Supporting survivors without judgment

New online tool teaches people how to respond to sexual violence disclosures

The Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women & Children (CREVAWC) has released an online training tool for responding to sexual violence disclosures at universities and colleges. 

The modules within the training include scripted scenarios with actors who tell their stories as survivors of sexual violence.

These dialogues were revised and developed by experts from six universities and three colleges, including George Brown College (GBC), along with survivors of on-campus sexual violence. 

Students across Ontario were consulted and joined an advisory committee which participated in focus groups and online discussions.

“We wanted to make sure that we had representatives of both students and people that they were disclosing to,” said Mandy Bonisteel, a community services & health sciences professor at GBC, who was a curriculum designer for the training.

The training includes constructive ways to respond to disclosures in a way that makes the survivor feel heard and accepted.

When people disclose a sexual violence experience, the reaction to the disclosure can greatly affect the likelihood of the survivor reaching out for more support.

An unsupportive response can re-victimize the survivor and make them feel blamed for not seeking help sooner.

“Even though unwanted flirting may not seem very serious at first, which is why so few women report it, it’s still harassment and it has to stop,” is an example of a supportive response to a scenario in one of the modules.

Over 450 people have completed the training as of March 9.

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Supporting survivors without judgment