If You’ve Experienced an Incident of Sexual Violence
If you’ve experienced or think you’ve experienced sexual violence, help is available and you have options. It’s important that you know what happened to you is not your fault and you are not alone.
It is your choice to share as much or as little information as you would like;
It is your choice to decide how you would like to handle what happened to you;
It is your choice whether or not to report what happened to you;
It is your choice to receive help.
The following steps can help you understand your options so you can make informed decisions for yourself.
1. Make sure you’re safe
The most important thing you can do is find a safe space. This may be the home or room of a friend, or any place where you feel physically and emotionally safe. Talk with someone you trust, such as a friend or family member.
2. Seek medical care
Receiving medical attention is imperative for your safety and to ensure evidence is collected. Have someone you trust accompany you. Although you may find it difficult to do so, consider not showering, urinating, eating, drinking, smoking or chewing gum to preserve physical evidence. Also, consider waiting to change, wash or destroy your clothing before being examined. Certain evidence can be collected only up to 72 hours after an incident, but it’s your choice what you would like collected. Before this happens your options will be discussed with you.
- Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre at St. Joseph’s Hospital
- Explains your options if you want to move forward
- You have the option to submit evidence anonymously in a sexual assault kit
- Will call London Police to pick up and store kit for 1 year
- If you don’t file a police report within 1 year, London Police disposes of it
- Student Health Services
3. Report the incident
Your safety, security, and well-being is first and foremost. You may find yourself expressing a range of emotional and physical responses. Each survivor has their own person experience, emotions, and ways of coping. There is not right or wrong way to feel or react following an experience of sexual violence. You do not have to file a report or compliant to seek assistance, support, or accommodation(s) from Brescia or Western.
Many people don’t realize there is a difference between disclosing and filing a report or complaint, but there is:
- Disclosing: A disclosure can be made to anyone with whom you feel comfortable and trust. Survivors have their own reasons for disclosing and disclose in their own time.
- Filing Report or Complaint: Typically refers to an official incident report made to a law-enforcement authority or to a university administrative office.
You can report an incident of sexual violence at any time, no matter how much time has passed. If you wish to report, now or later, gathering evidence—and the time-frame in which you do it—is critical.
You may be uncertain about how you want to proceed, so understanding your options is important. Reporting is a difficult decision that is not simple or obvious. We recognize that your feelings about reporting and which reporting options you want to pursue may change over time. Please see ‘Report an Incident’ for more information.
4. Find support
Support is available for survivors of sexual violence and it’s okay to ask for help. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength. The resources below (in alphabetical order) can help you in a variety of ways. Please see ‘Resources’ for more information.