assault incidents reported to and deemed founded by police (see Text box 3). Because the pre-#MeToo period in this study spans 21 months (January 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017), average quarterly numbers are provided throughout this article in order to better compare the pre-#MeToo period with the three months of post-#MeToo data. Before #MeToo, there was an average of 5,418 victims of sexual assault per quarter, which increased by 25% after #MeToo.Note These figures translate to an average of 74 sexual assault victims reported to police per day during the post-#MeToo period, up from 59 per day before #MeToo.

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Text box 2
A history of police-reported sexual assaults

The number of sexual assault incidents reported to police in 2017 was higher than it has been since 1998.

Since comparable national-level data by month became available in 2009, sexual assaults reported to police have followed a relatively consistent pattern, where more incidents are reported to police in the summer months relative to other times during the year. This pattern can also be observed with many other types of violent crime, such as physical assault.

However, the end of 2017 did not follow this typical pattern; instead, there were more sexual assaults reported to police in October or November than during any other calendar month since comparable data became available in 2009.

More information on trends in police-reported sexual assaults is available in Statistics Canada publications (Allen 2018; Cotter and Beaupré 2014; Rotenberg 2017a).

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Majority of increase in police-reported sexual assaults after #MeToo was driven by recently-committed crimes

One research question raised in relation to the observed increase in police-reported sexual assaults following #MeToo was whether these cases were historical sexual assaults – that is, whether the conversations prompted by the #MeToo movement drove more victims to come forward to police with experiences that may have occurred months, years, or decades prior. By nature of the offence and the emotional trauma often endured by victims, sexual assaults, relative to other types of violent crime, tend to be reported to police longer after they took place (Rotenberg 2017a).

Though sexual assault is more likely to be delayed in coming to the attention of police relative to other types of crime, according to 2016 and 2017 police-reported data, the majority of sexual assaults that were reported to police had occurred somewhat recently. Both before and after #MeToo, about three-quarters of sexual assaults were reported to police within the month they occurred (77% pre- and 73% post-#MeToo), including about half that were reported the same day they happenedNote (51% and 47%). Of incidents that were not reported the same day they occurred, the median time to reporting to police was just over a month (32 days) for post-#MeToo cases. This was longer than the 3-week median (21 days) it took for pre-#MeToo sexual assaults to come to the attention of police.Note

Proportionally, a marginal difference was noted when looking at sexual assaults that occurred more than one year before being reported to police. Before #MeToo, 12% of victims reported a sexual assault to police over a year after the incident, compared with a slightly higher proportion (16%) of victims after #MeToo. While proportions were fairly close, after #MeToo, the number of sexual assaults that took place a year prior to being reported was 56% higher than an average quarter before #MeToo (1,043 versus 671). More specifically, the increase in historical sexual assaults was driven by incidents that happened over a decade prior to being reported.

After #MeToo, there were 544 sexual assaults reported that had taken place more than a decade earlier, nearly twice as many as an average quarter before #MeToo (284). While this represented a 92% increase in reports per quarter, decade-old cases still represented a small proportion of sexual assault reports overall (5% pre-#MeToo and 8% post-#MeToo). This, combined with increases in reports of sexual assaults from a few weeks to a year after the incident, meant a 5 percentage point decline in the proportion of sexual assaults reported to police on the same or next day (from 59% before #MeToo to 54% after), though the average quarterly number of these incidents still increased by 14% (Chart 3).

Chart 3

Data table for Chart 3 
Data table for chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 3. The information is grouped by Length of time (appearing as row headers), Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017), Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) and Percent change post-#MeToo, calculated using average quarterly number of reported sexual assaults units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Length of time Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) Percent change post-#MeToo
average quarterly number of reported sexual assaults
Same or next day 3,186 3,647 +14
2 days to 1 month later 986 1,284 +30
Over 1 month to 1 year later 545 756 +39
Over 1 year to 10 years later 387 499 +29
Over 10 years later 284 544 +92

As such, despite increases in historical sexual assaults after #MeToo, which also resulted in longer median times between the incident occurring and being reported, it is important to recognize that the majority of the increase in reported sexual assaults post-#MeToo was driven by recently-committed crimes coming to the attention of police.

Quebec reported largest increase in rate of sexual assaults after #MeToo

Nationally, in the 21 months prior to #MeToo (January 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017), there was an average of 15.0 victims of sexual assault per 100,000 population per quarter, a rate that increased by 24% to 18.6 per 100,000 population after #MeToo (Table 1). Note that analysis of these periods uses average quarterly numbers and rates in order to compare the pre- and post-#MeToo periods. They are therefore not directly comparable with other analytical products which publish annual rates.Note

As is the case for most violent crimes, the rates of police-reported sexual assaults were highest in the three territories, both pre- and post-#MeToo (Table 1). In the three month period following #MeToo (October 1 to December 31, 2017), Nunavut reported the highest quarterly rate at 113.2 victims per 100,000 population, followed by the Northwest Territories (78.8) and Yukon (41.7). The lowest rates after #MeToo were reported in British Columbia (15.0), New Brunswick (13.4), and Prince Edward Island (12.6).

By far, the largest increase in quarterly rate of police-reported sexual assaults after #MeToo was in Quebec, up by 61% compared to the pre-#MeToo quarterly average (from 12.4 to 20.0 victims per 100,000 population). Newfoundland and Labrador (+36%) and Manitoba (+27%) were the only other provinces or territories to record an increase higher than the national average increase (+24%) after #MeToo (Map 1). Much smaller increases following #MeToo were noted in Saskatchewan (+0.6%) and Prince Edward Island (+3%). A decrease in rate was observed in Yukon (-18%) and the Northwest Territories (-10%), however, the small number of police-reported sexual assaults post-#MeToo in these territories (Table 1) should be taken into consideration when interpreting these changes. Collectively, the three territories saw a small decrease (-4%) in quarterly rate of reported sexual assaults after #MeToo. There are various economic and social factors which may help explain the different trends observed in the territories, one of which may be less widespread use of social media in Northern Canada, as internet access and use is much lower (Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation 2017).

Map 1

Description for Map 1 
Map 1
Percent change in rate of police-reported sexual assaults after #MeToo, by province or territory, Canada, 2016 and 2017
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percent change in rate of police-reported sexual assaults after #MeToo. The information is grouped by Provinces and territories (appearing as row headers), Percent change in rate (appearing as column headers).
Provinces and territories Percent change in rate
Newfoundland and Labrador +36
Prince Edward IslandMap 1 Note 1 +3
Nova Scotia +15
New Brunswick +9
Quebec +61
Ontario +19
Manitoba +27
Saskatchewan +1
Alberta +7
British Columbia +16
YukonMap 1 Note 1 -18
Northwest TerritoriesMap 1 Note 1 -10
NunavutMap 1 Note 1 +8
Canada +24

Police-reported sexual assaults increased in virtually all census metropolitan areas after #MeToo

Police-reported sexual assault rates varied across Canada’s census metropolitan areas (CMAs)Note before and after #MeToo. At two times the national quarterly rate (18.6 per 100,000 population), Peterborough reported the highest rate of police-reported sexual assaults after #MeToo (36.3), followed by Winnipeg (30.3), Brantford (29.9), and Kingston (29.7) (Table 2).

Figure 1 shows both the post-#MeToo quarterly rate as well as the change compared to an average quarter prior to #MeToo, with CMAs in the upper right representing those that saw both considerable increases in police-reported sexual assaults and comparatively higher rates of sexual assault after #MeToo. Of note, nearly all CMAs reported an increase in rate of reported sexual assaults following #MeToo (Table 2; Figure 1). Barrie (-33%), Thunder Bay (-17%), Windsor (-5%), and Kelowna (-2%) were the exceptions.

Figure 1

Description for Figure 1 
Data table for figure 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for figure 1. The information is grouped by Census Metropolitan area (CMA) (appearing as row headers), Quarterly rate per 100,000, post-#MeToo
and Percent change in rate, pre-#MeToo to post-#MeToo (appearing as column headers).
Census Metropolitan area (CMA) Quarterly rate per 100,000, post-#MeToo
Percent change in rate, pre-#MeToo to post-#MeToo
Victoria 19 8
Vancouver 14 26
Abbotsford–Mission 14 14
Kelowna 9 -2
Edmonton 21 11
Calgary 15 23
Saskatoon 26 14
Regina 18 10
Winnipeg 30 26
Thunder Bay 19 -17
Greater Sudbury 23 37
Barrie 10 -33
Windsor 13 -5
London 21 63
Guelph 26 39
Brantford 30 76
Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo 22 52
St. Catharines–Niagara 15 9
Hamilton 23 14
Toronto 13 11
Peterborough 36 58
Kingston 30 61
Ottawa 21 46
Gatineau 18 44
Montréal 20 67
Trois-Rivières 16 17
Sherbrooke 27 76
Québec 21 78
Saguenay 22 69
Moncton 13 10
Halifax 24 14
St. John's 21 28

Though Montréal’s quarterly rate of sexual assaults was similar to the national rate (20.0 versus 18.6 per 100,000 population), there were considerable increases in reports in that CMA post-#MeToo. In the last three months of 2017, 821 victims of sexual assault came to the attention of police in Montréal, more than double the average number per quarter pre-#MeToo (331 victims). This translated to a 67% increase in quarterly rate of police-reported sexual assaults after #MeToo. Other CMAs in Quebec saw even larger increases: Québec City (+78%), Sherbrooke (+76%), and Saguenay (+69%). Outside of Quebec, the Ontario CMA of Brantford also saw a considerable increase (+76%).

It is important to consider that increases in rates of sexual assault following #MeToo may not be an indication of an increase in the prevalence of sexual assault, but rather a reflection of changes in reporting behaviours and police classifications, coding practices, or new initiatives. For example, in October 2017, the Montréal Police Service implemented a dedicated hotline for reporting sexual assaults in the wake of #MeToo and high-profile accusations of sexual assault and harassment, both internationally and within Quebec. Other police services in Quebec also urged victims to come forward around this time (Laframboise 2017). These factors likely influenced the high volume of sexual assaults reported to police in late 2017, thereby contributing to the high percent changes in rates in the Quebec CMAs shown in Figure 1.

Sexual assault rates slightly higher in rural areas, but greater increase in urban areas after #MeToo

Overall, in 2016 and 2017, there were more victims of sexual assault in Canada’s urban areas than in rural areas, as urban areas contain a larger proportion of the Canadian population.Note Note When population figures were taken into account, the average quarterly rate of sexual assault was slightly higher in rural Canada, whether before (19.2 versus 14.0 per 100,000 population) or after #MeToo (21.5 versus 17.8). However, the increase in rate of reported sexual assaults in urban areas was more than double that of rural areas after #MeToo, with rural quarterly rates increasing by 12% and urban quarterly rates by 27%. 

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Text box 3
Unfounded sexual assaults

Media and police response

Before the #MeToo movement went viral on social media, a national discussion surrounding unfounded sexual assaults took place in Canada in early 2017. In February, The Globe and Mail released an article on sexual assaults that were being classified as ‘unfounded’ by police – that is, deemed not a crimeNote (Doolittle 2017). Several police services subsequently announced they would be reviewing unfounded sexual assault cases and changing their approach to the classification of all types of reported incidents moving forward. Along with more victims coming forward after #MeToo, changes at the police policy level may have also had an impact on the increased number of sexual assaults reported by police in 2017.

For more information on the revision efforts of unfounded data, see “Revising the classification of founded and unfounded criminal incidents in the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey” (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics 2018). For data related to 2017 unfounded criminal incidents, including sexual assault and other crime types, see Greenland and Cotter (2018).

Unfounded sexual assaults declined while unsolved cases increased after #MeToo

Overall, in 2016 and 2017, 15% of all violent crimes reported to police were classified as unfounded – in other words, it had been determined through police investigation that a crime did not take place, nor was it attempted. This was the case for just under one in five (17%) sexual assault incidents (19% in 2016 and 14% in 2017). The proportion of sexual assaults deemed unfounded by police began declining beginning in February of 2017, the same month that the unfounded article was released by The Globe and Mail. The proportion of unfounded sexual assaults continued to decline steadily over the remainder of 2017 (Text box 3 chart).

Text Box 3 Chart 1

Data table for Text Box 3 Chart 1 
Data table for text box 3 chart
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for text box 3 chart. The information is grouped by Month reported to police (appearing as row headers), Cleared, Not cleared and Unfounded, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Month reported to police ClearedData table Note 1 Not clearedData table Note 2 UnfoundedData table Note 3
percent
Pre-#MeToo
January 43 34 23
February 46 33 21
March 41 37 22
April 42 37 21
May 44 35 20
June 43 38 19
July 44 37 19
August 43 40 17
September 42 39 19
October 40 41 19
November 41 40 18
December 42 38 20
January 40 41 19
February 44 40 16
March 44 41 15
April 44 40 16
May 43 41 15
June 45 41 14
July 41 46 13
August 41 44 15
September 39 47 14
Post-#MeToo
October 40 48 12
November 37 51 12
December 36 52 13

A decline was also noted in the proportion of sexual assaults that were cleared (i.e., solved),Note towards the end of 2017, particularly after #MeToo – from 43% pre- to 37% post-#MeToo. Declines in cleared and unfounded sexual assaults coincided with a rise in incidents that were not cleared – that is, cases that have not been solved or where no accused was formally identified (whether by police or by the victim) in connection with the incident – from 40% to 50% after #MeToo.

In all, the quarterly numbers before and after #MeToo show that changes in clearance status proportions were largely the result of fewer cases being classified as unfounded (-19%) and more incidents being unsolved (+49%). As a result of these changes, the proportion of cases solved by police declined (from 43% to 37%) despite seeing a 3% increase in the average quarterly number of solved cases post-#MeToo (from 2,659 to 2,738).

Changes in police practices explain some of these shifts, given that when more sexual assaults are founded, a lower proportion may be solved as a result (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics 2018). In other words, the change in criteria for what constitutes a founded sexual assault may mean an increase in cases with less evidence required to lay a criminal charge. Cases that would have been previously classified as unfounded are now being founded, but consequently, proportionally more are going unsolved.

The classification of more sexual assaults as founded at the police level may have also contributed to the overall increase in police-reported sexual assaults in 2017. That said, the magnitude of the increase in late 2017 is too large to be explained by the shift in police crime classification practices that began in early 2017.

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Charge rate for sexual assaults declined after #MeToo as fewer accused were identified by police

Among sexual assaults that were founded by police in 2016 or 2017 (representing 83% of incidents – see Text box 3),Note the proportion of incidents resulting in charges declined after #MeToo from 36% to 29%. It is important to note that in order to lay a criminal charge, at least one accused must have been identified in connection with the crime and there must be sufficient evidence against the accused to substantiate it.Note Even when an accused is charged with sexual assault, other research has found that the case often does not go to court or result in criminal conviction, especially when the crime was reported long after it took place or where certain information about the crime was missing (Rotenberg 2017b).

With fewer sexual assaults resulting in charges, there were more cases going uncleared. Of founded sexual assaults, under half (47%) had been classified as not cleared before #MeToo, increasing to more than half (56%) after #MeToo. When an incident is founded but not cleared, it can mean that while there was evidence that a crime occurred, there was no accused person identified in connection with the crime. Overall, the proportion of sexual assault victims with an identified accused in the case was lower after #MeToo (44% versus 53%).Note

While the proportion of incidents resulting in charges declined and a smaller proportion of incidents had an identified accused person, when only sexual assaults with identified accused persons are considered, the charge rate was in fact the same before and after #MeToo (both 66%). The decline in charge rate at the policing level coincides with the increase in founded but unsolved sexual assaults, which is related to a shift in police reporting practices after national attention on unfounded sexual assaults (Text box 3). A lower charge rate after #MeToo may also be explained in-part by police having a shorter time frame to update the clearance status in longer investigations before the data was sent to Statistics Canada. The increase in historical cases previously noted may have also been a factor, as these cases are less likely to be cleared by charge.

Severity of reported sexual assaults remained the same after #MeToo

While the degree of seriousness of a sexual assault is not something police-reported data alone can speak to, physical injury to the victim, the presence of a weapon, and the level of sexual assault (1, 2, or 3) reported by police can be useful in providing some insight on the severity of the incident. One in four sexual assaults resulted in physical injury to the victim, both before #MeToo (24%) and after #MeToo (23%). The vast majority of these (98%) constituted minor physical injuries that typically did not require medical attention. A weapon was present in a minority (4%) of police-reported sexual assaults in both time periods. Both before and after #MeToo, the vast majority (98%) of sexual assaults were classified by police as level 1 offences, which typically involves violations of a sexual nature without a weapon or evidence of bodily harm (Table 3).Note The remaining 2% of sexual assaults were level 2 or 3 offences, which consist of sexual assaults with a weapon, causing or threatening to cause bodily harm, or endangering the life of the victim.

Nine in ten victims of police-reported sexual assault were female

Regardless of time period, and as has been the case historically, the vast majority of victims of police-reported sexual assault were women or girls (89%) (Table 3). In the last three months of 2017, police reported that 6,043 women and girls were victims of sexual assault, 25% more than the average quarter pre-#MeToo (4,840). Though men represented far fewer victims, there was likewise a 25% increase in the number of male victims post-#MeToo (723, compared with 578 in an average quarter pre-#MeToo).

Rate of police-reported sexual assaults highest for young women and girls between 12 and 24 years old

Overall, victims of sexual assault were disproportionately young women and girls. Over half (55%) of sexual assault victims in 2016 and 2017 were females under 25 years of age, a proportion which was similar before and after #MeToo.

Young girls aged 15 to 17 had the highest quarterly rates of sexual assault both before and after #MeToo (Chart 4). Girls aged 12 to 14 were victims of sexual assault at an average quarterly rate of 86.2 per 100,000 population before #MeToo, increasing by 48% to 127.9 after #MeToo. Quarterly rates for girls aged 15 to 17 similarly increased from 145.3 to 191.5 (+32%), as did rates for young women between 18 and 24 years old, from 76.4 to 92.6 (+21%). Despite continuing to have relatively low rates, rates for older male victims between 35 and 54 years old nearly doubled after #MeToo (from 1.3 to 2.4 per 100,000 population) (see Table 4).

Chart 4

Data table for Chart 4 
Data table for chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 4. The information is grouped by Victim sex and age group (years) (appearing as row headers), Female and Male, calculated using quarterly rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Victim sex and age group (years) Female Male
quarterly rate per 100,000 population
0 to 11
Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) 21 8
Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) 18 8
Percent change post-#MeToo 13 -1
12 to 14
Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) 128 16
Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) 86 12
Percent change post-#MeToo 48 27
15 to 17
Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) 191 17
Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) 145 11
Percent change post-#MeToo 32 46
18 to 24
Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) 93 7
Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) 76 5
Percent change post-#MeToo 21 34
25 to 34
Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) 42 3
Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) 35 2
Percent change post-#MeToo 19 15
35 to 44
Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) 23 3
Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) 20 2
Percent change post-#MeToo 14 84
45 to 54
Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) 14 2
Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) 11 1
Percent change post-#MeToo 27 80
55 to 89
Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) 5 0.4
Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) 3 0.4
Percent change post-#MeToo 31 -4
Total
Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) 33 4
Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) 27 3
Percent change post-#MeToo 24 24

Bigger increase in sexual assaults after #MeToo committed by someone known to the victim than by a stranger

Police-reported sexual assaults involving all types of perpetrators increased after #MeToo (Table 3; Chart 5). Four in five victims knew their assailant, both before (79%) and after #MeToo (82%). Even in cases where police had not officially identified an accused in connection with the crime, the majority of victims knew the person accused of sexually assaulting them (72% pre- and 79% post-#MeToo). Both before and after MeToo, 16% of police-reported sexual assaults involved a current or former intimate partner and another 16% involved a family member other than a spouse.

Chart 5

Data table for Chart 5 
Data table for chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 5. The information is grouped by Accused-victim relationship (appearing as row headers), Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017), Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) and Percent change post-#MeToo, calculated using quarterly number reported to police units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Accused-victim relationship Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) Percent change post-#MeToo
quarterly number reported to police
Casual acquaintanceData table Note 1 1,568 2,005 +28
Stranger 1,116 1,188 +6
Intimate partnerData table Note 2 893 1,102 +23
Non-spousal family memberData table Note 3 861 1,072 +24
Friend or roommate 554 749 +35
Business relationshipData table Note 4 231 381 +65
OtherData table Note 5 196 269 +37

Sexual assaults committed by a stranger saw the smallest increase (+6%) between the number of incidents reported in the three months following #MeToo (1,188) and the average quarterly number reported to police before #MeToo (1,116). Larger increases in reporting after #MeToo were seen among sexual assaults involving a friend or roommate of the victim (+35%), followed by casual acquaintances (+28%). Though business relationships represented a small proportion of sexual assaults (6% post-#MeToo), they saw the largest increase in reports after #MeToo (+65%) (Table 3). Business relationships can include sexual assaults perpetrated by co-workers, service providers, or patrons or clients of public services.

More historical sexual assaults against girls reported after #MeToo, males victimized by a family member reporting sooner

Sexual assaults tend to take longer to be reported to police when the victim knew their assailant (especially as a family member), and when the victim was a child (Rotenberg 2017a). As noted above, after #MeToo, there was an increase in sexual assaults reported to police that had occurred more than one year prior. This increase was largely driven by sexual assaults against young girls.

After #MeToo, 14% of all reported sexual assaults against a female had occurred over a year before they were brought to the attention of police. But for those who were under 12 when the incident occurred, nearly half (48%) were reported at least a year after the incident. This represents an increase in reporting of historical sexual assaults (from 38% pre-#MeToo), larger than that for female victims overall (from 11% to 14%). Though less frequent in volume, sexual assaults against young boys were also more likely to have long delays in reporting, but there was no increase in reporting of historical cases after #MeToo.

After #MeToo, sexual assaults committed by a family member against boys and men were reported to police sooner after they happened. Specifically, the proportion of males victimized by a family member who reported on the same or day following the sexual assault increased from 44% to 49% after #MeToo, in contrast to a decrease in same-or-next-day reporting among males victimized by someone outside the family (from 53% to 50%). This shift was even more pronounced among boys under 12.

Increase in sexual assault reports at schools, bars, and restaurants after #MeToo

Both pre- and post-#MeToo, around three in five (62% and 61% respectively) sexual assaults reported to police took place on private property.Note Incidents which occurred at a school, college, or university represented a small proportion of all incidents reported to police in 2016 or 2017 (5%). Nonetheless, incidents in these locations saw considerable increases after #MeToo, with sexual assaults on school, college, or university property nearly doubling (+87%) compared with the average number reported per quarter before #MeToo (439 versus 235 incidents). Because school attendance is seasonal the post-#MeToo period of October to December 2017 was also compared to the last three months of 2016 to control for seasonality in the data. A 59% increase in number of reported sexual assaults was observed, still making it one of the top types of sexual assault that saw a marked increase in reports after #MeToo.

Coinciding with the largest increases being observed among 12- to 17-year-old victims, the bulk of sexual assault incidents on school property (93% pre-#MeToo and 95% after) took place on non-postsecondary school grounds, most often during supervised activity, rather than at a college or university.Note Sexual assaults at a bar or restaurant were 46% higher after #MeToo than in an average quarter before #MeToo, though they still represented a small proportion of all reported sexual assaults (3% post-#MeToo) (Table 3).

Recently, attention to sexual violence on college and university campuses has increased, with many institutional and student-led task forces raising concerns and responding to high-profile incidents (Our Turn 2017; University of Ottawa n.d.). In Ontario, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act mandates that all colleges and universities have a sexual violence policy that addresses sexual violence involving students and outlines the process for responding to incidents and complaints (Bill 132 2016). Many schools below the post-secondary level have also introduced prevention programs, and as was the case with #MeToo, increased levels of awareness surrounding sexual assault and sexual violence may have had an impact on reporting practices.

Increase in youth accused of sexual assault after #MeToo

In about half of sexual assault incidents, police had identified an accused person in connection with the crime (53% for pre- and 44% for post-#MeToo). Police identified 2,788 persons who were accused of sexual assault during the three-month period after #MeToo, which was slightly higher than the average quarterly number of accused persons before #MeToo (2,744). The largest increases in number of accused persons after #MeToo were noted among younger offenders, specifically 12-to-14 year olds (+23%) and 15-to-17 year olds (+26%) (Chart 6).

Chart 6

Data table for Chart 6 
Data table for chart 6
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 6. The information is grouped by Age group of accused (years) (appearing as row headers), Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017), Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) and Percent change post-#MeToo, calculated using quarterly number of accused units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age group of accused (years) Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) Percent change post-#MeToo
quarterly number of accused
0 to 11 61 54 -11
12 to 14 196 241 +23
15 to 17 274 346 +26
18 to 20 233 246 +6
21 to 24 262 275 +5
25 to 29 296 283 -4
30 to 34 286 246 -14
35 to 44 447 413 -8
45 to 54 340 340 0
55 to 64 189 189 0
65 to 89 162 155 -4

Sexual assaults perpetrated by a youth aged 12 to 17 represented 17% of cases before #MeToo, increasing to 21% after #MeToo. This was largely attributed to the previously noted increases in sexual assaults of 12-to 17-year old girls, where the accused was often a youth or young adult male.

With the increases in both youth victims and youth accused, the age gap between the victim and the accused narrowed among sexual assaults reported by police after #MeToo. The proportion of victims sexually assaulted by someone in their peer age group (within five years) increased from 46% to 52%, while victimization at the hands of someone six or more years older declined. This shift was true for both female and male victims.

Regardless of time period, virtually all persons accused of sexual assault in 2016 or 2017 were male (97% before #MeToo, and 96% after).

Start of text box

Text box 4
Impact of #MeToo on crimes other than sexual assault

The present study is focused on level 1, 2 and 3 sexual assaults. However, there are several other Criminal Code offences that may have been impacted by #MeToo, such as other sexual offences specific to the sexual exploitation or victimization of children and youth under 18 years old,Note as well as harassment or threat-related offences.

Over 2016 and 2017, there were 13,453 child or youth victims of a police-reported sexual offence other than sexual assault, with sexual interference the most frequent offence. This represented just under half (44%) of all crimes of a sexual natureNote committed against a child or youth under 18 years old over the two-year period, with the other 56% being sexual assault (level 1, 2 or 3) offences.Note

Unlike with sexual assaults against victims under 18, there was no marked increase in other sexual offences against children and youth reported by police after #MeToo (Text box 4 chart 1). Rather, there were just as many other sexual offences against children and youth reported in the three months after #MeToo as there were in the three months leading up to it. By contrast, the number of reported sexual assaults against a victim under 18 years old had gone up 39% after #MeToo compared with the preceding three months.

Text Box 4 Chart 1

Data table for Text Box 4 Chart 1 
Data table for text box 4 chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for text box 4 chart 1. The information is grouped by Month reported to police (appearing as row headers), Sexual assault (level 1, 2, 3) and Other sexual offences against children and youth, calculated using percent change units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Month reported to police Sexual assault (level 1, 2, 3) Other sexual offences against children and youth
percent change
January -6 10
February -10 5
March 21 28
April 8 13
May 18 8
June 14 20
July 7 1
August 1 12
September 4 2
October 59 15
November 29 2
December 34 12
Overall percent change 2016 to 2017 (victims under 18): 15 11

Other criminal offences were also explored to see whether there was an increase of reports after #MeToo. Police-reported data showed no meaningful increase in reported crimes for selected offence types, including criminal harassment, indecent/harassing communications, and uttering threats (Text box 4 Chart 2).

Text Box 4 Chart 2

Data table for Text Box 4 Chart 2 
Data table for text box 4 chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for text box 4 chart 2. The information is grouped by Offence type (appearing as row headers), Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017), Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) and Percent change post-#MeToo, calculated using quarterly number reported to police units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Offence type Pre-#MeToo (Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017) Post-#MeToo (Oct. 2017 to Dec. 2017) Percent change post-#MeToo
quarterly number reported to police
Physical assault (level 1, 2, 3) 52,486 51,391 -2
Uttering threats 10,933 10,628 -3
Sexual assault (level 1, 2, 3) 5,418 6,766 +25
Criminal harassment 3,305 2,984 -10
Other sexual offences against children and youthData table Note 1 1,682 1,703 +1
Indecent/harassing communications 1,396 1,373 -2
Kidnapping and forcible confinement 917 908 -1

End of text box

Summary

Data from Canadian police services suggest that the #MeToo movement coincided with a substantial increase in the number of police-reported sexual assaults, with reports peaking in October of 2017, marking a 46% increase from October of the previous year.

#MeToo had a clear impact on the reporting of sexual assaults in some regions. Provincially, Quebec – where there was significant media attention, prominent figures accused of sexual misconduct, and where many police services introduced dedicated hotlines for reporting sexual assault—saw the largest increase in reported sexual assaults. Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba also saw notable increases. Although sexual assault rates were consistently higher in rural areas, urban areas saw an increase in reports after #MeToo that was more than double that of rural Canada.

Typically, sexual assaults reported to police before and after #MeToo had taken place somewhat recently rather than a long time in the past, though there was an increase in the number and proportion of cases reported to police that were over a decade old. No changes in the severity of sexual assaults reported to police were observed after #MeToo, as most sexual assaults continued to be level 1 offences with less than one in four victims suffering physical injuries.

As was the case before #MeToo, the majority of victims of police-reported sexual assault were female, with young women and girls in particular having the highest rates as well as the largest increases after #MeToo. An increase in younger accused persons, largely close in age to the victim, was also noted after #MeToo.

Police-reported sexual assaults that occurred at a school, college, or university, as well as those involving a friend, roommate, or someone with whom the victim had a business relationship increased after #MeToo.

It is important to recall that an increase in number of police-reported sexual assaults does not necessarily signify an increase in the actual prevalence of sexual assault in Canada, as the data used for this article are based on sexual assaults reported to and classified as founded by police. Based on the most recent available data, only one in twenty sexual assaults were reported to police in 2014 (Conroy and Cotter 2017). Further, 17% of sexual assaults reported to police in 2016 and 2017 were classified as unfounded. For these reasons, the number of victims of sexual assault reported in this study do not capture the true volume of sexual victimization in Canada. That said, they do point to increases in sexual assaults reported by police after #MeToo.

The increase in sexual assaults reported by police after #MeToo is likely best explained by a combination of factors:

  1. Victims may have had more sources of support and encouragement to report a sexual assault to police, given the shift in conversations surrounding supporting victims and the sharing nature of the #MeToo hashtag itself.
  2. Victims may have been more inclined to identify or recognize that they had been sexually assaulted after becoming more aware of what constitutes a sexual assault, which may have increased the likelihood of reporting an incident, whether it occurred recently or in the past.
  3. More police services were encouraging victims of sexual assault to come forward and assuring their support of victims, whether through their own social media channels or in larger-scale projects such as the implementation of sexual violence reporting hotlines. The publicizing of large-scale reviews of past unfounded sexual assault cases by a number of police services may have also served as a sign of support for victims.
  4. Many police services recently committed to the revision of what constitutes an ‘unfounded’ sexual assault. Statistics Canada and police services across Canada worked together to develop a new and uniform approach for classifying incidents as unfounded or founded (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics 2018). Although the adoption of the new coding structure is still underway in 2018, police services may have already begun implementing new policies or practices as early as 2017 wherein more sexual assaults may be reported as founded than were previously.

A central outstanding question that cannot be definitively answered by police-reported data is to what extent the rise in sexual assault numbers signifies an increased willingness of victims to report to police. Data collection for the next General Social Survey (GSS) on VictimizationNote is planned for 2019. The results of this national survey of Canadians will be able to determine whether there has been a shift in reporting behaviours in the post-#MeToo era. Moving forward, future research using data from police services will also be important in analyzing the longer-term impacts of #MeToo on police-reported sexual assaults beyond the last three months of 2017.

Detailed data tables

Table 1 Victims of police-reported sexual assault, by quarterly #MeToo period and province or territory, Canada, 2016 and 2017

Table 2 Victims of police-reported sexual assault, by quarterly #MeToo period and census metropolitan area, Canada, 2016 and 2017

Table 3 Victims of police-reported sexual assault, by selected characteristics, by quarterly #MeToo period, Canada, 2016 and 2017

Table 4 Victims of police-reported sexual assault, by quarterly #MeToo period and victim sex and age group, Canada, 2016 and 2017

Survey description

Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey

The Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey collects detailed information on criminal incidents that have been reported by Canadian police services, and permits analysis by the date the incident was reported to police. The data includes characteristics pertaining to founded criminal incidents (e.g., weapon use, location, delay in reporting), victims (e.g., age, sex, victim-accused relationship, physical injury) and accused persons (e.g., age, sex, charges laid). In 2016 and 2017, data from police services covered 99% of the population of Canada. Incidents are based on UCR microdata for pre- and post-#MeToo periods as defined by this study, and will not match data from CANSIM tables as these capture annual aggregate-based data.

In 2017, the collection and dissemination of unfounded criminal incidents through the UCR Survey was reinstated (see Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics 2018). Data on unfounded incidents include details on the type of violation, the date the incident was reported to police, and the clearance status (unfounded). Other incident, victim, or accused characteristics that are available through the UCR for founded incidents are not reported or available for unfounded incidents. 2017 data on unfounded incidents may still be subject to inconsistent reporting and therefore be incomparable across police services, as police services implement new standards of classification throughout 2018.

Appendix

Appendix Chart

Data table for Appendix Chart 
Data table for appendix chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for appendix chart 1. The information is grouped by Year and month (appearing as row headers), Number of victims (appearing as column headers).
Year and month Number of victims
2009
Jan. 1652
Feb. 1543
Mar. 1708
Apr. 1702
May 1867
June 1684
July 1746
Aug. 1820
Sept. 1811
Oct. 1676
Nov. 1638
Dec. 1420
2010
Jan. 1801
Feb. 1654
Mar. 1947
Apr. 1872
May 1902
June 1942
July 1917
Aug. 1847
Sept. 1737
Oct. 1799
Nov. 1779
Dec. 1503
2011
Jan. 1624
Feb. 1483
Mar. 1766
Apr. 1885
May 1927
June 1893
July 1851
Aug. 1915
Sept. 1783
Oct. 1773
Nov. 1745
Dec. 1582
2012
Jan. 1726
Feb. 1609
Mar. 1789
Apr. 1688
May 1924
June 1857
July 1928
Aug. 2020
Sept. 1855
Oct. 1906
Nov. 1601
Dec. 1331
2013
Jan. 1638
Feb. 1520
Mar. 1752
Apr. 1784
May 1911
June 1836
July 1835
Aug. 1836
Sept. 1729
Oct. 1749
Nov. 1621
Dec. 1345
2014
Jan. 1574
Feb. 1471
Mar. 1655
Apr. 1627
May 1758
June 1778
July 1831
Aug. 1739
Sept. 1741
Oct. 1764
Nov. 1659
Dec. 1435
2015
Jan. 1548
Feb. 1483
Mar. 1699
Apr. 1683
May 1799
June 1741
July 1819
Aug. 1784
Sept. 1806
Oct. 1702
Nov. 1690
Dec. 1515
2016
Jan. 1625
Feb. 1549
Mar. 1624
Apr. 1735
May 1829
June 1911
July 1848
Aug. 1895
Sept. 1745
Oct. 1679
Nov. 1790
Dec. 1391
2017
Jan. 1562
Feb. 1543
Mar. 1873
Apr. 1859
May 2129
June 2140
July 1991
Aug. 1920
Sept. 1898
Oct. 2441
Nov. 2342
Dec. 1924

References

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Bill 132. 2016. An Act to Amend Various Statutes With Respect to Sexual Violence, Sexual Harassment, Domestic Violence, and Related Matters. 1st Session, 41st Legislature. Chapter 2. Ontario.

Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. 2018. "Revising the collection of founded and unfounded criminal incidents in the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey." Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation. 2017. Broadband Connectivity in Rural Canada. Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. (accessed July 30, 2018).

Conroy, S. and A. Cotter. 2017. "Self-reported sexual assault in Canada, 2014.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Cotter, A. 2016. Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-603-X.

Cotter, A. and P. Beaupré. 2014. “Police-reported sexual offences against children and youth in Canada, 2012.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Coubrough, J. 2018. “More survivors coming forward to report sex assaults after #Metoo movement.” CBC News. March 9. (accessed April 21, 2018).

Doolittle, R. 2017. "Unfounded: Why police dismiss 1 in 5 sexual assault claims as baseless." The Globe and Mail. February 3, 2017. (accessed March 17, 2018).

Greenland J. and A. Cotter. 2018. “Unfounded criminal incidents in Canada, 2017.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Laframboise, K. 2017. “Calls flood Montreal police hotline for victims of sexual misconduct.” CBC News. October 20. (accessed April 21, 2018).

Mehta, S. 2018. “2017 sexual assault cases at their highest in five years.” London Free Press. July 25. (accessed August 17, 2018).

Our Turn. 2017. Our Turn: A National, Student-Led Action Plan to End Campus Sexual Violence (accessed September 20, 2018).

Rotenberg, C. 2017a. “Police-reported sexual assaults in Canada, 2009 to 2014: A statistical profile.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Rotenberg, C. 2017b. “From arrest to conviction: Court outcomes of police-reported sexual assaults in Canada, 2009 to 2014.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Smith, M. 2018. “Calgary police continue to examine sexual-assault cases as national unfounded rate drops.” StarMetro Calgary. July 23. (accessed August 17, 2018).

Statistics Canada. 2016. Uniform Crime Reporting Manual. Surveys and Statistical Programs. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. Available upon request.

University of Ottawa. n.d. Sexual violence: Support and Prevention. (accessed September 20, 2018).

Winiewski, W. 2017. “Sexual assault reports on the rise in Saskatoon with possible link to #MeToo.” Global News. December 8. (accessed April 21, 2018).

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