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Sexual violence resources and support at UM

September 8, 2022 — 

Maintaining a healthy work and learning environment includes cultivating a space focused on consent and without sexual violence. At the University of Manitoba, this also means that all members of our community should feel safe when receiving supports after any experience related to sexual violence.

The Sexual Violence Resource Centre (SVRC) uses a trauma-informed approach to provide information, resources and support to anyone who has been affected by sexual violence. It’s a place where survivors, or people supporting survivors, can find a safe space. Their doors are open to all faculty, staff and students in the UM community who need their help.

Incidents don’t need to relate to the university – UM community members can seek support for any experience of sexual violence no matter where or when it happened. As SVRC Coordinator Bre Woligroski sums up, “we’re here for students whether they have an experience themselves, are supporting someone else, or they want to advocate for change on campus.”

Focusing on each survivor and what they need is a central goal of the SVRC. Sexual violence affects each survivor differently, which is why the SVRC’s trauma-informed and survivor-centred approach puts the needs of each survivor first – informing them of their resource and reporting options without pressuring them into any course of action, and supporting them through each decision they make.

Confidentiality is at the heart of the SVRC’s work. It’s crucial that individuals feel assured that information will not be released without permission and that anyone who accesses the SVRC’s services will not be pressured to pursue a certain course of action.

Since its establishment in 2020, the SVRC has been committed to expanding to better help serve the UM community. This Fall the SVRC, in partnership with the Health and Wellness Office, will launch a new program called the Safer Spaces Event Team. This program will train students to support peers at alcohol-based campus events in building a safe and inclusive social space, while assisting if concerning situations arise.

While the SVRC works with people on an individual basis, they also deliver group educational workshops on preventing sexual violence and maintaining a respectful environment for survivors. These workshops are intended to initiate the conversations community members need to have and address subjects we all need to work on as a campus community.

Bringing in the Bystander, a workshop facilitated by students, is designed to teach participants to actively engage in sexual violence prevention. Students learn from peers how to safely take actions to make our campus a safer place for all. The Responding to Disclosures workshop trains participants in supporting sexual violence survivors when they make a personal disclosure about their experience. The workshop equips students with the skills to respond well in those situations, and to properly help the survivor emotionally.

These workshops have an important role in keeping the UM community safe. By focusing on individual efforts that not only prevent sexual violence but also positively impact people telling their story, individual actions can contribute to a lasting paradigm-shift in the UM community.

“It’s all about supporting students to help support others, which I think is very important,” Woligroski adds.

If you or someone you know have concerns related to sexual violence, the SVRC is here to assist you. “We’re here to support all members of the campus community in whatever way that makes sense for them, and however it’s safe for them,” says Woligroski.

More information on the Sexual Violence Resource Centre and their services can be found on their website or by calling the SVRC at 204-474-6562.

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