Safety comes first
If you are witnessing an act of sexual violence on campus or if the immediate safety of the survivor or any other member of the community is at risk, call 911 immediately or notify Campus Security at 250-370-3075.
Supporting a disclosure
When someone discloses to you that they have been subjected to sexual violence or misconduct, listen to them, believe them and validate them.
It can help to use the acronym CLEAR to remember these steps.
Confirm their immediate safety and find privacy
- If an assault happened recently, make sure the survivor is in a safe location away from the perpetrator.
- If their physical safety or the safety of any community member is at risk - call 911 or contact Campus Security at 250-370-3075.
- The survivor can contact the Victoria Sexual Assault Clinic directly at 250-383-3232 for support and services (accessible 24/7).
- If the survivor says that they would feel most supported at Counselling Services, walk them to the Counselling Centre on campus.
- They can also contact the Office of Student Support.
Find a safe place to talk
Disclosures are sensitive, personal, and private matters. Find a comfortable, private place to have your disclosure conversation. Make adjustments to the setting to ensure privacy and comfort.
Listen without judgment
Survivors may be very apprehensive about sharing their personal, difficult information for the first time. A supportive response can make a big difference. Here are some ways to communicate support and concern:
Let the survivor control the pace of the conversation
Listen carefully and without judgment
Acknowledge the courage it took to come forward
Give them time to decide what they'd like to do next
Questioning the survivor's behaviour or experience
Making dismissive or victim-blaming statements
Interrupting or asking for specific details about the incident
Making physical contact without their consent
Knowing that one's personal information will be treated confidentially is essential in creating the safety required for someone to feel comfortable enough to disclose sexual violence or misconduct, and to seek support. Tell the person that you will respect their privacy and the confidentiality of their personal information to the fullest extent possible.
In rare cases, in accordance with the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy, the college may be required to breach confidentiality. A student will be notified by the Office of Student Support if confidentiality needs to be breached in accordance with privacy legislation and applicable laws and policies.
The college may be required to breach confidentiality in cases where:
- An individual is identified as being at imminent risk of harming themselves or another.
- There are reasonable grounds to believe that members of the college community or wider community may be at risk of harm.
- It is necessary to do so in order to promote fairness of process for all parties involved.
- Notification and/or action is required by law, other college policies, or an external body with proper authority (ex. if one of the people involved is a minor, or if a judge subpoenas the college's case records).
Assist them with support and information
An important part of supporting someone who has experienced sexual violence or misconduct is to provide them with information about their options for support and resolution. Navigating college and community resources can be challenging. A good place to start is to ask them what support looks like for them. See Services for a full range of options.
If they have recently experienced sexual violence or assault, recommend that they contact the Victoria Sexual Assault Clinic 24/7 at 250-383-3232, where they can meet with a support worker and a specially trained forensic nurse examiner. Here, they will receive the appropriate medical examination, medication, crisis support, connections to community resources, and reporting options. Alternately, they may choose to go to a hospital emergency department.
- If they choose not to seek medical support, and they are a student, recommend that they contact the Counselling Centre on campus, the Office of Student Support, or the Camosun College Student Society (CCSS).
- If they choose not to seek medical or professional support, encourage them to tell a trusted friend or family member.
Recommend they speak directly to the Office of Student Support, in order to learn about the options for resolution of situations involving sexual violence or misconduct. This office can assist with:
- Safety planning
- Referrals to medical and community support services
- Self-care resources
- Academic and workplace accommodations
- Understanding available reporting options
- Navigating systems and resources within the College and the community
Ask the person what support looks like for them. It’s important for the person to leave your conversation with a sense of a positive next step.
Respect their choices
Remind the person making the disclosure that there are different options for how to proceed toward resolving the situation, including receiving support and taking no further action. The college respects their right to proceed according to their preferred choice and their readiness. Encourage them to practice self-care and to connect with the support that feels right for them – whether this is a friend, family member, a college or community service.
What to expect when someone discloses
Each survivor has their own personal experience, emotions, and ways of coping with sexual violence or misconduct. There is no right or wrong way for someone to act when telling their story of sexual violence. These responses can be a common reaction to sexual violence or misconduct:
- Sadness, fear, grief, or anger
- Shame, self-doubt, or self-blame
- Anxiety, panic, or hyper-vigilance
- Flatness or calm
- Hesitance or reluctance to talk about it
- Confusion or memory loss
- Distraction and inability to concentrate
- Disbelief or denial
- Uncertainty about what happened
Whether you are a student or an employee, it is important to respect the limits of your knowledge and skills. Remember, you are not an expert in this area and you don't have to have all the answers. It can also be challenging to give or receive a disclosure and have a disclosure conversation. Practicing self-care means asking for what you need.