Sexual Violence can be defined as any sexual act or acts targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent.
— The Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Prevention, York University
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Despite successful student organising and the work of survivors and allies across the country, many students, faculty and staff continue to face individual and systemic discrimination at post-secondary institutions across Ontario. While discrimination is not confined to college and university campuses, overt and covert manifestations that occur on campus, whether in the classroom, lab, library, through institutional policies or at social events, undermines the academic missions of post-secondary institutions

Addressing gender-based oppression and sexual violence and continuing to work provincially to create campuses that are free from all forms of discrimination is essential to creating barrier-free education and safer campuses. Recognizing the unique role that identity plays in sexual violence makes this struggle all the more important.

Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario “Campus Toolkit for Building Consent Culture”

The following documents make up a toolkit for campus-based anti-sexual violence work that has been put together by several students’ union representatives. The toolkit includes a collection of best practices for lobbying efforts, outreach and overall awareness and education on campus.

Member locals of the Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario, of which the York Federation of Students is Local 68, identified a need for tools including a provincial database of support organizations and centres, sexual assault policy information, and tips for how to respond when college and university administrations are pushing back against preventing violence and promoting consent.

This toolkit is intended to be an opportunity for students’ unions across Ontario to share with colleagues their experiences on what works when it comes to the ongoing struggle of anti-violence work in the University and College context. The Federation recognizes that there are several organizations whose sole responsibility is violence prevention and survivor support, and it is not our intention to duplicate or replace that ongoing work throughout the province.

If there is any information in this toolkit or on our website that is incorrect or needs to be updated, please contact us at anytime using the contact page of our website.

 

How to Respond to A Disclosure

via The Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education @ York University

IF YOU RECEIVE A DISCLOSURE OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE:

If you receive a disclosure concerning sexual violence, it is important to inform the person making the disclosure of your commitment to keep confidential all information that is provided. It is also important to inform the person disclosing that there are limits to confidentiality (as outlined in the Confidentiality section of the Sexual Violence Policy)

1. Assess Immediate Safety
2. Inform Survivor of Limitations to Confidentiality
3. Listen Without Judgment
4. Refer the Individual to the Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education

If at any point, you are unsure on how to proceed, contact the Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education(301 York Lanes, 416-736-5211, thecentre@yorku.ca).

1. Assess Immediate Safety

If possible, ensure that the disclosure takes place somewhere the survivor feels comfortable and where their privacy is heeded. Ask the survivor if their immediate safety is at risk.

If the immediate safety of the survivor or any other member of the community is at risk, contact Security Services at 416-736-5333 or Ext. 33333 and/or 911.
If immediate safety is not at risk, ask the individual if they are somewhere they feel comfortable.

Please Note: Security Services will only contact Police Services with the consent of the survivor unless it is assessed that there is an imminent risk to the safety of an individual or the broader community.

2. Inform the Survivor of Limitations to Confidentiality

It is your responsibility to inform the person making the disclosure of any limits to confidentiality before they disclose identifying information. If you are unsure of any limitations to confidentiality, offer to refer the individual to the Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education (301 York Lanes, 416-736-5211, thecentre@yorku.ca)

3. Listen Without Judgment

A supportive and validating initial response to disclosures of sexual violence often makes a significant difference for survivors who may be apprehensive about sharing deeply personal or difficult information. Here are some ways to communicate support and concern:

  • Let the survivor maintain as much control over the pace of the disclosure as possible. Allow them to finish without interrupting and offer breaks when needed.

  • Listen carefully to what the survivor says and acknowledge the courage it took for them to come forward and share their experience.

  • Do not make dismissive or victim blaming comments. Questioning the survivor's behaviour or experience may result in the survivor feeling judged, disbelieved, blamed or a range of other negative emotions.

  • Refrain from asking the survivor specific details about the incident. Intrusive questioning about the incident may cause the survivor to feel that they are being interrogated and that you are not listening to what they are sharing with you.

  • Avoid initiating physical contact with the survivor without their consent. Some survivors may feel uncomfortable with physical contact following sexual violence.

  • Create time and space for the individual to determine what decisions best suit their particular circumstances. Do not pressure them to make a decision or impose any decision on them.

4. Refer the Individual to the Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education

An important part of supporting a person who has experienced sexual violence is to provide them with information about their options and the resources that are available to them.  Navigating university and community resources after experiencing sexual violence can be difficult. Your role is to assist the survivor in connecting with the appropriate office.

Recommend that the survivor contact the Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education (301 York Lanes, 416-736-5211, thecentre@yorku.ca). If the survivor would like to call the Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education or a community agency, offer to sit with them as they place the call.  If appropriate and feasible, offer to accompany the survivor to the Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education or community resources of their choice.

Respect the survivor's choice of whether to report the incident(s) to Security Services or to Police Services. Do not report the incident(s) yourself. Do not pressure the survivor to seek further assistance if they decline to do so.


Supporting Survivors of Sexual Violence: A Nova Scotia Resource

Also, check out this great set of online modules created by the Government of Nova Scotia, Department of Community Services. If you complete all of the modules in the training, you can receive a certificate of completion when registered.  You must register in order to receive the certificate.  Registration is free and your email is never used for any other purpose than to secure you login.  You can review all of the course material without registering, this course is open.