BY GABRIELLE ESTEVES
One in five women are sexually assaulted at one point during their life.
According to the Canadian Department of Justice, young people aged 15-24 have the highest chance of being sexually assaulted. The average post-secondary student is between the ages of 17-27.
An investigation by the CBC found that between 2009-2013, there were over 700 reported sexual assaults on Canadian college and university campuses. However, there is also evidence to suggest that the number of assaults could be much higher as so few get reported on campuses in comparison to assaults overall.
Up until November 2015, colleges and universities didn’t have to publicly report incidents of sexual assault. The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario says that “as of November 2014, only nine out of 102 Canadian colleges and universities had sexual assault policies.” Sheridan is one of those schools.
Sheridan’s sexual assault policy states, “If it’s not a clear yes, it’s not consent.” Sheridan offers on and off campus support for anyone who’s experienced or has witnessed sexual assault. You can also file a formal complaint.
Sheridan has had a number of sexual assault cases on their campuses. At the time of this deadline, a representative from Sheridan College had not provided an exact number.
Tammy Datars, the manager of the Sheridan health clinics, says if you are sexually assaulted, staff is there to help.
“Whether you went to the health clinic or the counsellors, you would be asked if there was any physical injuries so that they would then refer you to a physician if you needed to be. We may also refer you to a sexual assault nurse. They can do sexual STD testing and treatment for you right away. They can also set you up with plan B and birth control right away.”
Datars also said that physicians and nurses can set you up with counselling.
A representative from SACHA, a sexual assault help line based in Hamilton, who chose not to be named, says that sexual assault survivors should do what they feel is best for themselves: “Coming forward brings a lot of stigma, they bring a lot of shame. Coming forward also means that you accept that something happened and some folks may not be ready to accept that this happened to them or want to think that it happened.”
She added, “Often times we know that survivors aren’t believed by family members. They aren’t believed by friends, and they’re not believed by social services in the community including the police. That makes it very difficult and makes a barrier to coming forward or to disclosing that they are survivors of sexual violence.”
Rainn.com says that college women are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed. More than 50% of campus sexual assaults happen during the first few months of each semester: September, October, November, January, and February are the most vulnerable months.
Sheridan’s Student Union offers a program called SafeWalk. The program provides students with two members of the SafeWalk team to help them walk across campus at night.
To use SafeWalk the only thing Sheridan students need is a valid OneCard to be shown when you meet the team, and to download the Sheridan Alert app.
SafeWalk is available Monday-Fridays from 6pm to midnight and 6pm to 2am on pub nights.