According to a Statistics Canada report released in 2022 based on 2018 data, 15 per cent of people suffering from “mental health-related disabilities” were victims of sexual violence at some point throughout the previous year. This far exceeds the six per cent for those with non-mental health-imposed disabilities and five per cent for those without disabilities.
However, as victims of sexual violence are more likely to have existing mental health conditions worsen, these statistics become part of a never-ending cycle.
At U of T, sexual violence prevention is valued highly. With reports of sexual harassment appearing on campus, U of T has been finding ways to end such harassment and keep its students safe during their studies at the institution.
This August, U of T launched its online sexual violence education and prevention training modules, which are intended to educate the institution’s students on what consent and sexual violence are. Furthermore, the module discusses how students can set healthy boundaries and determine safe practices in relationships. The module then provides examples of situations in which sexual violence may occur.
Interested students may enroll for the module via Quercus by selecting the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Course card found within a student’s dashboard.
Being targeted by sexual violence can have lasting effects on individuals throughout their lives, which may make it difficult to speak out. U of T has virtual groups that allow survivors to come together to share their experiences. Notably, Healing Hearts is a group for survivors to gather and heal through their experiences as a community. This group meets monthly from September 28, 2023 to November 21, 2023.
U of T further encourages students to reach out to the Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre (SVPS Centre) to ensure that students have access to the resources they need. The SVPS Centre has a location on each U of T campus and provides a safe place for students, staff, and faculty who have faced sexual violence or harassment to access resources like counselling, medical services, various accommodations, and legal help. Additionally, the SVPS Centre provides training and workshops for those who would like to learn about how we can prevent sexual violence as a community.
There are various initiatives and resources at U of T to recognize sexual violence survivors and aid them in speaking up about their experiences. Survivors are encouraged to seek help both within and outside of the institution and seek community with other understanding individuals.