Informative · Stigma · Student · UOIT Mental Health Services

Sexual Assault on Campuses

Imagine the following:

You’ve decided to go to an event being thrown on campus, maybe with some friends or with someone you just met. You think they’re cute, and spend some time with them throughout the event. When they make advances toward you that indicate that they would like your relationship to get physical, you explain that you aren’t comfortable with a sexual relationship so early on. The morning after, you realize that you were taken advantage of and that you did not give your consent to the sexual activity. You reach out to fellow students, maybe through social media, looking for an outlet to share your feelings. Instead of being met with warmth and praise for speaking out about the sexual assault, you experience what sexual assault victims are too often met with: victim blaming.

The issue of sexual assaults on college and university campuses has become a huge new stories in recent months, as it’s a problem that is clearly happening; but, otherwise wasn’t being spoken about.

The biggest issue faced by victims of sexual assault on campuses is the outdated, and sometimes non-existent, ways of supporting them when a sexual assault is reported. Some schools, such as the University of Toronto have had to investigate how reports had been handled when students come forward, because of how a report was handled.

According to a report released by the YWCA Canada, there are 460,000 sexual assaults in Canada every year.

UOIT is in the process of updating the 2010 Student Conduct Policy with a focus on victims rights, and has held workshops with students to get an idea of what students want to see in the update. The focus is to not have a victim become re victimized if they come forward, and to take the issues facing students today and have the procedures meet these issues.

By posting this, we are attempting to create an open forum for UOIT’s community. Are you aware of UOITs current policies? Do you know what would occur if you made a formal complaint against someone? Mostly important, what do you want to see UOIT do?

Feel free to start that conversation in the comments, or you are also welcome to come in and speak with us about this issue.

We want to hear from you.

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48 thoughts on “Sexual Assault on Campuses

  1. What do you want to see UOIT do? You need to let all survivors know that they did nothing wrong and they are not to blame. I learned that in counselling, months too late after going through unbearable pain and fighting suicidal thoughts everyday. We need a forum where we can safely online share our stories and feelings, and receive support from other survivors. Thank you robynnehenry for starting this conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. JeNNa, I created a forum and started a new discussion @kstar21 @lindsaysmith2015 @robynnehenry

        http://asafeplace.boards.net where we can continue a discussion anonymously

        I’ll post this message to each person that has commented thus far in all the comments, but feel free to share with whomever you want. I could only tag those that currently have a WP account.

        I hope this helps, especially for those looking to help in some way; I spent enough time thinking about this and after suggesting to others to create a group, I decided to do it myself and see what happens.

        Like

    1. It’s hard to talk about, but necessary… I don’t even like to think of myself as a survivor because that alone seems to painful. However, I can see how talking about it is taking steps forward in recovering.

      Like

  2. Every female member of my family is a victim of incest. For years I lived in shame and hated myself and my body. I found help and slowly rebuild my life. UOIT has to have a service available to support people like myself

    Like

    1. I’m sorry cleo. I admire your courage. Where did you get help from? Was it at uoit or elsewhere? Can you provide info? We can start by sharing the most helpful services to each other

      Like

      1. I got help through CAS as I was still a minor when my older sister decided to break the silence. Like T@mir19, I needed many therapists before the right one helped me with the breakthrough. It was at the York Region Abuse Program in Newmarket. It was free or CAS paid for it as my family did not have to. Me and my sister also got help York Region Victim Services. Both were great. I’m now also seeing a counsellor at UOIT and it’s been very helpful. They seem very comfortable working with me and believe that was not how I felt with many other therapists.
        T@mir’s story is close to mine, I feel that my family’s culture, religion and tradition also helped our abusers to take advantage of us for so long. We need to open safe and anonymous ways of females like me to get help. I can tell you that the first step was the hardest. Once you find a right person, either a professional or a friend or best both, things get easier. I used to blame myself, live in shame and pain. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is much easier and getting better.

        Like

        1. Thanks for sharing your story; it’s important. Perhaps a closed FB group for those that want to join and discuss further is a way to start reaching out?

          Like

    2. cleo, I created a forum and started a new discussion @kstar21 @lindsaysmith2015 @robynnehenry

      http://asafeplace.boards.net where we can continue a discussion anonymously

      I’ll post this message to each person that has commented thus far in all the comments, but feel free to share with whomever you want. I could only tag those that currently have a WP account.

      I hope this helps, especially for those looking to help in some way; I spent enough time thinking about this and after suggesting to others to create a group, I decided to do it myself and see what happens.

      Like

    1. vv1996, I created a forum and started a new discussion @kstar21 @lindsaysmith2015 @robynnehenry

      http://asafeplace.boards.net where we can continue a discussion anonymously

      I’ll post this message to each person that has commented thus far in all the comments, but feel free to share with whomever you want. I could only tag those that currently have a WP account.

      I hope this helps, especially for those looking to help in some way; I spent enough time thinking about this and after suggesting to others to create a group, I decided to do it myself and see what happens.

      Like

  3. I want to get involved. I want to be a helper. We need to stop sexual abuse everywhere. What can I do to be a part of the uoit system?

    Like

    1. Maybe start a closed FB group and invite peeps from UOIT community to join? I know this blog is a safe place, so you could post the link here? That’s just one thought… another one would be to start a support group on campus and my guess is that you could go through the normal administrative channels or talk to any staff on campus about getting started.

      Like

    2. Marushka19, I created a forum and started a new discussion @kstar21 @lindsaysmith2015 @robynnehenry

      http://asafeplace.boards.net where we can continue a discussion anonymously

      I’ll post this message to each person that has commented thus far in all the comments, but feel free to share with whomever you want. I could only tag those that currently have a WP account.

      I hope this helps, especially for those looking to help in some way; I spent enough time thinking about this and after suggesting to others to create a group, I decided to do it myself and see what happens.

      Like

  4. I am a male. Uoit student and would like to know if I can be of any help. There are many guys here who want to be respectful towards our female peers. We all need education, but guys who date rape, assault and sexually exploit others particularly need to be educated. Taking advantage of others is not cool. But taking advantage of others sexually really hurts people.

    Like

    1. You could create a Vlog and post it to social media – your opinion could go viral and others would then be positively influenced by your great example. I think just being a good role-model to others guys around you is a great way to show how you respect all your peers.

      Like

    2. VanGuard, I created a forum and started a new discussion @kstar21 @lindsaysmith2015 @robynnehenry

      http://asafeplace.boards.net where we can continue a discussion anonymously

      I’ll post this message to each person that has commented thus far in all the comments, but feel free to share with whomever you want. I could only tag those that currently have a WP account.

      I hope this helps, especially for those looking to help in some way; I spent enough time thinking about this and after suggesting to others to create a group, I decided to do it myself and see what happens.

      Like

  5. To all UOIT students: please share info about the places you received help from (at UOIT and elsewhere) following your sexual abuse. We need to support each other and can start by sharing it. Also tell us about how helpful it was, how difficult and how you decided to get help
    Thank you

    Like

    1. H2Happy, I don’t think that my experience is typical but here it is. I come from a culture where females are not respected, we need to be submissive and know our place: in a shadow of men. My abuser is my father’s best friend, my family’s friend who has always been treated as one of us, our ‘uncle’, I’ve known him all my life. Bill Cosby like, a charmer loved by everybody and hated by his victims, sleazy and arrogant. I don’t think my family would’ve believe me if I shared my story with them. He’d sexually abused me for two and a half years. Try to think of a 11 year old girl whose sexuality was ruined well before it developed and who felt that she couldn’t share her story with anybody and especially not with her family. He took my confidence, my innocence and my self esteem. I tried to tell my aunt once, but she only blamed and shamed me and did nothing to help. She more or less told me to stay quiet and made me feel like a slut. 11 year old slut who seduced a man three times her age! She still, to this day pretends that nothing happened. Why didn’t I go to the police, CAS, school counsellors? I was scared, ashamed, confused and hated my life and my body. I tried to cover my emerging female curves and made myself as unattractive as possible. What my girlfriends showed off I wanted to bury. I despised my female body and cut it and abused it in every possible way. I tried to kill myself, tried drugs, tried partying my pain away. My parents thought I was a typical rebelling teenager but never asked me what was really wrong. My aunt joined in the crowd of the ‘disappointed’. I felt so betrayed by her. I bounced between being over promiscuous and celibate. My sensuality was killed. I have never been able to feel sexual closeness. I want to. I don’t enjoy intimacy, but I understand that it is a central ingredient of any relationship, so I’ve complied. I clench my inside and go through it. It is dishonest to my boyfriend and I feel terrible about it. I want to experience intimacy like others do. I want to feel close to my boyfriend in all parts of our relationship. But I can’t.

      I have never thought that I’d be able to open up to anybody about my past, let alone to a male. My parents sent me to counselling many times through the high school. My counsellors told me that I was ‘mood disordered’ as nobody has so much pain for no reason (!!!!!!!!!!!!). They asked me about everything other than what was right there in front of them. I came to UOIT’s counselling last year. I couldn’t sleep and had difficulties studying and hoped to learn how to handle my stress better. I met with a counsellor there. 10 min into the appointment he asked to offer a suggestion. His exact words were: “can I ask for your permission to offer a suggestion’. That felt so different from my previous counselling experiences. I was intrigued and of course agreed. He suggested that I may struggle with an ‘unresolved trauma’. What? How? Where? I did not mention anything about my trauma, but all of a sudden I felt that I needed to tell him my story then and there. This one question: “can I ask for your permission to offer a suggestion” made me trust him. Sharing felt right and easy. He offered for a female counsellor to join us or meet with me on another day, but I HAD to share right then. I wanted him to know. I still don’t know why. It felt right. I spilled everything to him, intimate details and how I have suffered since. It felt like I was washing off dirt inch by inch. He never pushed me but told me that sharing THE story usually feels cathartic. I was ashamed to admit that I had no idea what ‘cathartic’ meant. I know now. Sharing it felt just like that, cathartic, I left the session feeling 100 pounds lighter. I’ve gone a long way since. I have a long way ahead me, but my life has changed since.

      Cleo, I feel like our experiences are similar. My abuser was not my blood relative but he is closer to my family than most of them. I encourage you to get help. Start with sharing your story with somebody who can understand and would not judge and blame.

      jeNNa, I agree, we need a forum to share and learn from each other. Whether it is this blog or any other forum, I want to help.

      H2Happy, my appointments with UOIT counsellor helped and changed my life. I commute from east TO. I don’t know of any services there.

      robynhenry , thank you for starting this tread

      VanGuard, we love guys like you

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for sharing T@mir19. I think that you and I belong to the same or a very similar culture. I totally understand how difficult if not impossible would it be to talk to your family about sexual assault or anything related to sex actually. After reading some of the posts here, I think that my abuser is my boyfriend who comes from the same culture as I and has a permission and blessing from my parents and my brothers to treat me like garbage and his property. I’d like to see discussions here that include experiences of females whose families are new to Canada or still going by their religious and traditional values. I see how my mom’s been treated and I don’t want that life for myself. My boyfriend is also a student at UOIT. He is as Candian as they come, but when it comes to treating females, he all of a sudden chooses to go by his heritage beliefs. It is convenient and empowering for him. His mother and my mother expect me to be his servant and be happy that he wants to go out with me. They already mapped out our future which includes me taking her of him and our children. My ambitions don’t count. I already am expected to be submissive and guess his needs, also sexual, and his happiness is my duty. We need a support group or something to change it. Please help.

        Like

        1. I’m glad you’ve reached out; it sounds like you are managing a lot on your own. Please know that the counsellors at Student Mental Health Services are available to meet with you to offer support and help you find ways to cope with the challenges you shared.

          A support system for women experiencing relationships like yours is a great idea! If you are open to sharing ideas you might have for putting a support system in place, please know that we would welcome the chance to get to know you and hear your thoughts. Please contact us at studentlifeline@uoit.ca or 905 721-3392.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. @robynnehenry, I created a forum and started a new discussion @kstar21 @lindsaysmith2015 @robynnehenry

            http://asafeplace.boards.net where we can continue a discussion anonymously

            I’ll post this message to each person that has commented thus far in all the comments, but feel free to share with whomever you want. I could only tag those that currently have a WP account.

            I hope this helps, especially for those looking to help in some way; I spent enough time thinking about this and after suggesting to others to create a group, I decided to do it myself and see what happens.

            Like

          1. Al-Uzza, I created a forum and started a new discussion @kstar21 @lindsaysmith2015 @robynnehenry
            http://asafeplace.boards.net where we can continue a discussion anonymously
            I’ll post this message to each person that has commented thus far in all the comments, but feel free to share with whomever you want. I could only tag those that currently have a WP account.
            I hope this helps, especially for those looking to help in some way; I spent enough time thinking about this and after suggesting to others to create a group, I decided to do it myself and see what happens.

            Like

          2. I have lived a life of embarrassment, fear and humiliation because of this one night which I’ll never be able to take back. I found peace reading yor stories. I learned a lot and it feels like I am not alone. It feels like a community of friends with one common bond.

            Like

        2. Anonymous, I created a forum and started a new discussion @kstar21 @lindsaysmith2015 @robynnehenry

          http://asafeplace.boards.net where we can continue a discussion anonymously

          I’ll post this message to each person that has commented thus far in all the comments, but feel free to share with whomever you want. I could only tag those that currently have a WP account.

          I hope this helps, especially for those looking to help in some way; I spent enough time thinking about this and after suggesting to others to create a group, I decided to do it myself and see what happens.

          Like

      2. thanks for sharing your story, who knows how many more people will seek help and safety because of what you disclosed. You are bringing hope to others.

        Like

      3. T@mir19, I created a forum and started a new discussion @kstar21 @lindsaysmith2015 @robynnehenry

        http://asafeplace.boards.net where we can continue a discussion anonymously

        I’ll post this message to each person that has commented thus far in all the comments, but feel free to share with whomever you want. I could only tag those that currently have a WP account.

        I hope this helps, especially for those looking to help in some way; I spent enough time thinking about this and after suggesting to others to create a group, I decided to do it myself and see what happens.

        Like

      1. Services in Brampton:
        >>>>Assaulted Women’s Helpline at 1-866-863 0511

        >>>>HOPE24/7 – 10 GILLINGHAM DRIVE, SUITE 305 BRAMPTON, ON L6X 5A5 Tel: (905) 792-0821
        FREE CRISIS SERVICES INCLUDE:
        • Crisis line and online chat
        • In-person 1-on-1 and Family Psychotherapy
        • Therapeutic Groups
        • Psychoeducational Workshops
        • Access to a regulated health professional

        >>>>> Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Services – 905-848-7689

        Like

        1. Also, to anybody still reading comments… please know that services similar to the ones mentioned are available in almost every city… I haven’t personally checked, but if you spend some time searching on Google, I’d be surprised if you cannot find anything. In the very least, connecting with counsellors at UOIT will get you pointed in the right direction (it’s like their job to do that lol).

          Also, having done my own searching in my own city… I can say that the Google-ing session alone was empowering and motivated me to find more help because I felt like I could help myself by seeking out help; such a small thing, but made a difference.

          Like

    2. H2Happy, I created a forum and started a new discussion @kstar21 @lindsaysmith2015 @robynnehenry

      http://asafeplace.boards.net where we can continue a discussion anonymously

      I’ll post this message to each person that has commented thus far in all the comments, but feel free to share with whomever you want. I could only tag those that currently have a WP account.

      I hope this helps, especially for those looking to help in some way; I spent enough time thinking about this and after suggesting to others to create a group, I decided to do it myself and see what happens.

      Like

  6. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences and for bringing attention to such an important issue. We in Student Mental Health Services are hopeful that your comments will start people talking about sexual violence and will highlight the damage that results from it. Your willingness to help and to get involved is really encouraging and we’re excited to share with you that UOIT is planning an initiative to spread awareness and educate others about sexual assault and harrassment starting in September. Our hope is to gain a commitment from the UOIT community to work together to put an end to sexual violence and harrassment. Through the campaign there will be many opportunities to get involved and demonstrate your commitment. As September approaches and the campaign gears up, we will share more info on this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Guys, phone Lindsay every day and ask her about when the campaign is starting! She really loves to connect with students as she gets quite bored at her desk 😉 If she doesn’t answer, leave at least 3 voicemail messages lol

      Like

  7. Good reading published by The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues on Jan 14, 2015 in Sound Science, Sound Policy

    Ten Things You Need to Know about Campus Sexual Assault by Jacquelyn White:

    1. Campus sexual assault is common—much more common than many people imagine. Estimates of the number of women assaulted on campus have been remarkably consistent over time, beginning with a survey by Eugene Kanin (link is external) in 1957, through recent surveys by Mary Koss (link is external) and colleagues in 1987, Humphrey and White (link is external) in 2000, Lawyer (link is external) and colleagues in 2010, and Parks, (link is external) et al in 2014. These surveys regularly show that some 15 to 20 percent of college women report rape or attempted rape during their college career, and that over 50 percent report experiencing some form of unwanted sexual contact.

    2. Sexual assault victims are at increased risk of anxiety, depression, PTSD and substance abuse, as well as various physical health problems such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances and gynecological and reproductive health problems (Sabina & Ho (link is external), 2014; Martin (link is external), et al 2011).

    3. Being sexually assaulted undermines victimized women’s perceptions of the academic climate (Cortina, (link is external) Swan, S., Fitzgerald & Waldo, 998), as well as the perception of and actual decreases in academic performance and grades (van Roosmalen (link is external) & McDaniel, 1998; Jordan (link is external), Combs, & Smith, 2014). According to the AAUP Report on Campus Sexual Assault (link is external), the academic consequences of sexual assault include significant declines in academic achievement; an impaired ability to carry a normal course load; an increased frequency of missing classes; a reduced capacity to contribute to the campus community; and an increased likelihood of dropping courses, leaving school, or transferring.

    4. Sexual assaults undermine a university’s educational mission by creating an unsafe and inhospitable learning environment; reflecting negatively on campus leaders’ commitment to end campus violence; bringing scandal to the institution and its leaders; creating distrust among parents and alumni; and damaging an institution’s standing in the community (AAUP report (link is external)).

    5. Victims of sexual assault are unlikely to report their experiences. When they do disclose, they are more likely to do so to friends or family than to the police. Studies have found that college women almost never report rape to the police, with studies finding rates from zero percent for sexual coercion and date rape (Edwards, (link is external) et al, 2012), to about 13 percent for forced sexual assault (Krebs (link is external), et al, 2009). On the other hand, some 41 percent or more disclose their attack to family or friends.

    Why are these numbers so low? Many women feel that reporting their rape can itself be humiliating, and worry that it may result in their being ostracized and retaliated against. They worry that they will participate in a process that often reprises the very loss of autonomy and decision-making that they suffered during their attack. And they fear, often correctly, that the resulting investigation will be confusing, invasive, and re-traumatizing—not to mention futile (Ullman (link is external)). The skepticism with which their reports are often met can result in a secondary form of victimization, when the very institutions that are supposed to support and protect them fail (Smith & Freyd (link is external), 2014).

    6. Studies consistently find that about 25 percent of college men report having committed some form of sexual aggression, with some 10 percent admitting to behaviors that meet the legal definition of rape (Nyguen & Parkhill (link is external), 2014 for a review; White & Smith (link is external), 2009). Risk factors for perpetrating sexual assault include childhood victimization and exposure to domestic violence. Other possible factors include hostile attitudes towards women, questionable motives for sex (such as just wanting to “score” or vent anger and hostility) and peer group values (Knight & Sims-Knight (link is external), 2011). Nevertheless it is difficult to predict which men may become sexually aggressive and when, or which men may offend only once, while others engage in repeat offenses (Swartout, et al, 2015; Thompson (link is external), et al, 2013).

    7. Alcohol does not cause sexual assault. Alcohol may fuel the intent of those with a propensity to commit a sexual offense, but alcohol use should be seen for what it is: an excuse to blame the victim and excuse the perpetrator (Abbey (link is external), 2011).

    8. There is a difference between rape deterrence and rape prevention. Deterrence efforts focus on warning women about how to avoid being a victim. Such advice, which may help reduce a woman’s chances of being sexually assaulted, does nothing to prevent the perpetrator from seeking out another target–or reducing the overall incidence of assault. True prevention must focus on changing the attitudes and behaviors of potential perpetrators (Paul & Gray (link is external), 2011). Many colleges have recently initiated large-group, norm-based prevention efforts focused on men’s motivations for sexual assault. We do not yet have solid data on how useful these programs are. Men who do not see themselves as rapists, but who might be tempted to use manipulation or force to have sex with women, may benefit from such an approach. Men motivated by negative, hostile affect toward women may not (Edwards, (link is external) et al, 2014).

    9. Sexual assault is a huge financial burden on society, with the total tangible costs estimated at $87,000 per assault, for a total of $127 billion annually (Miller (link is external) et al, 1996). Yale law student Alexandra Brodsky (link is external) conservatively calculated the cost of sexual violence to the students of each national graduating college class at nearly $2 billion.

    10. Not all women are equally vulnerable to sexual coercion and rape. It’s important to remember that as bad as rape on campus is, the problem is even worse for marginalized women, women of color, women with disabilities, women in rural areas, and women who are elderly (Rennison

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you to whoever created this site, I need to say something. It sounds stupid, but I kinda thought that real people were never raped; they were always fictional characters in movies and books……….Well…….I was raped. I was raped by a fellow student. I guess I just needed to share that. I know it was not my fault even though I did many stupid things that night. I will never forget what happened. I blame myself for not taking better care and for trusting him. I blame him for what he did to me and for what he took from me. I never told anybody. I don’t even care if he gets punished. I am already serving a life sentence for what happen to me and him going to jail won’t help feeling that way. I only wish I could go back, maybe done something different. I can tell you that reading other stories here and decided to share mine has helped. I feel better.

    Thanks for reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for bravely sharing your story… that’s more than I can say about myself. I am glad that you found a bit of relief in talking about your rape. Did I say that you’re really brave, ’cause you are! 🙂 I hope that a day will come when you no longer feel that you’re “serving a life sentence…”, but rather you can find peace and joy. I find that sharing via text is way easier for challenging topics, which is why I think so many have responded, however I think it is more stressful to talk to a person face-to-face about sexual assault, but not impossible and very do-able… I encourage you to try that if you feel comfortable – especially if you’re a student at UOIT, as the counsellors there are amazing people and you’ll be better for meeting and getting to know them.

      Like

    2. Anonymous, I created a forum and started a new discussion @kstar21 @lindsaysmith2015 @robynnehenry
      http://asafeplace.boards.net where we can continue a discussion anonymously
      I’ll post this message to each person that has commented thus far in all the comments, but feel free to share with whomever you want. I could only tag those that currently have a WP account.
      I hope this helps, especially for those looking to help in some way; I spent enough time thinking about this and after suggesting to others to create a group, I decided to do it myself and see what happens.

      Like

  9. @lindsaysmith2015, I created a forum and started a new discussion @kstar21 @lindsaysmith2015 @robynnehenry
    http://asafeplace.boards.net where we can continue a discussion anonymously
    I’ll post this message to each person that has commented thus far in all the comments, but feel free to share with whomever you want. I could only tag those that currently have a WP account.
    I hope this helps, especially for those looking to help in some way; I spent enough time thinking about this and after suggesting to others to create a group, I decided to do it myself and see what happens.

    Like

    1. T@amir19, this site is safe and I’m not worried about posting here at all… I was trying to create an online space specific to discussing sexual assault on a forum, where the format is easier to facilitate discussions (vs. the comment section of a specific blog post). I was trying to help, as some people mentioned in their comments that they’d like an additional safe place to share. Discussing things here is obviously cool too and feel free to post wherever you feel comfortable 🙂

      Like

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