Disclosing/Reporting an incident

If you have experienced sexual violence, know that you are not responsible and you are not alone. The following is a guide about how to disclose/report incidents of sexual violence at the University. You can also refer to resources that provide help in cases of sexual violence.

Possible Concerns in Disclosing/Reporting an incident of sexual violence

Deciding whether to disclose/report an incident of sexual violence is not easy. There are often several reasons why you would prefer not to talk about it:

  • you fear the assailant, or possible retaliation, or you fear for your safety;
  • you feel alone and the only one to have experienced this type of situation;
  • you feel guilty and somehow responsible;
  • you are ashamed of what happened to you;
  • you dread nasty comments;
  • you fear you won’t be believed;
  • you may feel conflicting emotions about the attacker;
  • you don’t want to get involved in legal proceedings;
  • you’re afraid to upset your family and friends; and/or
  • you fear reliving or facing painful emotions ;


Deciding to disclose/report, however, could provide you with the following:

  • receiving necessary support(s);
  • overcoming shame and fear;
  • discovering that you are not alone or different;
  • gaining the tools you need to manage or reduce negative effects;
  • moving forward in the healing process;
  • preventing similar situations; and
  • regaining control over the situation.

The impact of an incident of sexual violence differs from person to person and this affects when, and whether a survivor discloses/reports an incident. Deciding not to file a complaint does not mean that the incident did not occur, or that it was not serious. It only means that you are not ready, for your own valid reasons, to undertake this step.

Regardless of what you decide, it is YOUR choice. Take time to think about it, to take care of yourself and talk with someone you trust.

Who can disclose/report an incident of sexual violence at the University of Ottawa?

Any member of the University community may disclose/report an incident of sexual violence, whether they are survivors or witnesses. The University community includes:

  • all students of the University of Ottawa, whether they are undergraduate or graduate students, part-time or full-time students (including students with special status???);
  • all employees, including all members of teaching staff and support staff members, regardless of whether they are union members or not;
  • clinicians and physicians with an academic appointment; adjunct, visiting and emeritus professors; post-doctoral or clinical fellows; research trainees; and medical residents;
  • contractors, consultants, suppliers or other groups or individuals hired by the University to provide services or goods, when on University property or while acting in a capacity defined by their relationship to the University;
  • members of the Board of Governors and the Senate, and of their respective committees, as well as members of any advisory boards formed to help the University achieve its goals;
  • employees of both unionized and non-unionized employee and student groups when on University property or while acting in a capacity defined by their relationship to the University; and
  • visitors, including visiting students and volunteers or persons who serve on advisory board or other committees.
Where to disclose/report an incident of sexual violence?

Should you decide to disclose/report an incident of sexual violence, there are several places where you can receive support or obtain further information about the options available to address your concern. Note that visiting any one of the following services to disclose/report an incident of sexual violence does not mean that you are required to file a complaint. You also have the right to be accompanied by a support person during your visit, and to request information on the level of confidentiality you can expect before disclosing/reporting an incident.

Human Rights Office (bilingual)
1 Stewart Street, Room 121
Monday to Friday, from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Human Rights Office is responsible for receiving disclosures/reports, and handling complaints, of sexual violence.

What to expect

You can meet with a sexual violence prevention officer, who:

  • uses a survivor-centred approach to listen without judging;
  • can explain the limits of confidentiality;
  • can refer you to the appropriate resources to provide support or meet other needs you may have;
  • can evaluate risks and work with you to create a safety plan;
  • can provide information on possible options to address the situation;
  • can explain the formal complaint process;
  • can explain possible work or study accommodation measures; and
  • can inform you of any other options to deal with the situation.

Protection Services (bilingual)
141 Louis Pasteur Street
613-562-5411 (emergencies)
Open 24/7

Protection Services is responsible for ensuring the safety of members of the University community

What to expect

You can meet with either a male or female security officer, whichever gender you prefer, who will:

  • listen and support you, including by presenting the various resources available to you;
  • fill out a confidential report, which, depending on your situation, could be sent to the Human Rights Office so that a sexual violence prevention officer can contact you and offer support;
  • inform you of possible options to ensure your safety on campus; and
  • follow up with police, if you wish.

Ottawa Police Service (bilingual)
Sexual Assault/Child Abuse Unit (bilingual)
474 Elgin Street
613-236-1222 ext. 5944
Open 24/7

You will meet with a police officer, of the gender of your choice, who will interview you in a private and safe environment so you can provide more details on the incident(s), including proof. If the police have reason to believe that a crime has been committed, in consultation with you, they will bring charges that will then be transferred to the prosecutor’s office (Crown) for legal action.

For more information on the Ottawa Police Services complaint process, refer to their process map.

University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine

Members of the University community attached to the Faculty of Medicine can report an incident of sexual violence by submitting an online reporting form or by contacting the Student Affairs Office for support.

Complaint process

The Human Rights Office is responsible for handling all disclosed/reported incidents of sexual violence involving a member of the University community in non-emergency situations, whether or not this violence occurred on campus. 

In keeping with a survivor-centered approach, there are different ways of addressing incidents of sexual violence and the survivor is entitled to choose the option that is best suited for them.

Informal complaint or other alternative resolution methods

The survivor may choose one or more informal or alternative resolution methods to address their situation including, but not limited to:

  • documenting the situation and keeping the evidence (which could be presented if the survivor decides to file a formal complaint at some time in the future;
  • conducting a risk assessment;
  • creating a safety plan;
  • arranging for accommodation measures to support the survivor’s work or study;
  • requesting a meeting with the accused to discuss the situation and to encourage them to attend training on sexual violence and consent; and/or
  • other measures appropriate to the circumstances.

If the survivor does not wish to file a formal complaint for the time being, they, can do so at a later time when they are ready.

Formal complaint

Only the survivor can file a formal complaint, which must be in writing with the Human Rights Office. Once the survivor has met with a sexual violence prevention officer to discuss possible options, the survivor can ask to have the complaint evaluated and investigated.

To learn more about the investigation process, refer to Section 7 of Policy 67b – Prevention of Sexual Violence. Please note that you have the right to a fair, impartial and professional process.

During the process, the Human Rights Office may implement temporary measures to protect the parties and the University community.

Confidentiality and situations in which the University may be obligated to investigate in the absence of a formal complaint

The University will treat reports of sexual violence in a confidential manner in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and applicable collective agreements.

The University will make every reasonable effort to maintain confidentiality when it becomes aware of an incident of sexual violence and will limit disclosure of information about individuals to those within the University who need to know this information in order to address the situation, investigate it and/or take corrective action.

However, under certain circumstances, the University may be under legal obligation where it may not be able to guarantee complete confidentiality, namely:

  • if an individual is at risk of self-harm;
  • if an individual is at risk of harming a particular individual;
  • if members of the University community or the public are at risk of harm; or
  • if reporting or investigation is required by law (including, but not limited to, the following cases: an incident involving a minor; obligations related to occupational health and safety; obligations specified in human rights legislation).

To maintain the integrity of the process, all persons involved in a matter are expected to keep confidential any information or details about the case, except with members of their support network.

Although certain data is gathered for statistical purposes, no information that could reveal the identity of a survivor will be disclosed.

Did you know?

Tools and resources

Please note that the feminine is used throughout this website, but it does not exclude any person who has been a victim of sexual violence.

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