Below you will find a list of information concerning campus sexual violence as well as the McGill and community resources available. In the following text we will refer to individuals who have experienced sexual violence as survivors, though we understand that not everyone chooses to self-identify as such; any and all language chosen by someone to define or label their experience of sexual violence, abuse, assault, harm, and trauma is a valid and 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.
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 encompasses 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:
“[A]ny 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:
Any form of sexual touching or the threat of sexual touching without the individual’s consent.
Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that detrimentally affects the working, learning, or living environment of, or leads to adverse consequences for, the one directly subjected to the harassment.
Engaging in conduct that causes an individual to fear for their physical or psychological safety, such as repeatedly following or communicating with someone (through any means), engaging in threatening conduct, or keeping watch over any place where the individual happens to be.
Exposing one’s body to another individual for a sexual purpose or coercing another individual to remove their clothing in order to expose their body without their consent.
Non-consensual viewing, photographing, or otherwise recording of another individual in a location where there is an expectation of privacy and where the viewing, photographing, or recording is done for a sexual purpose.
NONCONSENSUAL DISTRIBUTION OR RECORDING OF A SEXUALLY EXPLICIT PHOTOGRAPH OR RECORDING
The distribution of a sexually explicit photograph or recording of an individual to one or more individuals other than the individual in the photograph, or recording the individual without their consent in a photograph or recording.
Stealthing is defined as nonconsensual condom removal during sexual intercourse. Stealthing “exposes victims [survivors] to physical risks such as pregnancy and disease” and has been characterized by survivors as a “disempowering, demeaning violation of a sexual agreement”.
Responses to Sexual Violence and How You May Be feeling
Anyone can experience sexual violence, regardless of their gender identity. Each survivor’s 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:
Changes in how you view trust, a sense of vulnerability, and feeling unsafe;
Personal and professional impacts;
The Intersectionality of Sexual Violence
At the SSMU, we believe that any and all discussions surrounding sexual violence must take an intersectional approach which 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 — including, but 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 disabled people — are disproportionately impacted by sexual violence.
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 to the SSMU community within 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: email@example.com.
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 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.
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-judgmental, trauma-informed, and have staff who 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:
SACOMSS: The Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society is a volunteer-run organization committed to supporting survivors of sexual assault and their allies through direct support, advocacy, and outreach. Their services include Drop-In and Line (DIAL), Support Groups, Advocacy, and Outreach. The SACOMSS phone line can be reached at 514-398-8500.
McGill Peer Support Centre: The Peer Support Centre offers free, non-judgemental peer support, and can help direct you toward other available resources.
The McGill Students’ Nightline: The McGill Students’ Nightline is a peer resource which offers confidential, anonymous, and non-judgmental listening. Services include active listening, resource referrals, and crisis management. Nightline can be accessed at 514-398-6246.
Legal Information Clinic at McGill: The Student Advocacy Branch at LICM can help students navigate McGill’s internal policies. Their volunteers can inform, advise, and represent students who are undergoing disputes at the University. They can also assist students who have had a complaint filed against them.
The Montréal Sexual Assault Centre: The Centre offers a range of free services to anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or incest, as well as to survivors’ family and friends. Services include medical and legal aid individual therapy for 18+. They also provide listening, support, and referral services for all ages and a toll-free 24/7 helpline for all. The toll free helpline can be reached at 1 800-933-9007; for information about their services, they can be reached at 514-933-4504.
Tel-Aide: A free, anonymous, non-judgmental listening centre for people in distress in both English and French. They can be reached at 514-935-1101.
CIRCLES: CIRCLES is a resource, a letter of solidarity to fellow survivors, and a reconstruction of what it means to heal collectively. The resource document includes an in-depth listing of support services available in the community.
Project 10: The Project promotes the personal, social, sexual, and mental well being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, intersexed, and questioning youth and adults ages 14–25. They provide active listening services, drop-in hours, an accompaniment service, and a listening line that is open Tuesday through Wednesday, 12–6 p.m., and Thursday, 1:3000–6 p.m.. The anonymous listening line can be reached at 514-989-4585 and provides peer support, active listening, as well as information and referrals to LGBITQ services.
Crime Victims Assistance Centre (CAVAC): Crime Victims Assistance Centres offer free, confidential, front-line services to any crime victim or witness in English, French, or Spanish. They provide accompaniment services to police and judicial processes as well as post-traumatic and psychosocial intervention. The Centres also provide legal information, assistance with filing applications or producing documents, and referrals to specialized services. To access their services you must first make an appointment by calling 514-277-9860.
SOS Violence Conjugale: Free, confidential, bilingual hotline for individuals experiencing domestic violence and for people supporting them, available 24/7. They provide support, safety information, evaluations, and direct referrals. They can be reached at 514-873-9010 in Montreal and across Quebec at 1 800-363-9010.
Office for Sexual Violence, Response, Support, and Education (O-SVRSE): The Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support and Education (OSVRSE) provides support to those who have been impacted by sexual and gender-based violence. They provide crisis intervention and short-term counselling and can help connect survivors with resources, assist in safety planning, provide support groups and activities, and assist with academic or workplace accommodations. They can provide information about reporting processes and McGill policies as well as provide accompaniment services for those who wish to make a report, either at McGill or outside of it. Their drop-in hours for 2019-2020 are Tuesdays 1 p.m.–4 p.m. and Fridays 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
Resources for McGill Workers
Counselling Services for AMURE Members: Counselling services for AMURE members: any research employee at McGill who has experienced sexual assault, domestic violence, or abuse can anonymously access counseling and support services at the expense of AMURE’s savings.
Employee and Family Assistance Program: free and confidential service offering short-term counseling and referral services. Your EFAP can be accessed 24/7 by phone, web, or mobile app and is available to regular staff members as well as their spouses and children as part of their benefits.
Resources at MacDonald Campus:
The Office for Sexual Violence, Response, Support, and Education (O-SVRSE): O-SVRSE provides on-campus support at the Macdonald campus at Student Services (Room 121, Centennial Centre) from 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m, biweekly, on Wednesdays – a full list of dates can be found here. These support services are provided during drop-in hours and by appointment. Those who are able to are encouraged to schedule an appointment beforehand by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 514-398-4486.
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 the provincial sexual violence support hotline, run by the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre, at 514-933-9007 or 1 888-933-9007. They are available everyday, 24 hours/day.
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 life. 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:
Exam or assignment deferral;
Class and/or schedule changes;
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 email@example.com.
A survivor-centred approach requires all those who engage in sexual violence prevention and support programming to 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 is, more importantly, completely your choice. After experiencing sexual violence, as a member of the McGill community there are multiple places you could make a complaint, including the criminal justice system, McGill’s policy framework and SSMU’s Gendered and Sexualized Violence Policy.
To learn more about reporting options, click here.
Rape Culture on Campus and SSMU Advocacy
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.
To learn more about what the SSMU is doing to confront and dismantle rape culture, click here.