Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence

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.

Page Contents


1) What is Sexual Violence? Understanding and Recognizing Experiences of Harm
2) Responses to Sexual Violence and How You May Be Feeling
3) The Intersectionality of Sexual Violence
4) Contact
5) Getting Support
6) Accomodation Options
7) Reporting Options
8) Rape Culture on Campus and SSMU Advocacy

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:

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:

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.

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 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: 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 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.

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-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:
Community Resources:
Institutional Resources:
Resources for McGill Workers
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 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.

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 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:

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.

Reporting Options

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.