Sexual Violence

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.

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.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.
    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. 
Responses to Sexual Violence and How You May Be feeling

Anyone can experience sexual violence, regardless of their gender identity. Each person’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 a longer time. 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 person’s journey is unique.

Some of the possible responses to sexual violence you may experience include:
  • Mental health impacts (e.g., depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts);
  • Physical injury;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Sexually transmitted infections;
  • Dissociation;
  • Flashbacks and triggers;
  • Self-injurious coping behaviours (e.g., self-harm, substance abuse, eating disorders);
  • Changes in how you view trust, a sense of vulnerability, and feeling unsafe;
  • Personal and professional impacts;
  • Academic difficulties.
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.

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 people who have experienced sexual violence 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.

The Anti-Violence Coordinators (AVCs) are responsible for coordinating SSMU’s response to sexual violence, and they can be reached at

They can receive complaints about sexual and gendered violence and connect individuals who have experienced sexual and gender based violence and their supporters to resources. They also provide the SSMU GSVP training and coordinate the Involvement Restriction Policy, along with other faculties. 

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.  For information about support resources that are confidential, non-judgmental, trauma-informed, and have staff who can work with people who have experienced sexual violence as they process their experience and seek healing, click here. They can be accessed at any point regardless of when the incident(s) occurred and are free of charge.

Accommodation Options

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 at SSMU, McGill University, or the police to access these accommodations.

Possible accommodations include:

  • Exam or assignment deferrals;
  • Class and/or work schedule changes;
  • Housing changes;
  • No-contact orders.

If you would like support in accessing accommodations you can contact:

Reporting Options

If you have experience gendered or sexual violence, as a member of the SSMU and McGill community, there are places where you can file a report. 

A report can result in a formal investigation, and consequences and disciplinary measures on the person(s) who caused harm. It can also lead to an alternative or informal mediation process. 

To learn more about reporting options, click here.

Rape Culture on Campus and SSMU Advocacy

Rape culture is a culture in which sexual violence is normalized and accepted. 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. It is shaped by power dynamics within and between communities and social structures that existed historically and persist today. It is reinforced through dominant ideas, social practices, media images, and social institutions condone sexual violence. 

To learn more about what the SSMU is doing to confront and dismantle rape culture, click here.

Support Resources

Please find support resources here. 

SSMU Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy

Please find more information on the SSMU Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy here.