Frequently Asked Questions
1. What type of support does the Centre provide?
People affected by sexual violence deserve a welcoming, safe, and confidential space where they can talk to caring professionals and learn about their options.
The Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre provides:
- Emotional support & connection to counselling
- Coordination of academic, workplace, and financial accommodations
- Support & assistance connecting with resources, including medical, legal, and housing services
- Advocacy for and connection with supports within and outside the University
- Safety planning (with the support of the Community Safety Office)
- Assistance with navigating institutional, judicial, and medical systems
- Information about reporting options and assistance making a report, if survivors choose to make one
- Educational initiatives, workshops and training, awareness campaigns, and programming for survivors
- Consultation for members of the University who receive a disclosure or have a concern related to sexual violence
Watch our introduction video to learn more about how we support the University of Toronto community, what to expect when you reach out, and how to contact us.
2. Who does the Centre support?
Our Centre is available to current students, staff, faculty, and librarians at the University of Toronto. People from all gender identities, expressions, and sexualities have access to our services, and will be welcomed by our highly skilled and compassionate team.
We are here to support you if you have experienced, heard about, witnessed, or are supporting someone affected by sexual assault, sexual harassment, or other forms of sexualized violence. We also provide education and training for individuals interested in learning how to support survivors of sexualized violence and build a culture of consent.
We know that healing from sexual violence is not linear, and that its impacts can be felt years later and activated at any time. We are available to provide guidance, healing resources, and support whenever someone may want it. Our support is available regardless of when or where sexual violence occurred and regardless of whether it involved a member of the University community.
Alumni who would like to disclose or report an experience of sexual violence related to their time at the University can also contact us to share their experience, learn about their options, and be provided with information on community resources.
Under the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment the University can provide a Respondent with a support person and supportive resources. However, this support person is not a staff member of the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre.
3. What can I expect if I reach out to the Centre?
We will believe you.
When you access services from the Centre you will receive a non-judgmental, confidential, and supportive environment that honours strengths and personal agency, allowing you to openly talk about your concerns and feelings. We will work with you to ensure you are connected to the information, support, and resources that suit your individual needs.
We understand that dealing with the impacts of sexual violence is not easy. You are not alone.
4. How can I speak with someone at the Centre?
You can reach out to us any time by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (1‑416‑978‑2266).
Our team is available to respond from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday. If you call during a time when we are away from the phone, busy on another call, or after hours, you will be asked to leave a voicemail.
When leaving us a voicemail, you do not need to provide many details. We need your first name, a number where we can reach you, and a preferred time for us to call you. We also need to know whether we can leave you a voicemail if you do not answer our call. We recognize that not all voicemails are private. If we do not have your explicit permission to leave a voicemail, we will not leave one. We will call you back at another time.
5. How long does it take for the Centre to respond?
Generally, if we receive your call or e-mail during our operating hours, we will respond back the same day. We have a commitment to respond to all requests within two business days.
We do not have a wait list for appointments. We will request your availability and offer you the next available appointment. If there is no appointment available during the times you provided, we will work with you to find an alternative time.
6. What information do I need to share to receive support from the Centre?
You are in control. You choose how much information to share with us about an experience of sexual violence. We are here to listen compassionately and provide you with helpful information about resources and options—so you can decide what to do next.
We ask that all clients complete an intake form and sign our service agreement. If you have any questions about these forms, please ask us for clarity before you fill them out. It is important that you understand them fully.
Please note that you are not required to report before receiving any support from us. As well, making an appointment with us does not automatically initiate a report to the University or the police. The decision to formally report is within your control. We will only take the next steps with your explicit permission.
7. Will the Centre keep what I tell them confidential?
We know that disclosing an experience of sexual violence is deeply personal and you may feel vulnerable and exposed. At the start of an appointment with us, we will explain our confidentiality and privacy commitments and answer any questions you may have about them. You can then make an informed decision around what information you choose to share with us.
We may be required to disclose information you have shared with us in certain specific situations.
You can read our statement on confidentiality and privacy to learn more.
Any University staff who need to receive information about you are bound by all applicable University policies, guidelines, and legal requirements, including the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
8. Who works at the Centre?
We currently have a team of eleven. Of these, seven members provide direct support to U of T students, staff, faculty, and librarians on all three campuses.
Our team has extensive experience in directly supporting survivors of sexualized violence and prevention work. Collectively, it spans a wide range of activities, from community-based case management, research, and policy-making to training, support services, and academic administration. Our staff have graduate degrees in relevant disciplines, such as sociology and social work and have previously worked for community based anti- sexual and gender-based violence organizations.
We deeply care about our clients and this work. We are committed to applying equity, diversity, inclusion, and trauma-informed practices in all work. Regardless of their role, all members of our team are dedicated to ongoing learning about trauma, sexual and gender-based violence, and how to apply inclusive, anti-colonial and anti-oppressive principles to our work.
9. What does a “trauma-informed, survivor-centred, and anti-oppressive approach” mean?
Our services are trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, and survivor-centred. In general, this means that we view our clients as experts in their own lives. This means we work in partnership with survivors of sexual violence, taking their lead in supporting them and exploring what sort of information or resolution they may be seeking.
It also means we recognize that sexual violence is linked to power, control, and systems of oppression, and that there are inherent power dynamics with our conversations at the Centre as well as within the University context more generally. We will work to identify and dismantle these power imbalances. We will strive to foster a safe environment where survivors feel empowered and are aware of their rights and their options.
Should you choose to access the Centre, it is important to know:
- You can share as little or as much as you like
- You will direct the conversation
- You can speak to us without any pressure to make a report
- You decide what support, resources, and reporting options you would like to engage, if any; and
- Your engagement is voluntary, and your consent is respected
10. Can I access the Centre 24/7?
Dealing with the impacts of sexual violence is not easy and it is important to know you are not alone. We will work with you to ensure you are connected to the information, support, and resources that suit your individual needs.
Please note that we are not a crisis service and are not accessible 24/7. We provide support and referrals to members of the U of T community during regular business hours.
If you need more immediate support, you can reach Campus Safety by calling 416‑978‑2222, or contact the following 24/7 community support services:
- U of T Telus Health Student Support
- Good 2 Talk: 1-866-925-5454
- Toronto Rape Crisis Centre Multicultural Women Against Rape: 416-597-8808
- 24h crisis line for male sexual abuse survivors:1-866-887-0015
- Assaulted Women’s 24h Helpline: 416-863-0511
- Trans Lifeline (by and for trans people): 1-877-330-6366
- Employee and Family Assistance Plan: 1-800-663-1142
11. How can the Centre support me fully when it is a part of the same institution as the person that harmed me?
Your safety and well-being are our priority, and your agency and privacy matter deeply to us.
We understand that our service may not be right for every survivor, and that there are limits to the type of support we can provide. We can help facilitate a connection to community resources. A list of University and external resources can also be found on our website.
The Centre does not provide support to Respondents under the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. A Respondent is someone who is disclosed or reported to have committed sexual violence. The University provides a Respondent with supportive resources and a designated support person who does not work at the Centre.
12. How can I provide feedback on my experience with the Centre?
We welcome feedback from the U of T community. We want to hear what’s working and how we can do better. A feedback form is available on our website.
You can provide anonymous feedback through this form or choose to identify yourself and request that the Director, Sexual Violence Prevention and Support contact you about your feedback. Please note that all responses to our feedback form are shared directly with the Director, Sexual Violence Prevention and Support.
We also encourage open and honest communication between you and your Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator. If at any time you have any questions or concerns about the Centre’s services, you can discuss them with your Coordinator during your appointments. If you prefer not to discuss them with your Coordinator, you can request to speak with the Assistant Director or Director.
13. What is the Centre’s role in the reporting process under the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment?
We support members of the University community who consider reporting an experience of sexual violence to the University or to local police authorities. We can explain the options and processes available so that individuals can make informed decisions.
The Centre’s role focuses on supporting the person who makes a report. This can look like accompanying them to meetings, supporting with accommodations, providing emotional support, and helping to clarify parts of the process.
Once a Report under the Policy is filed with us, with the consent of the person making the report, the Centre will submit it to the Office of Safety and High Risk for the next steps in the reporting process. The Office of Safety and High Risk is not part of the SVPS Centre. The Office of Safety and High Risk will assess the Report to determine whether the matter falls within the scope of the Policy, and coordinate any next steps, such as an investigation.
14. What is the Centre doing to invest in violence prevention and culture-change — not just violence response or other reactionary measures?
Strong, collaborative policies on violence and harassment are an important part of addressing sexual violence on campus, but we must also work towards a culture-change that validates and strengthens healthy relationships; insists upon positive, enthusiastic, continuous consent as a part of all interpersonal interactions; and recognizes the intersectional nature of sexual violence with racism, ableism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination.
With this in mind, the Centre is deeply invested in educational initiatives that work towards the creation of a culture of consent on campus. This violence prevention work is done primarily through workshops, trainings, and campaigns on sexual health education, how to practice meaningful consent, healthy relationships skills, healing resources for survivors, radical self-care, trauma-informed approaches to disclosure responses, and more.
More information about our upcoming programming is available on our website, and individualized trainings are available by request for any department, student club, or other U of T community group. You can also request a training.
Skip to a question:
- What type of support does the Centre provide?
- Who does the Centre support?
- What can I expect if I reach out to the Centre?
- How can I speak with someone at the Centre?
- How long does it take for the Centre to respond?
- What information do I need to share to receive support from the Centre?
- Will the Centre keep what I tell them confidential?
- Who works at the Centre?
- What does a “trauma-informed, survivor-centred, and anti-oppressive approach” mean?
- Can I access the Centre 24/7?
- How can the Centre support me fully when it is a part of the same institution as the person that harmed me?
- How can I provide feedback on my experience with the Centre?
- What is the Centre’s role in the reporting process under the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment?
- What is the Centre doing to invest in violence prevention and culture-change — not just violence response or other reactionary measures?
Please reach out if you have any additional questions. Contact us