Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence

Below you will find a list of information conmcerning campus sexual violence as well as the McGill and community resources available. In the following text we will refer to individuals who experience sexual violence as survivors, though we understand that not everyone chooses to self-identify as such and that any and all language chosen by someone to define/label their experience of sexual violence, abuse, assault, harm, and trauma is a valid and an important individual choice.

We have also sought to include information on all the steps the SSMU is taking to be proactive in sexual violence prevention and support on McGill campus, in Quebec, and across Canada.

Page Contents


1) Getting Support
2) Disclosing Sexual Violence
3) Accommodation Options
4) Formal Complaint Options
5) What is Sexual Violence? Understanding and Recognizing Experiences of Harm
6) Responses to Sexual Violence and How You May Be Feeling
7) The Intersectionality of Sexual Violence
8) Rape Culture on McGill Campus
9) Contact
10) SSMU Sexual Violence Prevention, Support, and Advocacy Initiatives

Getting Support

If you or someone you care about experiences sexual violence, know that you are not alone. There is no expected or required response to trauma. Some survivors feel grief, anger, or nothing at all. For some survivors it can take several months or years to even identify their experiences as sexual violence. Regardless of your experience(s) or response(s), there are free and survivor-centric support options available to you, if you would like to access them.

At McGill and in the Montreal community there are peer-to-peer, student, and institutional support resources for you. Sexual violence is a specific form of harm that often requires support from specialized professionals who are trained in responding to trauma and gender-based violence. Accessing resources is completely at the discretion of the survivor and their needs. The support resources below are confidential, non-judgemental, trauma-informed, and can work with survivors of sexual violence as they process their experience and seek healing. They can be accessed at any point regardless of when the incident(s) occurred and are free of charge.

Student and peer-to-peer resources:
Community Resources:
Institutional Resources:
Resources at MacDonald Campus:
Crisis Support:

Please note that if you or someone you care about is in danger of harming themselves or others, seek emergency professional support by calling 911. If you prefer not to contact law enforcement officials, you can be connected with professional crisis support at:

More information can be found through this link.

Disclosing Sexual Violence

If you would like to make a disclosure regarding an incident within the SSMU Community, you may do so using the Gendered and Sexual Violence Disclosure Form. For clarity, the SSMU Community is defined as all McGill undergraduate students; all non-undergraduate members of SSMU Clubs, Services, and ISGs; SSMU employees (full-time, part-time, and casual) and volunteers; members of Legislative Council, the Judicial Board, and Board of Directors; and any visitor on SSMU premises. Submissions will be confidential and will be received by the SSMU GSVP Implementation Coordinator. There is an option to disclose anonymously, or as a third party.

Additionally, disclosures regarding McGill faculty and staff can be made through the form, and will be brought to the attention of the VP University Affairs.

Disclosures differ from formal complaints. If you would like an investigation or sanctions to occur, please provide contact information so that a follow up is possible. You will not be identified to the perpetrator in question.

To access the form, click here.

Accomodation Options

As mentioned earlier, after an instance of sexual violence, you may experience difficulties in other areas of your life, including your personal, professional, and academic abilities. Once again, this is normal and it is not your fault. As a survivor you have the ability, and right, to access academic, housing, and professional accommodations. It is important to note that you do not have to file a formal complaint with the police or McGill to access these accommodations.

Possible accommodations include:

It is important to note that you are not required to file a report in order to access accommodations!

If you would like support in accessing accommodations please contact:

If you have any difficulty accessing academic or housing accommodations, or feel that your needs are not being met, please contact the VP University Affairs at ua@ssmu.ca.

Formal Complaint Options

A survivor-centred approach requires all those who engage in sexual violence prevention and support programming prioritize the rights, needs, and wishes of the survivor. This means respecting your wishes. Pursuing a formal complaint after experiencing sexual violence is your right and, more importantly, completely your choice. After experiencing sexual violence, as a member of the McGill community, you have two formal complaint options: the criminal justice system and McGill’s policy framework.

 
Formal Complaint Options
 

What is Sexual Violence? Understanding and Recognizing Experiences of Harm

Often, individuals who experience harm have difficulty recognizing that their experiences are ones of sexual violence. In many cases, due to rape culture and the normalization of sexual violence, unless an experience constitutes a severe form of assault, individuals struggle to acknowledge their experiences and seek support. It is important to understand that sexual violence is a broad category that constitutes a range of harms. It is never your fault.

According to the OurTurn National Action Plan, under the broadest of categories, sexual violence is defined as:

“… Any sexual act or act targeting an individual’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against an individual without that individual’s consent.”

Examples of sexual violence include but are not limited to:

Responses to Sexual Violence and How You May Be feeling

Anyone can experience sexual violence, regardless of gender identity, and each survivors response to harm is individual. There is no expected way that a survivor should act. Response to sexual violence may be immediate or may take several months. It can impact specific areas of your life or be completely overwhelming. Just know that any response you have is normal and your experiences are valid. Healing is not often linear and each survivor’s journey is unique.

Some of the possible responses to sexual violence you may experience include:

The Intersectionality of Sexual Violence

At the SSMU, we believe that any and all discussions surrounding sexual violence must take an intersectional approach that recognizes the reality that individuals from certain marginalized groups experience sexual violence at higher rates and differently than those from more privileged communities.

Specifically, it is crucial to recognize that individuals who experience various forms of marginalization — that include, but are not limited to, women, trans and gender nonconforming people, queer people, people of colour and racialized people, Indigenous Peoples, people with lower socioeconomic status, and people living with disabilities — are disproportionately impacted by sexual violence.

Rape Culture on McGill Campus

Rape culture is defined by the Government of Ontario as “[a] culture in which dominant ideas, social practices, media images and societal institutions implicitly or explicitly condone sexual assault by normalizing or trivializing […] sexual violence and by blaming survivors for their own abuse”. Rape culture creates a climate in which we accept that our policies, practices, law enforcement, and courts do not respond well to the problem of sexual violence. Furthermore, it facilitates the high rates of sexual violence across university and college campuses.

Although the McGill Policy Against Sexual Violence does not mention or acknowledge rape culture on campus, or the need to address it, the SSMU is actively engaging with the issue. This began with the publishing of the OurTurn National Action Plan, a report that includes concrete steps to acknowledge and address rape culture on campus through prevention and support programs. Subsequently, the SSMU Legislative Council unanimously passed a motion to acknowledge and address rape culture at the SSMU and on McGill campus (link). Finally, through a number of different advocacy avenues, the SSMU is supporting student-led responses to campus sexual violence.

Contact

If you are in danger, please exit the page immediately and call 911.

The SSMU Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy has been created to provide an intersectional and survivor-centric approach to sexual harassment, gendered violence, and sexual violence within the SSMU community and applied to the SSMU context. The Anti-Violence Coordinators (AVCs) are responsible for encapsulating the four components: prevention, support, advocacy, and response. They can be contacted at: avc@ssmu.ca.

If you have experienced sexual violence, either on or off campus or prior to attending McGill, please know that it is not your fault and that you are believed and supported. The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) has historically, in many cases, failed to properly support survivors of sexual violence and hold their members and employees accountable for harm perpetrated. However, the current executive is seeking to take meaningful steps to shift the internal culture of the SSMU while simultaneously working with campus stakeholders to prevent sexual violence and support survivors on McGill campus.

SSMU Sexual Violence Prevention, Support, and Advocacy Initiatives

The Publication of OurTurn

In the fall of 2017, working with students from Carleton University, the SSMU published the OurTurn National Action Plan (English and Français). The OurTurn National Action Plan is a bilingual, adaptable, action plan to end campus sexual violence through evidence-based programs and effective action. The publication was signed by 20 student unions from 8 provinces representing 500,000 students and provides them with the tools they need to prevent sexual violence. This includes creating awareness and education campaigns, supporting survivors on their campuses, and lobbying for reforms at the campus, provincial and federal levels. The SSMU is proud to continue working with OurTurn and implement the action plan’s recommendations on campus. If you are interested in being a part of anti-sexual violence advocacy work at McGill please contact the SSMU VP External Affairs and VP University Affairs at external@ssmu.ca and ua@ssmu.ca.

Advocacy Surrounding the McGill Policy Against Sexual Violence

In April and December of 2017 respectively, the Adhoc Panel to Conduct a Campus Study of Sexual Violence (SSMU representative: then-VP University Affairs, Isabelle Oke) and the Committee for the Implementation of the Policy Against Sexual Violence (SSMU representative: then-VP External Affairs, Connor Spencer) were struck. For the full mandate, composition, and timeline of each committee, please follow the links above! These two committees reported back to the Provost, Dr. Christopher Manfredi, at the end of the Winter 2018 semester.

Future work was largely guided by the results and recommendations from these reports such that, in the Winter 2019 semester, McGill University’s Policy Against Sexual Violence was updated. Among other changes, this version incorporates the new Special Investigator reporting structure, and thanks to extensive student advocacy, a ban on intimate relationships between teaching staff and students where the member of teaching staff holds academic authority over the student. In addition, the Procedures for the Investigation of Reports of Sexual Violence was passed in conjunction with the Policy amendments. Moving forward, the university will continue to convene meetings of a Working Group and the Implementation Committee of the Policy Against Sexual Violence.

Motion to Acknowledge and Respond to Rape Culture within the SSMU and on McGill’s Campus

On October 12, 2017, the SSMU Legislative Council unanimously passed a motion to acknowledge rape culture at McGill and the SSMU. The text of the motion can be found through this link. This motion was the first step towards the SSMU developing a holistic and survivor-centric response to sexual violence on campus and initiated the creation of the McGill OurTurn Taskforce.

SSMU Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy

In response to the harm perpetrated by members of the SSMU executive in 2017, the SSMU sought to produce its own gendered and sexual violence policy. In January of 2018, funding from SACOMSS was used to hire Caitlin Salvino as the Sexual Violence Policy Project Coordinator and two Sexual Violence Policy Project Advisors: Bee Khaleeli and Priya Dube. They worked to develop a holistic, survivor-centric over the course of the semester, conducting general and closed consultations with the SSMU membership and stakeholders. The final draft of the Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy will be presented to the SSMU Legislative Council in September 2018, and the Project Team’s final report can be accessed here.