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How to Support a Survivor/Victim of Gender-Based and Sexual Violence

Anyone at Western may receive a disclosure about sexual violence. Under Western’s updated Gender-Based and Sexual Violence Policy and its Procedures, Staff, Faculty, and Student Leaders who receive a disclosure from a Western student of gender-based & sexual violence must complete the Gender-based & Sexual Violence Disclosure Form. This form is sent to the Gender-based Violence & Survivor Support Case Manager who will reach out with resources, options and support. For more information on this process please visit our Disclosure page.

The assistance that you will be able to provide to a survivor/victim of gender-based and sexual violence will depend on the nature, timing, and ongoing effects of the incident(s).

If you receive a disclosure in the immediate time period following an assault (within approximately 72 hours of the incident):

  • Help the individual find a safe environment.
  • Inform the individual about options for medical attention. Even if there are no apparent injuries, there may be internal injuries. In London, immediate care and counselling support is available at the Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program, located at St. Joseph’s Hospital (go to Urgent Care). Support is provided regardless of gender. The Centre will provide support to the survivor/victim in making choices and understanding options. Options include treatment of injuries, emotional support and crisis intervention, pregnancy prevention, the testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infection, safety planning and referrals.
  • Inform the individual about preserving evidence. At the Regional Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Treatment Program, the survivor/victim will be provided the option of collecting forensic (physical) evidence. The survivor/victim may choose to use this evidence later on or not at all. Survivors/victims have the most options available to them within the first 72 hours (3 days) following a sexual assault however certain evidence can be collected up to 12 days after the sexual assault.

If a survivor of gender-based and sexual violence turns to you for support

  • Believe the survivor. It is not your role to question whether the violence occurred.
  • The survivor is not to blame. No one deserves to be a victim of sexual violence no matter what the circumstances. Even if the survivor feels responsible, say clearly, “It was not your fault”.
  • Help the survivor explore options. You may use the resources listed on this website. You may accompany the survivor to any resources they wish to go to, as a support person. Give the survivor the freedom to choose the services that they feel will be most beneficial and supportive. Support the survivor’s choices, even if you would make different choices.
  • Avoid any re-victimization. A survivor is capable of taking care of themselves. Allow the survivor to maintain control unless you are given permission or requested to assist. Resist passing judgment about how the survivor has handled the situation. Do not ask questions out of curiosity. Do not make excuses for the perpetrator’s actions.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or make a referral. Be aware of the limits of your own abilities and boundaries in supporting a survivor. Several resources are listed here and you are encouraged to share these resources with the survivor or access them for your own support. If you are not sure what to do next or where to call, you may call Human Rights Office for assistance. The Human Rights Office can help direct you (either as survivor/victim or a support person) to resources for academic and workplace accommodations, changes to living arrangements in residence, and other emotional and health supports and resources.

If you learn that an individual is being harassed

  • Believe the individual. Do not question their experience or make excuses for the other person’s behaviour.
  • Encourage the individual to document incidents and keep evidence. Dates, times, locations, specifics about what happened, witnesses, copies of emails and texts, phone logs, etc.
  • Refer the individual to the Human Rights Office. You should also contact the Human Rights Office to discuss the incident and attain advice, particularly if you are in an administrative or academic role.

Material adapted from Georgia Tech’s VOICE Initiative –

Reporting an Incident of Sexual Violence

More information on reporting an incident of sexual violence.

Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program
Staffed 24/7, St. Joseph’s Hospital, London (directions)
519 646-6100 ext 64224

Western Special Constable Services
Lawson Hall, Rm. 1257 (24/7)
From a campus phone: call 911 or x83300 (non-emergency line)
From a cell phone: call 519-661-3300
*For reports of gender-based violence, WSCS will connect you with the local police service.

Gender-Based Violence & Survivor Support Case Manager
519 661-3568

Anova (formerly Sexual Assault Centre of London)
24 hour crisis & support line: 
519 642-3000

CMHA Crisis Centre & Reach Out
24/7 Crisis and Support Services
In person: 648 Huron St, London (directions)
Phone: 519 433-2023

Human Rights Office
519 661-3334 (non-emergencies only)

Residence Counselling
Ontario Hall, Room 3C10 

Independent Legal Advice for Sexual Assault Survivors
Survivors of sexual assault may be eligible for up to four hours of free, confidential legal advice.

Indigenous Wellness Counsellor

Zhwwanong 24 Hr Emergency Women's Shelter for First Nations women and their children
256 Hill St, London, Ontario
Phone: 1-800-605-7477

Trans Lifeline: