Within relationships and the dating scene, sexual assault and sexual abuse are still too common.

Sexual abuse and assault can have many negative effects on relationships and victims. The Airdrie and District Victims Assistance Society, (ADVAS), is a non-profit organization in Airdrie meant to provide support and assistance to those suffering through many cases of abuse.

Volunteer manager at ADVAS Colleen Maurice says that sexual assault has a wide description.

"It can be anything non-consensual. That would be considered abuse: Sexual assault, sexual abuse, non-consensual."

However, not all sexual abuse can be someone forcing someone physically. Often someone can me mentally coerced into sexual acts and this too is considered sexual assault.

"Someone might be getting upset if they say no or someone might be feeling obligated. In a relationship as husband and wife, as spouses, someone might feel obligated to have sex with their partner because they're in a relationship. (They might think) 'this is my wifely or husbandly duty to have sex with my partner because we're in a relationship'," describes Maurice. "Those types of things, guilting them into it like 'if you care for me, if you love me', coercion and intimidation like 'if you don't have sex with me, I know a ton of other people who would' or using threats like 'have sex with me or else' or by taking things like 'I might take the kids' or 'you're not going to have money for this week'. It's important that people know that even if they are in a relationship that they absolutely have the right to say no."

Sexual assault can have negative consequences not just on a person's mental health but can take a major toll on their body.

"There's lots of different (consequences) that could come out of it. A change in their attitude, their sleeping patterns, their eating habits, they might feel really bad and down about themselves, they could be feeling physically and emotionally unhealthy."

To help avoid dangerous situations with someone new, like on a first date, Maurice says to make sure to be somewhere out in the public's eye.

"(Go) to a public place so that people can see you that way, I hate to say it, if anything were to happen to that person, they can go back and trace their steps. Figure out where they were, what they were doing under video surveillance. Oftentimes if you see a missing person of that something has happened, they're going to back and retrace that person's steps and will put that information out into the public."


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