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Get help with responding to sexual violence disclosures

Faculty and staff workshops offer training and education

February 20, 2019 — 

Do you know how you would respond if a friend, coworker or student disclosed an incident of sexual violence?

If you are unsure, you are not alone, says Arlana Vadnais, employee wellness specialist at the U of M. That is why the Responding to Sexual Violence Disclosures workshops were created for staff and faculty.

“People may feel unsure of how to respond when finding out about an incident of sexual violence, and as a result, may unintentionally not be as helpful or supportive as the person disclosing needs,” says Vadnais.

“This workshop is offered with the intent of building a community committed to supporting individuals who disclose and building a culture of safety, respect and consent,” she adds.

The next workshop takes place Feb. 26 and is offered through Learning & Organizational Development. There are another three sessions offered this term, on both campuses.  Workshops on Fort Garry campus are led by Carly Moffat from Student Residences, with contributions from the university’s offices of health and wellness, student support and human rights and conflict management. Bannatyne campus sessions are led by Leah Deane, from Student Services at Bannatyne campus.

Initially created by U of M’s Sexual Assault and Violence Steering Committee (SAVSC), the workshop is ideal for those in front-line positions who are most likely to receive direct disclosures from either students or staff. That said, there is no limit to who could be faced with a situation in which someone discloses sexual violence.

“Any of us could be in a position to receive a disclosure of sexual violence at any time, whether it be from a student or from a colleague,” explains Heather Morris, Director of Student Advocacy and Case Management and member of the Responding to Sexual Violence Disclosures presenting team.

“For someone who has disclosed an experience of sexual violence, the response they receive is extremely important in helping them move forward in a positive way, but could potentially re-traumatize them if the response is not respectful and supportive. Our hope is that by attending these workshops, staff and faculty will have confidence to respond in an appropriate way and help us create a climate of support for survivors of sexual violence,” says Morris.

Designed to give staff and faculty the knowledge and skills to respond to disclosures in a compassionate way, consult for support and refer effectively, the workshop will walk participants through the key elements and guidelines to responding to a sexual assault disclosure and reviews the current sexual assault policy on campus.

It also includes an interactive portion, based on example scenarios, to allow participants the opportunity for observation, feedback and practise.

Before attending this course, participants are asked to read through the Helping Someone Who Has Experienced Sexual Violence information packet.  The focus of this workshop is on responding to disclosures and not on the process of filing a formal complaint or report.


Staff, faculty and student staff members can sign up for the workshops though LOD.

Note that certain groups (e.g. managers) have additional steps they must comply with, regarding policy, responsibility and legality.

Student groups interested in similar training can contact the Health and Wellness Educator, Britt Harvey


The University of Manitoba is committed to being a safe place for people to disclose experiences of sexual violence and to receive effective support and referrals.




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