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African Female

You just tend to keep quiet about it

Participant 1: Okay, so I think from our region, what I would say is that the patriarchal system in West Africa doesn't allow for things like that [sharing your story]. One, you feel like you are embarassing your family, embarassing your friends, so you just tend to just keep quiet about it. As you have not been physically hurt, no one cares. And also, when you say something like that [disclose your assault], the few people that are going to come out to say things after are usually attacked by the male system. They are asked, "Oh, what were you doing there?"
Participants together: "What were you wearing?"
Participant 2: "Are you sure it is not a mistake? Are you sure you didn't want it? Are you sure you didn't make this up?"
Participant 3: So basically, I have a different opinion- I'm looking at it from another angle. So basically, we know that back in West Africa, you don't want to talk because they would probably blame you. [...] But I feel like if you are in a society like Canada, another reason why you might keep quiet is because of how seriously they would take it.
Participant 2: Yes!
Participant 3: I know that sounds weird, but you just want to be quiet, because you know that they would take it too seriously, and you don't want that. You just want to live a normal life, do whatever you are here to do, you know? And just to be happy. So you prefer to keep quiet, because of how seriously they would take it. You don't want the publicity that comes with it. People would know you, and then people would start treating you as a victim.


  • Use an app or other tool that allows students to anonymously ask questions about sexual violence and university policies against sexual violence.

  • Ensure all sexual violence prevention and response education and training opportunities actively deconstruct victim-blaming, rape myths and gender norms. Ensure these sessions take an intersectional approach to understanding sexual violence and supporting victim/survivors.

  • 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.

  • In the policy itself and in materials and presentations promoting the policy, define "confidential" and "anonymous," and explain how these concepts pertain to the policy, university-based sexual assault services, and the limits on confidentiality and anonymity.