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Sexual Violence Prevention and Response webpage launched

 'Barb Lotan'
Barbara Lotan arrived at Queen's in May 2016 as the inaugural Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator. (University Communications) 

When Barbara Lotan arrived at Queen’s as the inaugural Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator in May 2016 she found that while the university was already doing a lot of great work it was sometimes difficult to see what supports and services were available and how to access them. This challenge also was identified by students looking for resources. 

Sexual Violence Prevention and Response webpage

Sexual Violence means any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent, and includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, and sexual exploitation.

Queen's commitment
All persons who disclose an experience of sexual violence can expect to be:
• treated with compassion, dignity, and respect
• provided with timely safety planning assistance
• informed about on- and off-campus support services and resources available to them
• provided with non-judgmental and sympathetic support
• provided with accommodations as appropriate
• integral decision-makers in situations pertaining to themselves
• allowed to determine whether and to whom they wish to disclose or report their experience

In response, Queen’s recently launched the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response webpage, which brings together a wide range of support and information at Queen’s and throughout the community in one location making it easier for Queen’s community members to make the connections they need.

While the issue of sexual violence may be complex the webpage is simple. There are two large buttons that are front and centre – one labeled “Get Help Now” and the other “Give Help.”

“The focus for the webpage is to help students navigate and find the resources that are available,” says Ms. Lotan adding that the page works as an informational hub, providing direct links to service and support providers both at Queen’s and in the community. “We took this master-list approach so that they can pick and choose and be confident that they are going to get the information they need through the links.”

Under ‘Get Help Now,’ survivors are taken through three stages: Go to a safe place; Seek medical attention; and Explore support resources. For ‘Give Help’ the webpage provides a list of what to do and what not to do as well as some online training.

Ms. Lotan also highlights that the university’s support for survivors of sexual violence isn’t limited to on-campus incidents or to their time at Queen’s.

“The wording of the Queen’s policy on sexual violence is very important because it is sexual violence involving Queen’s students, not just sexual violence on campus. It’s not just a campus problem, it’s a community problem, it’s a societal problem,” she says. “For example, we provide support and services for students who experienced sexual violence before they got to Queen’s. If a student gets here and for whatever reason their past history is something that they need support with then we are providing support.”

That also means ensuring that Queen’s community members know what to do when confronted by an incident of sexual violence. Along with the webpage, new print materials are being published and there are a growing number of educational opportunities for staff and faculty.

Shortly after Ms. Lotan arrived at Queen’s the provincial government introduced the Harassment Action Plan Act. The response at Queen's required a wide range of contributions from campus partners but it also helped create a solid foundation for the sexual violence policy. Moving forward Ms. Lotan says the university must continue to talk about sexual violence and make sure the right voices are included in those conversations.

While she is pleased with the progress to date, Ms. Lotan knows that there is much more to be done to ensure Queen’s is providing an inclusive service that meets the needs of the diverse communities we serve.

“I would say that the work we have done to date has been exciting because clearly my role is filling a gap. There was a need,” she says. “Students are accessing me regularly, staff and faculty are accessing me regularly, and that in itself speaks to a problem that exists. But I’m really so happy that they are finding me and that I am able to direct them to where they need to go, helping them make those choices and helping them along that path.”

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual violence, support is available at the Sexual Violence Support and Response webpage or contact Ms. Lotan directly at bjl7@queensu.ca  or 533-6330.