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Communicating all available avenues

Emphasize the victim's right to decide whether they would like to report the incident after they have disclosed it to the university. Ensure the victim is aware of the formal and informal routes for reporting, including the option of reporting to the police. Clearly communicate any limits to confidentiality.

Participants in our study were interested in knowing about all the possible avenues available to victims/survivors following a sexual assault and appreciated the opportunity to learn about these avenues during focus groups. However, students also worried that they would lose control over their information or over the direction that would be taken by university representatives in handling their situations. For example, some students worried that authorities would automatically escalate their disclosures into reports regardless of their wishes. For these reasons, it is important for students to know about the processes available and the degree to which victims/survivors have control over these precesses.

Delving Deeper Resources

  • Full Disclosure: Implications for Individuals who Disclose Sexual Violence in the University Context (Root & Lunn 2019)
    In the VAW Network webinar Full Disclosure: Implications for Individuals who Disclose Sexual Violence in the University Context, Root & Lunn (2019) explore "the hidden contexts and potential harm for folks who engage with university sexual assault policies in Ontario." As part of their discussion, the authors explore how survivors' expectations of confidentiality may be disappointed due to lack of clarity in their university sexual volence policies.