Across the country, thousands of students are heading off to university, many for the first time. It’s an exciting time, meeting new people, discovery and learning. It’s also the beginning of a period of eight weeks where the most sexual violence occurs on Canadian campuses.
More than 80% of rapes that occur on college and university campuses are perpetrated by someone known to the victim. And although, Canadian Universities are not obligated to record or make public instances of sexual violence that are reported to them.
Many schools have taken notice of this phenomenon, and many are taking action and implementing sexual assault trainings early on in students’ orientation in order to make them aware of the dangers they face throughout college, but particularly in the first few weeks of school. In 2017, we provided consent training to Douglas College task force made up of faculty and students specifically to support survivors of sexual violence. Since 2017, all universities and colleges in B.C. are legally required to have sexual violence and misconduct policies, and to make them publicly available.
While there’s much more awareness about campus sexual assault than there used to be, the facts can still feel overwhelming. One in five reported cases of sexual assault occurs in an intimate relationship. Moreover, being young and female is a risk factor for sexual assault. Young women (15-24) experiences the highest rates of sexual violence, almost double the rate of sexual violence against women aged 25-34. Young women also have the highest rates of being stalked –usually by someone they know (two-thirds of cases).
Change won’t happen until there is a significant cultural shift that moves the responsibility of sexual assault off of the shoulders of victims/survivors, and onto the the perpetrators. So we continue to bring attention and awareness to the issue to increase open and honest discussions about the problem and provide training and education to schools and the community.
- Statistics Canada. Gender Differences in Police-reported Violent Crime in Canada, 2008. 2010
- Statistics Canada. Measuring violence against women: Statistical trends. 2013.
- Johnson. H. (2006). Measuring Violence against Women: Statistical Trends 2006. Statistics Canada catalogue no. 85-570-XWE. Ottawa. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/85-570-XIE/85-570-XIE2006001.htm
- Department of Justice Canada. Factsheet on Dating Violence. 2003.