Glossary on Sexual Misconduct

A list terms and definitions related to sexual misconduct that are used by the Canadian Armed Forces. Understanding and using established terms can help promote common understanding and informed dialogue about sexual misconduct.

Abuse of Subordinates

Every person who strikes or otherwise ill-treats any person who by reason of rank or appointment is subordinate to them is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to imprisonment for less than two years or to less punishment.

Adverse Personal Relationships

If a personal relationship has a negative effect on the security, cohesion, discipline or morale of a unit, the personal relationship is considered adverse for the purpose of CAF policy.

Adverse personal relationships are not to be mistaken for “fraternization.” Fraternization is any relationship between a CAF member and a person from an enemy or belligerent force, or a CF member and a local inhabitant within a theatre of operations where CF members are deployed.


Habitual behaviour that seeks to harm or intimidate those who are perceived as vulnerable. It is a form of aggression where there is a power imbalance; the person doing the bullying has power over the person being victimized.

Bystander Effect

The term bystander effect refers to the phenomenon in which the greater the number of people present the less likely people are to help a person in distress.


Cisgender a term for people whose gender identity is in line with or “matches” the sex they were assigned at birth. Cis can also be used as a prefix to an assortment of words to refer to the alignment of gender identity and the assigned at birth sex status including; cisnormativity, cissexual, cisgender, cis male, and cis female.

Code of Service Discipline

Disciplinary action through the military justice system is carried out in accordance with the Code of Service Discipline (CSD), which is Part III of the National Defence Act (NDA). The CSD establishes a number of offences that are uniquely military in nature, for example conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, and disgraceful conduct. The CSD also incorporates all offences under the Criminal Code of Canada, all other federal statutes and, in certain circumstances, foreign laws.


Complainant refers to a person who reports an alleged sexual misconduct incident. A complainant may or may not also be the victim in the incident.


Consent refers to the voluntary, ongoing and affirmative agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question. Submission or passivity does not constitute consent as a matter of law.

Silence should not be interpreted as consent. Consent can be revoked at any time and can be in question if the victim is intoxicated. Consent cannot:

  1. be assumed;
  2. be given if unconscious;
  3. be obtained through threats or coercion; and
  4. be obtained if the perpetrator abuses a position of trust, power, or authority.

Consenting to one kind or instance of sexual activity does not mean that consent is given to any other sexual activity or instance. Consent can be withdrawn at any time, even after sexual activity has been initiated.

Consent is considered solely from the complainant’s point of view, taking into consideration the circumstances surrounding the accused’s physical contact with the complainant to include any words or gestures, whether by the accused or the complainant, and any other indication of the complainant’s state of mind at the time.

With respect to sexual assault, while not limiting the circumstances, section 273.1 of the Criminal Code sets out specific situations where there is no consent in law; no consent is obtained:

  1. where the agreement is expressed by the words or conduct of a person other than the complainant;
  2. where the complainant is unconscious;
  3. where the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity for any other reason than the one referred above;
  4. where the accused induces the complainant to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power or authority;
  5. where the complainant expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity, or
  6. where the complainant, having consented to engage in sexual activity, expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity.

For more information, watch the video on consent.

Consent Culture

A culture in which the prevailing narrative of sex is centered on mutual consent. It is a culture that does not force anyone into anything, respects bodily autonomy and is based on the belief that a person is always the best judge of their own wants and needs. Consent to any activity is ongoing, freely given, informed and enthusiastic.


Discrimination is behaviour that results from prejudiced attitudes by individuals or institutions, resulting in unequal outcomes for persons who are perceived as different. It is the unfair treatment due to a “Prohibited Ground” under the Human Rights Code, which includes race, sex, sexual orientation, gender orientation and gender expression, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, marital status, age, disability, citizenship, family status, or religion.

Discrimination includes, but is not restricted to, the denial of equal treatment, civil liberties and opportunities to individuals or groups with respect to education, accommodation, health care, employment and access to services, goods and facilities.

Discriminatory Behaviour

Behaviours related to sexual misconduct that are discriminatory in nature can be divided into two groups:

  1. Discrimination on the basis of Sex:
    1. Suggestions that people do not act like a man or woman is supposed to act;
    2. Someone being insulted, mistreated, ignored, or excluded because of their sex; and
    3. Comments that people are either not good at a particular job or should be prevented from having a particular job because of their sex.
  2. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity:
    1. Someone being insulted, mistreated, ignored, or excluded because of their sexual orientation or assumed sexual orientation; and
    2. Someone being insulted, mistreated, ignored, or excluded because they are (or are assumed to be) transgender or because their gender expression does not conform to traditional gender rules and norms.


Diversity is any collective mixture characterized by differences and similarities, or all the ways in which we differ. Diversity includes variations within a group such as race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age or gender amongst others, encompassing differences in natural abilities, personalities and physical characteristics. Managing and valuing diversity is about allowing individuals to make their maximum contribution regardless of any differences. This multiplicity of thoughts, opinions and viewpoints results in a creative and effective team. Finally, diversity is a question of leadership and not a simple matter of embracing a social cause. It means the active inclusion of all CAF members as equitable contributors to mission accomplishment.

Duty to Accommodate

The legal obligation that employers, organizations, service providers and public institutions have under human rights legislation to ensure fair and equal access to services in a way that respects the dignity of every person, if to do so does not create undue hardship. The principle of dignity strives to maximize integration and promote full participation in society, in consideration of the importance of privacy, confidentiality, comfort, autonomy, individuality and self-esteem.

Duty to Report

As part of the maintenance of discipline, there is a duty for all officers (with limited exceptions), and non-commissioned members (NCMs), to report to the proper authority any infringements of the pertinent statutes, regulations, rules, orders, and instructions governing the conduct of persons subject to the Code of Service Discipline.

It is expected that all CAF members will report to the proper authority any sexual misconduct committed by any person in the workplace or on a defence establishment.

Officers who can deal adequately with a sexual misconduct incident are not required to report.

Upon becoming aware of alleged sexual misconduct, an officer must determine whether they are required to report it to a proper authority or if they can adequately deal with the matter.

The determination of whether an officer can deal adequately with a matter involves an exercise of discretion. It requires that an officer act in good faith and not abuse their powers or exercise them dishonestly or arbitrarily, or to achieve an improper purpose. An officer must consider only relevant information and not discriminate on any inappropriate basis. An officer can seek advice from their unit legal advisor as to whether or not they can deal adequately with the matter.

If an officer has determined that they are not able to deal adequately with the matter, the matter must be reported.

For further details on reporting considerations, consult the DAOD 9005-1 Sexual Misconduct Response.


As it relates to social questions of fairness and justice, equality entails a principle of impartiality and sameness of treatment for all people—that is, “of ensuring equal treatment to all people, without consideration of individual and group diversities.”

By comparison, equity entails a principle "of ensuring fair, inclusive and respectful treatment of all people, with consideration of individual and group diversities.”

The practical differences between equality and equity emerge when social or historical factors cause sameness of treatment to be inconsistent with fairness of treatment—for instance, in cases where legacies of social inequality or systems oppression have placed groups in dominant or subordinate statuses relative to one another.

Under such circumstances, “access to services, supports and opportunities and attaining economic, political and social fairness cannot be achieved by treating individuals in exactly the same way. Equity honours and accommodates the specific needs of individuals/ groups.

Employment Equity

Employment Equity is a strategy designed to eliminate discrimination or barriers and open the competition for employment and advancement opportunities to those who might otherwise be excluded. The purpose of the Employment Equity Act is to achieve equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability and, in the fulfillment of that goal, to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities by giving effect to the principle that employment equity means more than treating persons in the same way but also requires special measures and the accommodation of differences.

Family Violence/Domestic Violence

An abuse of power within a relationship of family, trust or dependency, and includes many forms of abusive, e.g., emotional abuse, psychological abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, destruction of property, injury to pets, physical assault, sexual assault and homicide. Family violence (also called domestic violence) is a pattern of behaviour used by one person to gain power and control over another with whom they have or have had an intimate relationship.

Family violence includes many different forms of physical and emotional abuse, as well as neglect carried out by family members or intimate partners. It may include a single act of violence, or a number of acts that form a pattern of abuse. Family violence can have serious-and sometimes fatal-consequences for victims and for those who see or hear the violence.

Although the Criminal Code does not refer to specific "family violence offences", many Criminal Code offences could be used to charge someone with acts of family violence. For more information on the criminal laws that could be applied, please see family violence Laws.


GBA+ is an analytical tool used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA+ acknowledges that GBA goes beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences. We all have multiple identity factors that intersect to make us who we are; GBA+ also considers many other identity factors, like race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability.

Gender/Gender Norms

Gender is the socially constructed concepts of masculinity and femininity; based on the expectations and stereotypes about behaviours, actions, and roles linked to being a ‘man’ or ‘woman’ within a particular culture or society. The social norms related to gender can vary depending on the culture and can change over time.

The gender binary influences what society considers ‘normal’ or acceptable behaviour, dress, appearance and roles for women and men. Gender norms are a prevailing force in our everyday lives. Strength, action, and dominance are stereotypically seen as ‘masculine’ traits, while vulnerability, passivity, and receptiveness are stereotypically seen as ‘feminine’ traits. A woman expressing masculine traits may be chastised as ‘overly aggressive,’ while a man expressing ‘feminine’ traits may be labelled as ‘weak.’ Gender norms can contribute to power imbalances and inequality at home, at work, and in communities.

Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence is a term that recognizes that violence occurs within the context of women’s and girls’ subordinate status in society and serves to maintain this unequal balance of power.

Gender-based violence is sometimes used interchangeably with “violence against women” although the latter is a more limited concept. The United Nations (UN) defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”

The UN also notes that “While gender-based violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable - for instance, young girls and older women, women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex, migrants and refugees, indigenous women and ethnic minorities, or women and girls living with HIV and disabilities, and those living through humanitarian crises.” The existence and impact of gender-based violence are therefore often interconnected with other systems of inequality and/or vulnerability.

Gender Diversity

Gender Diversity refers to the extent to which a person’s gender identity, role, or expression differs from the cultural norms prescribed for people of a particular sex. This term is becoming more popular as a way to describe people without reference to a particular cultural norm, in a manner that is more affirming and potentially less stigmatizing than gender nonconformity.

Gender Expression

External appearance of one's gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.

Gender Identity

One's innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth. Gender identity is fundamentally separate from a person’s sexual orientation.

Genderqueer/Gender Non-Conforming/Gender Variant

Individuals who do not follow gender stereotypes based on the sex they were assigned at birth. They may identify and express themselves as “feminine men” or “masculine women” or as androgynous, outside of the categories “boy/man” and “girl/woman.” People who are gender non-conforming may or may not identify as trans.

Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour (HISB)

Please Note:

While HISB was primarily used at the beginning of Operation HONOUR, it has since been replaced with “Sexual Misconduct.” The term is here to remind glossary users that “Sexual Misconduct” is the preferred term now.


In a policy that applies to both CAF members and DND employees, harassment is defined as:

"Improper conduct by an individual, that is directed at and offensive to another individual in the workplace, including at any event or any location related to work, and that the individual knew or ought reasonably to have known would cause offence or harm. It comprises objectionable act(s), comment(s) or display(s) that demean, belittle, or cause personal humiliation or embarrassment, and any act of intimidation or threat. It also includes harassment within the meaning of the Canadian Human Rights Act (i.e. based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability, pardoned conviction and conviction for which a record suspension has been ordered). Harassment is normally a series of incidents but can be one severe incident which has a lasting impact on the individual. (Based on the Policy on Harassment Prevention and Resolution, Treasury Board)."

The following six criteria must be met for harassment to have occurred:

  1. improper conduct by an individual;
  2. individual knew or ought reasonably to have known that the conduct would cause offence or harm;
  3. if the harassment does not relate to a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, the conduct must have been directed at the complainant
  4. the conduct must have been offensive to the complainant;
  5. the conduct may consist of a series of incidents, or one severe incident which had a lasting impact on that complainant; and
  6. the conduct must have occurred in the workplace.


Hazing is any action taken or any situation created intentionally, that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.

Implicit Bias

Negative associations expressed automatically that people unknowingly hold; also known as unconscious or hidden bias. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves.

Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behaviour that diverges from the explicit attitudes that people may profess.


Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power. It is an approach that aims to reach out to and include all people, honouring the diversity and uniqueness, talents, beliefs, backgrounds, capabilities and ways of living of individuals and groups.


A term used to describe a person born with reproductive systems, chromosomes and/or hormones that are not easily characterized as male or female. This might include a woman with XY chromosomes or a man with ovaries instead of testes. Intersex characteristics occur in one out of every 1,500 births. Typically, intersex people are assigned one sex, male or female, at birth. Some intersex people identify with their assigned sex, while others do not, and some choose to identify as intersex. Intersex people may or may not identify as trans or transgender.

Leadership Team

The leadership team is comprised of the CO and his/her key personal staff. Royal Canadian Navy leadership teams normally consist of the CO, Coxswain and Executive Officer (XO). In Army units, leadership teams typically include the CO and RSM. In the Royal Canadian Air Force, the “leadership team” approach is integral to the Team Performance model applied to air crews and controllers. The relationship between the CO and their leadership team is based on Canadian military law and the military ethos, which calls for a strong, cohesive team based on a common understanding of the primacy of operations and the shared beliefs, expectations and core values of military service.


LGBTQ2+ is an acronym used to refer to people, as a group, who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Trans, Gender Independent, Queer, Two Spirit, and Questioning. The plus sign acknowledges the many sexual and gender minority people who don't see themselves in the umbrella acronym and prefer other identity terms such as pansexual, gender-free, or intersex. Further, there are similar terms such as 2SLGBTQ+, LGBTIQ2S+, LGBTTTIQQ, and LBGTQ+ which are also used by the community.

LGBTQ2+ may be used to refer to anyone who is non-heterosexual or non-cisgender, instead of exclusively to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Those who add intersex people to LGBT groups or combine the two acronyms, use the term LGBTIQ. Others use LGBT+ to encompass a wide spectrum of gender and sexuality.


Commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory racial slights.

Non-Consensual Sexual Videos

Non-consensual sexual videos involve pornographic materials produced and/or distributed in order to humiliate an individual. It constitutes a form of sexual violence and is most frequently perpetrated as a form of violence against women. Because young women’s social status has historically been closely tied to chastity and modesty, women are particularly vulnerable to humiliation when their private sexual life is made public.


Retaliation in the form of ostracism typically involves exclusion from social acceptance and can include acts like bullying, “unfriending” someone on social media sites, or deliberately not inviting someone to a group activity they normally would have been a part of. It threatens psychological needs (belonging, self-esteem, control, and meaningful existence); and it unleashes a variety of physiological, affective, cognitive, and behavioural responses.

Personal Relationships

An emotional, romantic, sexual or family relationship, including marriage or a common-law partnership or civil union, between two CAF members, or a CAF member and a DND employee or contractor, or member of an allied force.

If a personal relationship has a negative effect on the security, cohesion, discipline or morale of a unit, the personal relationship is considered adverse for the purpose of CAF policy.

Positive Space

Positive Spaces are locations and environments where members of the LGBTQ2+ community are able to access inclusive services with dignity and respect. The term originated in shelters for women struggling with gender or domestic violence. It applies particularly to persons from sexual and gender minorities. A safe place contributes not only to their safety and their physical integrity, but also to their psychological and social well-being.


Unearned social power accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to ALL members of a dominant group. Privilege is usually invisible to those who have it because they are taught not to see it, but nevertheless it puts them at an advantage over those who do not have it.

Prohibition on Reprisals

QR&O 19.15 Prohibition of Reprisals, prohibits any member of the CAF from taking reprisals against a member who has in good faith made an allegation or reported to a proper authority any infringement of the pertinent statutes, regulations, rules, orders, and instructions governing the conduct of any person subject to the CSD.


Rape is an act of power and control, in which the victim is humiliated, degraded, and left with feelings of shame, guilt, and anger. The Criminal Code of Canada does not specifically define ‘rape’ in terms of specific acts.


An umbrella term that can refer to anyone who transgresses society's view of gender or sexuality. It was formerly a derogatory slang term used to identify LGBT people. Some members of the LGBT community have embraced and reinvented this term as a positive and proud political identifier when speaking among and about themselves.


Reprisal can involve a range of unjustified personnel actions, such as interfering with promotion, unreasonably downgrading someone’s evaluation, or unfairly denying an award or an assignment.


Respondent refers to a person who is the subject of a sexual misconduct incident.

It is important to remember that the respondent has a right to due process and procedural fairness, and an accused member is presumed innocent until proven guilty with the right to a fair trial as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


Retaliation is an umbrella term encompassing illegal, impermissible, or hostile actions taken as a result of making or being suspected of making a report or a complaint, either formally or informally, of a criminal offense.

Safety Plan

A personalized and proactive tool used to reduce the risk of further harm. Safety planning refers to the process of supporting or empowering victims/survivors in developing strategies to increase their safety. Safety planning should always be done in collaboration with the victim/survivor, who is often the most knowledgeable about the dangers they face.


The biological classification of male or female (based on genetic or physiological features); as opposed to gender. A person’s sex is most often designated by a medical assessment at the moment of birth. This is also referred to as birth-assigned sex.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault refers to physical contact of a sexual nature such that the sexual integrity of a victim is violated in circumstances in which the victim has not consented. In simple terms, sexual assault is any touching of a sexual nature without consent. Sexual assault is an offence under section 271 of the Criminal Code.

Sexual Harassment

Is harassment (as defined in DAOD 5012-0 Harassment Prevention and Resolution) that is sexual in nature; sexual harassment may take many forms including overt sexualized behaviour as well as discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender expression and identity.

Sexual Misconduct

The term "sexual misconduct" is defined in DAOD 9005-1 Sexual Misconduct Response as conduct of a sexual nature that causes or could cause harm to others, and that the person knew or ought reasonably to have known could cause harm, including:

  1. actions or words that devalue others on the basis of their sex, sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression;
  2. jokes of a sexual nature, sexual remarks, advances of a sexual nature or verbal abuse of a sexual nature in the workplace;
  3. harassment of a sexual nature, including initiation rites of a sexual nature, contrary to DAOD 5012-0, Harassment Prevention and Resolution;
  4. viewing, accessing, distributing or displaying sexually explicit material in the workplace; and
  5. any criminal code offence of a sexual nature, including:
    1. Section 162 (voyeurism, i.e. Surreptitiously observing or recording a person in a place where the person exposes or could expose his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts or could be engaged in explicit sexual activity, or distributing such a recording);
    2. Section 162.1 (publication of an intimate image without consent, i.e. Publishing, distributing, transmitting, selling or making available an intimate image of another person without their consent, such as a visual recording in which the person depicted is nude, exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or is engaged in explicit sexual activity); and
    3. Section 271 (sexual assault, i.e. Engaging in any kind of sexual activity with another person without their consent).

Sexual Orientation


Due to the developing understanding of constructs, shifting usage of terms, and contextual use of this term, the following definition, taken from the American Psychological Association. (2015). APA dictionary of psychology (2nd ed.), is offered as guidance only.

Sexual orientation refers to the sex of those to whom one is sexually and romantically attracted. Categories of sexual orientation typically include attraction to members of one's own sex (gay men or lesbians), attraction to members of the other sex (heterosexuals), and attraction to members of both sexes (bisexuals). Some people identify as pansexual or queer in terms of their sexual orientation, which means they define their sexual orientation outside of the gender binary of "male" and "female" only.

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence includes any act that undermines an individual’s sexual or gender integrity. Forced prostitution, forced marriage (especially of minors), forced cohabitation, forced adoption of a gender role that does not conform to an individual’s identity, c sexual exploitation also come under this category. Some hate crimes and the more loosely defined “hate incidents” such as those directed at women and LGBTQ2+ individuals are also sexual violence. Sexual violence includes the imposition or elimination of actions related to sexual and reproductive health. Non-availability, withholding or forcing abortion and contraception, not allowing measures to prevent STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and HIV/AIDS, Female Circumcision/ FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), and practices designed to detect whether a woman’s virginity is intact, are all examples of this kind of violence.


Human sexuality is the quality of being sexual, or the way people experience and express themselves as sexual beings. This involves biological, erotic, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual feelings and behaviours. Because sexuality is a broad term, which has varied over time, it lacks a precise definition.


Stalking occurs when a person who has no legal reason to contact you, continues to bother you after you have said you want to be left alone. This repeated, unwanted contact can make you afraid for your personal safety. In Canada, when criminal charges are laid by the police for stalking, the crime is known as criminal harassment.


Appearing as, wishing to be considered as, or having undergone surgery to become a member of the opposite sex. It is a broad term referring to people with diverse gender identities and expressions that differ from their sex-assigned at birth. Transgendered people can include transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag kings/queens, masculine women, feminine men, and those who defy what society tells them is appropriate for their gender. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.


Two-spirit means different things to different people and different communities. One of the most commonly cited understandings of the term is a person who possesses both masculine and feminine spirits; however, two-spirit is used throughout English-speaking communities to distinguish the wide variety of Indigenous concepts of gender and sexual diversity as separate from the European gender binary, which was violently imposed on Indigenous communities through Christianization and the residential school system.

For some people two-spirit is a gender identity, while others use it to describe their sexual orientation, and still others as a spiritual identity (and some a combination of these elements). Although two-spirit is sometimes used as an umbrella term for LGBTQ Indigenous people, it is important to note that not every Indigenous person who identifies as LGBTQ will identify as two-spirit, and not everyone who identifies as two-spirit will identify as LGBTQ.

Vicarious Trauma

Vicarious trauma is the transformation, over time, in the psychological, physical, and spiritual well-being as a result of empathic engagement with traumatized victims and survivors.

Victim/Affected Person/Survivor

Victim refers to a person against whom sexual misconduct has been committed, or is alleged to have been committed, or who has suffered, or is alleged to have suffered, physical or emotional harm as a result of the commission or alleged commission of sexual misconduct. It is also a legal term.

It is recognized and acknowledged that individuals may define their own context and/or experience differently. Consider asking affected individuals about their preferred terminology.

People who prefer the term “survivor” often choose it because, for them, it conveys a positive message of strength and resilience, a triumph of hope over despair. Others feel the term “survivor” places undue expectations on them to be strong (or stronger than they feel). They prefer the word "victim," because it puts the focus back where they feel it belongs on the attacker who took away their choices and “victimized” them.

Some individuals do not identify with either term and prefer to use other descriptors to define their experience, for example: “affected person”, someone “who has experienced” a sexual assault or sexual harassment.

Given the sensitivity surrounding the use of the term ‘victim’, the term ‘affected person’ may be used in its place when not being used in a legal or police context.


Victim blaming is a devaluing act that occurs when the victim(s) of a crime or an accident is held responsible — in whole or in part — for the crimes that have been committed against them.

Victim-Centered Approach

A deliberate focus on the needs and concerns of a victim/survivor to ensure they receive compassionate and sensitive support in a nonjudgmental manner.


Any location where work-related functions and other activities take place and work relationships exist, such as:

  1. on travel status;
  2. at a conference where the attendance is sanctioned by the DND or the CAF;
  3. at DND or CAF sanctioned instruction or training activities, or information sessions; or
  4. at DND or CAF sanctioned events, including social events.


The workplace for CAF members can include military ships, aircraft, vehicles, office spaces, classrooms, garrisons, hangars, messes, dining halls, quarters, gyms, on-base clubs, online forums and locations for sanctioned events such as holiday gatherings and course parties. CAF members do not simply serve in the CAF, but work, socialize and often live within institutional and social structures established by the CAF.

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