What does “complainant” mean?
- The word “complainant” is sometimes used instead of “victim” or “survivor” in legal or policy contexts. For example, the word “complainant” may appear in investigations conducted under university SV/SA policies, police investigations, or trials.
- Where this word appears in university sexual assault policies, it applies to the person who files a report for investigation about a sexual assault.
What is the difference between a “complainant” and a “victim/survivor”?
- The word “complainant” can be perceived as more neutral than “victim” or “survivor,” as it does not assume that a report of sexual assault is true or false. This word works well in legal contexts where procedural fairness is required.
- The words “victim” or “survivor” are used to describe a person who has experienced sexual assault. These words:
- Emphasize believing the person who tells you about a sexual assault they have experienced
- Work well for service providers and other members of the community providing supports for people who have experienced sexual assault
- It is best to use the term that the person who has experienced sexual violence prefers.
- For more information, see our definition of “victim/survivor.”