Sexual Violence Prevention

Emergency Contacts

Emergencies: 911

Info-Santé: 811 (option 1)

Psychosocial Services: 811 (option 2)

JEVI (Suicide Prevention): 819-564-1354 (Estrie)

Provincial suicide prevention line: 1-866-277-3553

Hope for Wellness Helpline (Indigenous individuals): 1-855-242-3310

The National Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419

Trans Estrie (Trans and Non-Binary Individuals): 873-552-1289

Service de Police de Sherbrooke : 819-821‑5555

Sexual Assault Provincial Helpline: 1-888-933-9007

Campus Security: 819-822-9711

Residence Security: 819-560-2374

Alix (LGBTQ+ Communities): https://alix.interligne.co/aide

The Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 toll free (QC: 1-866-277-3553)

CALACS: 1-877-563-0793

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 Available for all Canadians aged 5-29

SHASE (Transmasculine Individuals) 819-933-3555

Champlain Regional College recognizes that sexual violence is a complex and serious problem in society and on college and university campuses across the province, the country and internationally. The College is committed to fostering a culture of consent and support through education, training and related initiatives, informed by survivor-centered and gender-inclusive approaches.

Your experience is real, it’s not your fault and you are not alone. There is a community here to believe you and support you. Whatever you choose to do is your decision.

What To Do

Where to find help

What to do?

Sexual violence is broad and includes a range of behaviours, such as sexual assault, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, sexual exploitation, and others.

 

Different experiences may suggest different courses of action. Contact the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator (SVPC) for help understanding your options and next steps, and for assistance in navigating the support and services available to you.

Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator
Natasha Dionne, Elle/She/Her
Champlain College
2580 College St.
Sherbrooke, Quebec J1M 2K3
819-564-3666 ext. 2400
E-mail: ndionne@crcmail.net

 

Faculty and personnel may contact:

dymond@crcmail.net

OfficeDON 246

Go to a safe place

Go somewhere you can feel safe and comfortable, like your own home, a friend’s place, or with family. You can also go to the hospital, or contact CALACS-Estrie, SHASE, the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator (SVPC), or a community-based organization  for support. You may also want to consider contacting the municipal police.

Get Medical Attention

Even if you do not see or feel any injuries, it is important to get medical attention. Specialized care is available at the local:

Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke-Hôpital Fleurimont

3001,12th Avenue North
Fleurimont, Québec J1N 5N4
819-346-1110
24/7 service

 

Forensic evidence collection will not initiate a report  to police or the College. For evidence collection:

  • It is best to get medical attention within 72 hours.
  • Try to refrain from changing or taking a shower to preserve evidence.

 

It may still be possible to collect some evidence even if more than 72 hours have passed or you have showered and changed.

Where to disclose

In person or online:

Natasha Dionne, Elle/Sher/Her

Social Worker & Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator Champlain College

2580 College St.

Sherbrooke, Quebec J1M 2K3

819-564-3666 ext. 2400

Via email: champlainlistens@crcmail.net

 

Safe Disclosure Boxes: Found in gender neutral bathrooms in CRC building and outside Social Worker, Social Work Technician, Residence offices.

 

Chat & Text: Found on Sexual Violence Prevention, Student Hub, Sexual and Gender Diversity website (add hyperlinks to these pages)

 

Disclosure Form

Off-campus options to disclose sexual violence confidentially or anonymously include (note that these outside options do not provide any information to the campus):

  • Off-campus counselors and advocates. Crisis services offices like CALACS-ESTRIE will maintain confidentiality unless you request disclosure and sign a consent or waiver form. More information on CALACS-ESTRIE’S confidentiality may be obtained directly from their website: calacsestrie.com.
Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator

Champlain College has a Standing Committee on Sexual Violence Prevention to help identify and respond to cases of sexual misconduct. It is comprised of students, faculty, and staff.

 

To help identify cases of sexual misconduct involving members of the Champlain College community, people can turn to the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator (SVPC):

 

Natasha Dionne, Elle/She/Her

Social Worker & Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator Champlain College

2580 College St.

Sherbrooke, Quebec J1M 2K3

819-564-3666 ext. 2400

E-mail: ndionne@crcmail.net

 

Faculty and personnel may contact:

dymond@crcmail.net

OfficeDON 246

Contacts

Emergencies: 911

 

Info-Santé: 811 (option 1)

 

Psychosocial Services: 811 (option 2)

 

JEVI (Suicide Prevention): 819-564-1354 (Estrie)

 

Provincial Suicide Prevention Line: 1-866-277-3553

 

Hope for Wellness Helpline: 1-855-242-3310 (Indigenous individuals)
Available to all Indigenous peoples across Canada who need immediate crisis intervention

 

The National Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419

 

Trans Estrie (Trans and Non-Binary Individuals): 873-552-1289

 

Service de Police de Sherbrooke : 819-821‑5555

 

Sexual Assault Provincial Helpline: 1-888-933-9007

 

Campus Security: 819-822-9711

 

Residence Security: 819-560-2374

 

The Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 toll free (QC: 1-866-277-3553)

 

Alix (LGBTQ+ Communities): https://alix.interligne.co/aide

 

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Available for all Canadians aged 5-29 who want confidential and anonymous care from professional counsellors. 24-hour service

 

Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke-Hôpital Fleurimont: 819-346-1110

3001, 12e avenue Nord, Fleurimont (Québec) J1N 5N4

Services 24H/7 days

 

CALACS (Transfeminine Individual): 1-877-563-0793

1594 Place de la Cité, Sherbrooke, Qc J1H 5M4

819-563-9999

Services 24H/7 days

http://www.calacsestrie.com

 

Women Center Lennoxville District: 819-564-6626

175 Queen Street, Suite 203

Sherbrooke Quebec J1M 1K1

Monday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Tuesday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Wednesday 10 am to 4 pm

Thursday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Available by appointment on Fridays and outside of regular working hours.

http://www.ldwc.ca

 

Centre des femmes La Parolière 819-569-0140

217, rue Belvédère Nord
Sherbrooke (Québec) J1H 5W2
Adresse courriel : info@laparoliere.org

Heures d’ouverture : du lundi au vendredi, de 8 h 30 à 12 h et de 13 h à 16 h 30.

https://laparoliere.org

 

Centre pour femmes immigrantes de l’Estrie: 819-822-2259

942 rue Belvédère Nord

Sherbrooke, Qc, H1J 4C3

Monday to Friday 9:30 amto 4:30 pm

https://www.facebook.com/centre.pourfemmesimmigrantes

 

La Méridienne-Women Shelter: 1-888-699-3050
819-877-3050
24H/7 days
http://lameridienne.ca

 

SHASE (Transmasculine Individuals): 819-933-3555

Learn More

Policies

What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence is any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality.

 

This includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, degrading sexual imagery, distribution of sexual images or video of a community member without their consent, cyber harassment or cyber stalking of a sexual nature or related to a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or presentation.

 

Sexual violence is prevalent and the impacts on survivors and their communities are many.  It is estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of sexual violence during their lifetime. These statistics only give us part of the picture; because of the barriers that various forms of oppression create within our communities and institutions, we have limited data on the many other individuals that experience high rates of sexual violence, for example individuals who are transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, Indigenous, people of colour, and people living with disabilities.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact. There are a range of behaviours and actions that fall under the definition of sexual assault. Sexual assault is not only unwanted penetration (rape), it is also any unwanted sexual touching, kissing, grabbing, etc.

 

Sexual assault is about the perpetrator exerting power and control – it is not about love, desire, or sexuality. Sexual assault is never the fault of the survivor.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a course of unwanted remarks, behaviours, innuendo, taunting, or communications of a sexual nature, and/or a course of unwanted remarks, behaviours, or communications based on gender, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation where the person responsible for the remarks, behaviours, or communications knows or ought to a reasonable extent know that they are unwelcome.

 

Sexual harassment may consist of unwanted attention of a sexual nature such as personal questions about one’s sex life, unwelcome sexual invitations or requests, or unwelcome remarks about someone’s appearance.

 

Sexual harassment may also consist of unwelcome remarks based on gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation where such remarks may not be of a sexual nature but are nevertheless demeaning, such as derogatory gender-based jokes or comments.

 

A single serious incidence of such behaviour may constitute harassment if it results in the same consequences and if it produces a lasting harmful effect on the survivor.

Consent

Consent is an agreement between all participants. It must be mutual, voluntary, informed, and ongoing. One of the most important things you can do is ask for, and ensure you have, your partner’s consent. Anything other than voluntary and continuous agreement to engage in sexual activity is not consent.

 

There is no consent when:

  • A person expresses by words, gestures, conduct, or any other means, a lack of agreement to engage in sexual activity
  • A person having consented to engage in consensual activity, expresses a lack of agreement to continue in the activity
  • One person submits to sexual activity because the accused threatens or uses force
  • One person submits to sexual activity because the accused threatens or uses force against a third person
  • Lies are used to obtain consensual sexual activity
  • A person is incapable of consenting to the activity (mental disability, incapacitated by drugs and alcohol)
  • A third party says yes for someone
  • A person engages in sexual activity because an accused has abused a position of trust, power, and authority
  • The accused is a blood relative
  • One person is under 14 and the other more than two years older
  • Both people are under 14 with less than two years between them, but the older person is in a position of trust or dependency (e.g. a babysitter)
  • One person is 14, 15, 16, 17 and the older person is in a position of trust or authority
Disclosing vs Reporting

Disclosing or Reporting Sexual Violence?

 

If you have been affected by sexual violence or harassment, contact  the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator (SVPC). We will explain your options under the Champlain College’s Policy on Sexual Violence and help you understand what the process may involve.

 

Understanding the Difference

 

Champlain College’s Policy on Sexual Violence distinguishes between a disclosure and a report of sexual violence.

 

Disclosing or reporting are separate decisions that result in different levels of response or action by the College.

 

Disclosure: Telling a member of the college community about an incident of sexual violence

 

  • Disclosure is simply sharing your experience of sexual violence. A disclosure does not launch any kind of formal process and it does not have to include significant or specific detail.
  • You can disclose to anyone; a friend or fellow student, colleague, faculty member, staff member, or teaching assistant. You can also disclose to the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator (SPVC).
  • When you disclose to the SPVC, we will make support and services available and can discuss counselling and access or referrals to medical services, and we will assist you with academic, housing, transportation, employment, and other reasonable needs, and the available accommodation options regardless of your reporting choices. You do not have to make a report to access these services.
  • A disclosure does not lead to a report unless you want it to, or unless Champlain College’s failure to act does not adequately mitigate the risk of harm to you or other members of the campus community.

 

Report: Telling about an incident of sexual violence to initiate a formal complaint

 

  • To initiate a formal complaint, such as a disciplinary process through Champlain Colllege, a report must be made.
  • A report includes specific details of what happened, when, where, and who was involved.
  • You can report an incident of sexual violence to the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator (SVPC).
  • Reporting to the SVPC about an incident involving a member of the college community may trigger an independent internal investigation or other process that can ultimately result in academic or workplace accommodation suspension, expulsion, or other forms of disciplinary action. The College may impose interim measures to keep the complainant and the respondent separate, such as:
    • Changes to class, academic, or work schedules
    • Changes to residence accommodations
    • Other measures provided for under the Champlain College Policy on Sexual Violence, collective agreements, employment agreements, or human resources policies, depending on whether the respondent is a student, staff, or faculty member

     

  • It is up to you whether, when, how, and to which body you want to report an incident of sexual violence. You may want to seek CALACS-ESTRIE as part of your decision-making process.

 

Police Report:

 

  • You also have the option to make a report to local police.
  • A report made to the police is separate from a report made to the College.
  • A police report does not always trigger a police investigation or criminal proceedings.

 

You can speak to the SPVC, CALACS-ESTRIE, or to the local police to learn more about reporting to the police.

Confidential vs Anonymous

If you report or disclose an act of sexual violence, you may wish to maintain confidentiality or do not consent to initiate an investigation. Your request will be respected unless Champlain College’s failure to act does not adequately mitigate the risk of harm to you or other members of the campus community. It is our obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all members of our community, including you. We may take proactive steps, such as training or awareness efforts, to combat sexual violence in a general way that does not identify you or the situation you disclosed. Honoring your request of confidentiality may also limit our ability to meaningfully investigate and pursue action against an accused individual. We will ensure that any information regarding your identity or the identity of the offender will be only available to those who have authorized access such as the SPVC.

 

A confidential disclosure or report will give you access to support, services and references and academic, housing, transportation, employment, and other reasonable and available accommodations.

 

If you disclose an act of sexual violence, you may also wish to maintain anonymous. There are options and instructions for anonymous support and assistance that are available at Champlain College including an online chat and online form. An anonymous disclosure dos not allow us to meaningfully investigate and pursue action against an accused individual but will give you access to support, services or references.

Training Modules
Myths and Facts about Sexual Violence

There are many myths about sexual violence that influence how it is understood by victim-survivors, perpetrators, their families and friends, and the broader public.

 

These myths that perpetuate a rape culture appear in the media, in advertisements, on television shows, in movies and video games, on the Internet and in society in general.

 

Anybody, regardless of their culture, education, socioeconomic status, religion, occupation, race, sexual orientation, gender, sexuality or privilege, has the right to say no to unwanted sexual touching. Unfortunately, many of society’s views about women, sexuality and power are grounded in deeply ingrained notions of oppression, racism, sexism, hetero-sexism, homophobia and other forms of power. The result is the misconception that the victim-survivor is to blame.

 

These myths about sexual violence and abuse keep victims from speaking out, getting help and holding their perpetrators responsible for the assault. The truth is, no one consents to sexual assault. Getting the facts and challenging myths can be the first step in ending sexual violence, and finding ways to best support victimsurvivors of sexual assault and abuse.

 

Understanding Rape Culture

 

Rape culture is one in which dominant ideas, social practices and media images condone sexual assault in that it views sexual violence as normal and even expected. Rape Culture permeates various societal structures, including social institutions, which represent a microcosm of the larger society. In rape culture, sexual violence is sustained by a society that both covers up and excuses sexual assault and places the responsibility for assault on the survivor. This tendency is often referred to as victim blaming. Rape Culture is perpetuated by rape jokes; silence from institutions when allegations of sexual assault arise; warnings to women about clothing choices or walking alone, rather than teaching both men and women about consent; and doubting survivors who report sexual assaults.

 

Rape culture is also reflected in general attitudes about what constitutes sexual assault.

 

Myths about sexual violence indicate a lack of understanding about consent, and can indicate that sexual assaults are viewed in part as the survivor’s fault. Such an attitude creates a reluctance to report and a fear of the legal process because survivors feel they will not be believed, and will not receive a fair hearing, or might even believe that they “asked for it.” Understanding rape culture will make problematic attitudes about sexual violence easier to address.

 

Key facts

  • Sexual assault is about power and control. It is not about sexual attraction or desirability.
  • When people commit sexual assault, they are responsible, not the victims. Victims do not consent to sexual assault.
  • Sexual violence can happen to anyone. It does not discriminate based on religion, culture, affluence, privilege, location, sexual orientation, profession, marital status, education, age, gender, etc.

Myths and facts associated with sexual violence:

 

Myths Facts
It wasn’t rape, so it wasn’t sexual violence. Any unwanted sexual contact constitutes sexual violence. Many forms of sexual violence, including such things as stalking or distributing intimate videos, involve no physical contact. All of these acts are serious and potentially damaging.
Sexual violence cannot occur between partners involved in a relationship. Sexual violence can occur in a marriage or any other intimate partner relationship. Sex cannot happen without consent. If there is no consent, it is sexual assault. Period.  Sexual assault can happen even in longterm relationships.
Having sex with a person who is drunk, stoned or passed out is no big deal. If a person is unconscious, s/he and cannot legally give CONSENT. Similarly, a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not capable of consent. Sex without consent is sexual assault.

 

Alcohol is the #1 drug used in drug facilitated sexual assault. Perpetrators use alcohol to increase victim vulnerability and to reduce resistance to sexual violence.

Sexual violence has not occurred if a victim does not report it to the police. Failure to report assault in no way means it did not occur. Fewer than one in ten victim-survivors report the crime to police.
Sexual violence has not occurred if a victim has not screamed or fought. Victims can be paralyzed with fear and therefore be unable to fight back. They may be afraid that struggling may cause the perpetrator to become more violent. Drugs and alcohol can also impair the victim’s ability to react or resist.
Serious sexual assault does not occur if the person does not cry or appear visibly upset. Each person reacts differently. They may cry or seem upset. Their behaviour is not necessarily an indicator of the level of their trauma.
Sexual violence has not occurred if the person displays no obvious physical injuries such as cuts or bruises.  

Lack of physical injury in no way indicates person was not sexually assaulted. A perpetrator can use threats, weapons or other types of coercion that do not leave physical marks on the body. Victims may also have been unconscious or otherwise incapacitated during an assault.

Sexual violence has not really happened if the victim cannot remember the assault or the order in which events took place. Shock, fear, embarrassment and distress can all impair memory. Many survivors attempt to minimize, even forget the details of the assault as a coping mechanism. In addition, memory loss is common in cases of drug or alcohol consumption.
When a person says “no”, it usually means “yes”. When a person says “no”, it means “no”. Ignoring a victim’s refusal or choosing not to understand indicates the deliberate decision to ignore consent. Without a victim’s consent, sex becomes assault.
Women lie and make up stories about being sexually assaulted. The number of false reports of sexual assault is very low and consistent with the number of false reports made for other crimes in Canada. In fact, sexual assault carries such stigma that many women prefer not to report.

Only 2-3% of reported sexual assaults turn out to be false. This percentage is actually lower than the false reporting of other offences such as theft. It is important to remember that sexual assault is shockingly under-reported with only 10% ever coming to the attention of the police. In short, nine out of ten women never report their assault to the authorities.

Some victims ask for assault because of behaviour or choice of clothing. No victim asks to be sexually assaulted regardless of actions or appearance. Hitchhiking, staying out late, drinking or doing drugs, dressing seductively, wanting a relationship, or expressing a desire to go home with someone does not constitute an invitation to sexual assault.

 

Dressing in revealing clothing does not equal consent. Every person has the right to accept or decline advances. When society judges with comments such as “Look at how you’re dressed. You’re asking for it,” victims are turned into the instigators of their own assaults, thus removing the responsibility from the actual perpetrator. Sexual violence is about power and control, and not desire or attraction.

Victims-survivors who become sexually excited or have an orgasm during a sexual assault are consenting because they’re experiencing pleasurable feelings. People/Victims of sexual assault can have reflexive physical reactions to sexual stimulation. Regardless of victims’ reactions, consent is not present if they don’t verbalize it.
Offenders can’t control their sexual urges. Sexual assault is an act of violence. Assaults are not about sexual desire or an inability to control urges. Sexual assault is about one person exerting control over another.
All offenders have mental health problems. In the majority of cases, an alleged attacker is a member of the victim’s family or an acquaintance who has no mental health problems. Sexual violence is about power and control, not a matter of mental health.
All men who sexually assault other males are homosexuals. Offenders often have gender or age preferences for victims. Most men who sexually assault other males are heterosexual. Sexual violence is about power and control, not sexual orientation.
Sexual assault is a heterosexual experience. Sexual assault is not about attraction, desirability, sexual orientation or intimacy. Sexual assault is about power and control.

 

Sexual assault also does not discriminate. Regardless of culture, socioeconomic status, religion, occupation, race, education, sexual orientation, gender or privilege, victims People from every community can experience sexual violence.

 

However, certain groups are at higher risk for sexual assault. Young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 years are more likely to experience sexual assault. Lesbian, gay, transgendered, and bisexual individuals are also at higher risk for sexual assault including individuals with disabilities too.

 

Women of colour and First Nations, Inuit and Métis women are also at higher risk.

 

There are many reasons certain demographic groups are at increased risk and most have to do with racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression that are deeply ingrained in our society and our understanding of sexuality and violence.

One way to stop sexual violence is to ignore it. Ignoring sexual violence can only lead increased incidents of sexual violence as perpetrators quickly realize the vulnerability of certain target individuals/groups.
Sexual harassment and flirting are all the same. The difference between flirting and sexual harassment is CONSENT. Flirting is mutual and wanted; sexual harassment is not. Sexual harassment occurs when there is no consent from the target person.
Sexual assaults are committed by strangers during the night. The majority of sexual assaults occur during the day, at home, and by someone known to the victim. Studies show that only 25% of assaults are committed by strangers. However, other studies indicate that 85% of women know their assailants (friends, partners, service providers, family members or acquaintances).
All offenders are men. While women commit very few reported sexual assaults, it does happen. Studies involving same-sex sexual violence are just beginning to emerge.  Researchers certainly know that sexual violence occurs within lesbian relationships. Nevertheless, the latest statistics demonstrate that 94% of all sexual perpetrators are males. This percentage is greater than that for violent crimes, including physical assaults (82%) (Statistics Canada, 2014).
Men cannot be victim-survivors of sexual violence 1 out of 6 men experience sexual violence in their lifetimes. While most male sexual assaults happen under the age of 18, sexual violence can and does affect men.
Men are overtly sexual beings Both women and men are sexual beings. They are also rational beings capable of controlling their own impulses. This means that both men and women can consent to, stop in the middle of, or continue with sexual activity. It does men a disservice to believe they are incapable of controlling their own bodies.

 

Toxic notions of masculinity contribute to the myth that men are overtly sexual, incapable of controlling their sexual urges.  The media bombards us with harmful stereotypes of “real men,” which normalizes images of dominant, over-sexualized males, which serve only to reinforce rape culture.

Policy against sexual violence

Sexual violence is not tolerated at Champlain College. The College is committed to survivor-centered, trauma-informed and gender-inclusive approaches. The College recognizes that sexual violence can occur between individuals regardless of sexual orientation, gender, gender-identity or expression, or relationship status and that victims of sexual violence who are members of LGBTQIA+, Indigenous, racialized communities and other marginalized groups are often further disadvantaged, ignored, under- supported and retraumatized by processes addressing sexual violence. The College is deeply committed to ensuring that all members of the college community are able to study, work, socialize and live in a campus environment free of sexual violence, regardless of their identity.

 

Policy link to by-law

 

Disclosure, Reporting and Complaints Procedures

 

Rules of procedure: Standing Committee on Sexual Violence and Sub-Committee

A guide to reporting & disclosing at Champlain-Lennoxville

Resources

Possible Impacts of Sexual Violence

The impact of a sexual assault can be disruptive to a person’s daily life. You may experience some of the following effects or you may experience others that are not on this list. Whatever impacts you do experience are valid, and it is important that you find ways to seek support in coping with them. You may experience some of the following impacts and responses:

 

  • shock
  • sadness
  • denial
  • numbness
  • fear/terror
  • lack of trust
  • shame
  • self-blame/guilt
  • anger
  • overwhelmed feeling/confusion
  • change in appetite
  • change in relationships
  • disturbed sleep/nightmares
  • change in how you feel about sex and intimacy
  • shift in assumptions about your safety in the world

The impacts of a sexual assault can be affected by the wider social attitudes about sexual violence and the specific context of your own life. Some of these factors include the following: Societal myths about sexual violence, the presence or absence of supportive people in your life, reactions of those you disclose the assault to, your experience of other forms of violence and oppression in your life (e.g. racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism, ageism, etc.), and individual coping strategies.

 

After a time, a victim-survivor may find that she/he has developed the inner and outer resources to help her/him cope with the impacts of the assault. A victim-survivor may find that there is pressure from family and friends to move on.

 

It is important to remember that everyone has her/his own pace for moving through the impact of a sexual assault. It is also important that a victim-survivor try to use the resources for support that she/he is comfortable connecting with to help her/him through this difficult time. This support can come from a friend, a family member, your partner, the SPVC of Champlain College, or a counsellor that you trust.

Self-Care

There is no right or wrong way to engage in self-care. Self-care is about making time for ourselves and tending to our needs. It helps us to equip ourselves during difficult times. It can be preventive, helping to keep us in a positive space, and it can help us grow even when things are going well. This is a list of ideas, some that cost money and take time (which may limit some from doing them), but many are low-cost or free and only take a few minutes. Also, many can be added. The most important thing is to think about what works for you and to regularly carve out space for yourself.

Emotional Self-Care
  • Ask for a hug
  • Listen to music
  • Talk to a friend
  • Do deep-breathing exercises
  • Burn essential oils
  • Cry
  • Go for a walk/exercise
  • Look at old photos
  • Express yourself (e.g. journal/write/paint)
  • Smile
  • Drink tea
  • Light some candles
  • Sit outside in the sun
  • Go for a walk in the rain
Spiritual Self-Care
  • Share thoughts/feelings with trusted friends and family
  • Ensure personal time for self-care (at least 20 minutes a day)
  • Visit a temple/mosque/synagogue/church/somewhere serene
  • Pray/smudge/engage in positive rituals • Do good deeds for others
  • Meditate
  • Stargaze
  • Try to make new friends
  • Play with pets
  • Listen to music
  • Connect with nature (e.g. go camping or hiking, visit a park or garden)
Mental Self-Care
  • Learn a new hobby (e.g. play a new instrument, learn salsa, etc.)
  • Make crafts (e.g. make magnets, make candles, beading, knitting, carving, embroidery, make cards, make a zine, make your own t-shirt/clothes, etc.)
  • Balance negative thoughts with positive thoughts • Study a new language
  • Join a club (e.g. sports, photography, pottery, jogging)
  • Talk to a friend
  • Make a puzzle
  • Read
  • Journal, write a short story or poetry
  • Paint
  • Watch a movie/documentary
  • Think of an accomplishment of which you are proud
  • Daydream
Physical Self-Care
  • Have a warm bath
  • Go for a walk/exercise/do yoga/stretch
  • Go sledding/skating/skiing
  • Get enough quality sleep/naps
  • Do grounding/breathing/visualization/relaxation exercises
  • Explore a new place in the city (e.g. a new part of town, festival, or market)
  • Create a project (e.g. rearrange/redecorate your bedroom)
  • Garden/care for plants
  • Bake/cook – learn a new recipe
  • Pamper yourself (e.g. get a haircut, nails painted, give yourself a facial, put nice lotion on your skin, soak your feet)
  • Go dancing or learn different types of dancing
  • Go bowling
  • Drink tea
Relaxation Techniques

Deep Breathing

  1. Sit or stand in a comfortable position.
  2. Inhale slowly through the nose while pushing out the stomach.
  3. Hold for several seconds.
  4. Exhale slowly through pursed lips.
  5. Repeat these steps several times.
  6. Shift concentration from breathing to a feeling of relaxation.

Progressive Relaxation

  1. Inhale and tense muscles of brow and around eyes and observe the feeling.
  2. Exhale and release the tension and observe the difference.
  3. Concentrate on the difference between the two (tension and relaxation).
  4. Tense the muscles of the mouth and jaw, and then release as above.
  5. Progress through the muscles of the neck and shoulders.
  6. Progress throughout the body.

Meditation

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Reduce any distractions.
  3. Mentally focus on one peaceful word, thought, or image.
  4. Breathe deeply.
  5. Avoid becoming discouraged by intrusive thoughts; let them wash over you.

Visualization

  1. Picture a tranquil, real or imaginary setting.
  2. Imagine yourself in this setting.
  3. Look around and observe the visual details.
  4. Pay attention to specific smells, sounds, feelings, and sensations.
  5. Imagine how relaxed you are able to be in this setting.
Coping

The following suggestions are referred to as “grounding strategies”:

  1. Get away from the panic-evoking situation if you need to and if possible.
  2. Breathe deep breaths through your nose to increase the air flow to your lungs and help reduce your heart rate and panic response. Exhale slowly through your mouth.
  3. Don’t try to control or fight your reactions; accept them and “ride them out” reminding yourself that the panic is not dangerous and will pass.
  4. Call someone and express your feelings to them.
  5. Move around or engage in physical activity.
  6. Focus on simple objects around you. Many people find it helpful to go through a sequence whereby they identify five things they can see, five things they can hear, five things they can smell, and continue through this process until the panic subsides.
  7. Touch the floor, the physical objects around you, or ground yourself in some other way, i.e. plant your feet on the floor.
  8. Recall known information such as the current time and date, your age, etc.
  9. If your location permits, release your tension by pounding your fists, venting your anger, or crying.
  10. Breathe slowly and regularly through your nose to reduce possible hyperventilation.
  11. Use positive self-talk (coping statements) in conjunction with slow breathing.
  12. Ask yourself, “What is the most supportive thing that I could do for myself right now?”
  13. Experiment with different coping strategies when you feel panic reactions progressing. Over time you will learn which strategies work best for you.

(Adapted from: The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne)

Sleep Disturbance and Nightmares

The following are suggestions that have been recommended to help improve both the quality and amount of your sleep:

  1. Exercise during the day, preferably in the late afternoon before dinner. Aerobic exercise (20 minutes or more) is better, but 45 minutes to an hour of brisk walking is helpful.
  2. Go to bed and get up at regular times, even if you’re tired in the morning. Don’t vary your time of going to bed or getting up.
  3. Don’t try to make yourself sleep. If you are unable to fall asleep after 20-30 minutes in bed, get up or engage in some relaxing activity (such as watching TV, sitting in a chair and listening to a relaxation tape, or having a cup of herbal tea), and do not return to bed until you feel sleepy.
  4. Avoid heavy meals before bedtime or going to bed hungry (a small snack before bedtime may be helpful).
  5. Avoid heavy alcohol consumption before bedtime.
  6. Unwind during the last hour or two of the day. Avoid vigorous physical or mental activity, emotional disturbance, etc.
  7. Reduce caffeine and nicotine consumption as much as possible. If you must have coffee, do so early in the day.
  8. Instead of prescription drugs, try natural supplements that foster sleep.
  9. Develop a sleep ritual before bedtime. This is some kind of activity that you do every night before you get into bed. A hot shower or bath before bedtime may help you to relax.
  10. For relaxing tense muscles or a racing mind, use deep relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided visualization.
  11. Avoid napping during the day.
  12. Don’t let yourself become worried about insomnia. Work on accepting those nights when you don’t sleep that well. You can still function the next day, even if you have only had a couple of hours of sleep. The less you fight, resist, or fear sleeplessness, the more it will tend to go away.
  13. Talk about distressing feelings, emotions, and thoughts with a support person, be it a friend, family member, or counsellor. Getting more emotional support and expressing your feelings will often help you sleep.

(Adapted from: The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne)

A Word to Friends and Families

After a friend, family member, or partner has been sexually assaulted, they may experience strong and conflicting emotions, some of which you may also experience. You may find yourself feeling:

  • angry at what has happened to your loved one
  • helpless and confused as to how you can be of help to them
  • sadness and grief
  • discomfort in your relationship with your loved one
  • upset and frustrated with the changes in your relationship with the assaulted person

 

It is important that you know that after a person has been sexually assaulted, they may experience overwhelming emotional and physical reactions. You may be wondering what you can do to help. It will not be an easy time for you or for the person who has been assaulted, but here are some suggestions as to how you can be supportive:

  • Listen to her/him without judgment.
  • Support her/his decisions in every way possible.
  • Help her/him find the resources and support they may need.
  • Recognize your feelings are separate from theirs.
  • Realize your own limitations, take time out for self-care when you need it.
  • Control the urge to make decisions for your loved one; it is important that you allow them to take time out for self-care when they need it.
  • Avoid asking “why” questions and reinforce the fact that the sexual assault was not their fault.
  • Be patient with them as they struggle to come to terms with the assault.
  • Acknowledge and validate whatever they are feeling and their need to express those feelings, avoid telling them how you think they should be reacting.

 

(Adapted from: Sexual Assault: Information for Families by Victoria Women’s Sexual Assault Centre and Caring for a Friend or Family Member Following Sexual Assault by Sexual Assault Program, Women’s Health Care Centre, Peterborough Regional Health Centre)

Resources if you are accused of sexual assault

Centre d’intervention en violence et abus sexuels de l’Estrie (CIVAS Estrie)

Téléphone : 819 564-5127

Courriel : civas.e@bellnet.ca

 

The CIVAS therapy program is designed for male and female clients, youth (14 years and older) and adults. Those who use CIVAS services do so on a voluntary basis or are referred by Quebec Correctional Services, the courts, Youth Centres, Health and Social Services Centres, various community organizations, etc.

 

To be able to join the CIVAS program, an application must first be initiated by the person who wishes to benefit from the services, a relative of the person or a professional (social worker, doctor, psychologist, etc.). If needed, you can have a letter of referral by asking the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU RECEIVE A DISCLOSURE

If someone discloses an experience of sexual violence to you, your reaction could significantly impact what they choose to do next. It is common to feel unsure about what to say when receiving a disclosure, but you have an opportunity to provide non-judgmental support and information. Here are some general tips on how to react when receiving a disclosure of sexual violence:

 

  1. Listen & believe.
  2. Let them know that it was not his/her fault and that s/he is not alone.
  3. Respect how they describe their experience: use their chosen words/vocabulary. For instance, some may see themselves as victims; others prefer to view themselves as survivors.
  4. Find out what help is available in your community and share this information with the victim[1]survivor when s/he is ready. You can accompany them if they wish.
  5. Take care of yourself. If you have received a disclosure, practice self-care by seeking support for yourself.
  6. You may contact the Social Worker, Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator at Champlain College or refer you to support if needed.
  7. DO NOT share the disclosure with your friends, family members or colleagues. Confidentiality is important for the safety and well-being of the person who discloses to you.