WARNING: This piece talks about sexual violence and may be triggering for some readers.

SEXUAL ASSAULT at QUEEN'S.

a QUEEN'S JOURNAL special project.

by Sebastian Leck, Features Editor

"He took off his clothes.

I told him over and over to leave my room.

"I had a boyfriend at the time. I kept telling him to go to his room. His room was across the hall from me. He wouldn’t go. I said I’m going to scream if you don’t go, and he didn’t go, and I said I’ll go sleep in your bed and you sleep in my bed and he wouldn’t let me leave even then.

 

 

It’s weird to explain. You don’t want to cause a situation. You just go with it.

"We ended up sleeping in my bed. He had a way of holding me so I couldn’t move. He stayed in there all night, and at one point he grabbed my hand, kissed it for

whatever reason, and put it on his area, right against it. I freaked out a little bit.

 

 

I hit him. I told him to stop. And in the morning he got up and left, and I pretended to be asleep."

He wouldn’t leave my room.

This fourth-year student said she was sexually assaulted in September of her first year at Queen’s. Her alleged assailant lived on her residence floor — in the room across
the hall.

 

He’d been aggressive earlier in the night, she said. They’d been sitting on a carpet in a residence room when he tried to kiss her.

 

“He wound up pushing me on my back and getting on top of me and he kept trying to kiss me and I was turning my head away,” she said. There were three or four other people in the room, she said, but nobody did anything.

 

The student said she reported the incident to her don, who told her to knock on his door if something happened again. Her alleged assailant remained on her floor for the rest of the year.

 

She’s one of many students who have experienced sexual assault in the areas surrounding Queen’s campus. Exact numbers are hard to find, since most survivors — like her — don’t report sexual assaults when they occur.

 

A 2004 Statistics Canada General Social Survey (GSS) found that approximately eight per cent of sexual assaults in Canada were reported to police.

 

The survey, which relied on self-reporting from a sample of 23,766 respondents, found that around 84 per cent of victims were female and 16 per cent were male. According to the reports, 91 per cent of the perpetrators were male.

 

Another GSS was conducted in 2009, but the comparison between police-reported

and self-reported sexual assaults wasn’t published because the data was

considered unreliable.

 

The fourth-year student said she didn’t report her assault because she didn’t want to cause a situation on her floor.

 

“You don’t want people to think ‘she’s a chick who couldn’t handle her alcohol and then got pissed because this guy slept in her bed and that’s all he did’,” she said.

 

After the same male student looked through her phone messages that November, she said, she isolated herself in her room and went home for most weekends. She no longer felt safe on campus.

 

“Home was the place where I felt comfortable, where my friends were,” she said.

“I wasn’t making friends on my floor because I was afraid to come out of my room.”

 

The student said the reactions she received from other people were often negative.

Most of all, she said, she wishes people had believed her.

 

“In so many cases people dismiss it, they don’t believe it, or they belittle it, and you end up looking like the idiot,” she said.

 

Two years after the assault, the student ran into her alleged assailant at a party.

 

“It was weird. He acted like we were best friends,” she said. Once again, she didn’t want to create a conflict, and mentioned nothing about that night in residence.

The number of sexual assaults reported on campus...

Per cent of Queen's students surveyed that experienced a form of sexual assault

... doesn't come close to the number allegedly occurring.

Incidents of sexual assault reported to Campus Security and Kingston Police Force

Several organizations in Kingston keep records of sexual assaults, with

conflicting reports.

 

A National College Health Assessment survey released in 2013 found that 11.4 per cent of Queen’s students reported sexual touching without their consent during the previous 12 months, and 2.1 per cent reported sexual penetration without
their consent.

 

The data, which was collected by Health, Counselling, and Disability Services (HCDS), was based on a sample of 1,241 students.

 

The Kingston Police Force (KPF) recorded 21 sexual assaults from January to September 2014 in Zones 1 and 4. The zones contain the Queen’s campus and the University District, bordered by Princess St. to the east and north and Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd. in the west.

 

These assaults constituted 27.6 per cent of the total sexual assaults reported in Kingston. In the same nine-month period in 2013, 31 sexual assaults were recorded in Zones 1 and 4.

 

Detective Pat Benoit from the KPF Sexual Crimes Unit said it’s difficult to estimate the number of people who don’t report sexual assaults.

 

Even when survivors report a sexual assault, he said, many decide not to follow through with the court process required for a conviction.

 

“Sometimes we don’t see the need for the victim to go through the court process and the pre-trial and having to face the accused,” Benoit said, “knowing that there is a pretty good chance they won’t get a conviction because it’s his or her word against
the accused.”

 

The University has no official disciplinary body for handling sexual assault cases. Instead, sexual assault cases can be filed through the Human Rights Office (HRO) sexual harassment complaint process.

 

Under the University’s harassment and discrimination complaint policy, sexual harassment means “engaging in comment or conduct of a sexual nature which is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome”, according to Margot Coulter, the HRO’s sexual harassment prevention coordinator.

 

“It includes physical contact of a sexual nature (up to and including sexual assault as defined under the Criminal Code.),” Coulter told the Journal via email.

 

As a criminal offence, sexual assault is outside the HRO’s mandate, Coulter said.

 

“However, if someone does not wish to file a complaint with the police but wishes to make a sexual harassment complaint internally, they may seek the assistance of an Advisor in the Human Rights Office to address the sexual harassment elements of the complaint,” she said.

 

The University creates a new Complaint Board for each formal sexual harassment complaint it receives.

 

The board — comprised of one appointed chair or vice-chair and two selected members of Senate — gathers evidence and decides on appropriate action. The chair and vice-chair “will have experience sufficient to advise the Harassment and Discrimination Complaint Board on matters of human rights law and procedure”, according to the policy.

 

Potential sanctions include a formal reprimand, a public report of the findings, suspension, dismissal or expulsion from the University.

 

The policy was last updated in 2000.

 

A 2004 Statistics Canada General Social Survey (GSS) found that approximately eight per cent of sexual assaults in Canada were reported to police.

54 per cent of female students and 84 per cent of male students consider the University District "safe".

Male

Female

“Sometimes we don’t see the need for the victim to go through the court process ...  knowing that there is a pretty good chance they won’t get a conviction because it’s his or her word against the accused.”

 

                      – Detective Pat Benoit, KPF Sexual Crimes Unit

The Kingston General Hospital (KGH) Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Program provides treatment to survivors. They also provide sexual assault kits to preserve evidence for a possible investigation.

 

After the hospital treats a survivor, Detective Benoit said, a social worker gives him or her a sexual assault kit and provides the option of sending it to the police.

 

Benoit said community services like KGH and the Kingston Sexual Assault Centre (SAC) coordinate with the police and offer victims the option of reporting a sexual assault. However, he added, none of them push survivors to report.

 

KGH declined to provide statistics on the number of people treated at the unit each year, citing its patient confidentiality policy.

 

HCDS was unable to provide statistics on yearly reports of sexual assault. According to HCDS Director Mike Condra, retrieving the information isn’t feasible because the service tracks reports in paper files rather than in a database.

 

Campus Security, meanwhile, hasn’t reported any sexual assaults in 2014 and reported one sexual assault in 2013. Four sexual assaults is the highest number they’ve recorded in any year since 1998.

 

The Peer Support Centre (PSC), in comparison, had 10 reports of sexual assault during the past academic year, according to the Alma Mater Society (AMS) Social Issues Commission.

 

Campus Security Director David Patterson said he couldn’t judge how many sexual assaults may go unreported.

 

“Those are stats based on the occurrences that are reported to us. I wouldn’t want to speculate on occurrences that aren’t reported,” he said.

 

Campus Security doesn’t investigate sexual assaults, Patterson added, but it can help survivors find assistance from the KPF, KGH, HCDS or the Sexual Health Resource Centre (SHRC).

 

“Queen's Campus Security and Emergency Services is not a criminal investigative unit, and takes direction from the Kingston Police in violations of the Criminal Code of Canada,” he told the Journal via email.

 

If a suspect has charges before the court, restricted access to campus or contact with the victim can be a condition of their release on bail, Patterson said. If court-imposed conditions are violated, he added, Campus Security will inform the KPF and the suspect may be arrested by police and escorted off campus.

 

Around 90 per cent of clients at the Sexual Assault Centre (SAC) don’t report their assaults to the police, according to Kim Graham, the centre’s community

education coordinator.

 

Those that do report are often younger than 18, she said, in which case the centre is required to inform the police.

 

The centre has five counselors, including one young women’s outreach counselor and two first-response counselors. Graham said the centre’s crisis line is notably busier during Queen’s frosh week and the first week of January every year.

 

The centre doesn’t keep records on what portion of their clients are students, but she said every SAC counselor has Queen’s students on their caseload.

 

For example, 21 of one counselor’s 81 new clients this year are in the 18-to 24-year-old age range — which doesn’t include clients already seeing the counselor at the SAC.

 

Graham said survivors of sexual assault can be “re-victimized” by the process of reporting their assault, especially if their personal responsibility is brought
into question.

 

“The questioning at the police station brings about guilt and shame in people,” Graham said. In court, judges have said “some odd and disturbing things”, and more education is required for law enforcement officials, she added.

 

She said a staff member from the SAC often accompanies victims to the police station to provide support during the reporting process.

 

The best thing students can do to help survivors is listen to them, avoid assigning blame and provide suggestions without pressuring them, Graham said.

 

“Sometimes the victim doesn’t feel like they’re being believed, so the most important thing is to believe them,” she said.

Where is off-campus assault happening?

Despite the pressure to remain silent, more students and university administrators have become aware of sexual assault on campuses in recent years.

 

Two players from the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees men’s hockey team were charged with sexually assaulting a young woman on a team road trip to Thunder Bay in February.

 

A series of sexual assaults occurred on the University of British Columbia campus in 2013, which police now believe were committed by a single perpetrator.

 

At Queen’s, some discussions of sexual assault have centered on victim blaming and free speech.

 

Former Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) Representative Alexander Prescott was censured by the organization in March 2013 after he said in a Facebook comment: “It’s important to note … that some of the onus in these situations should lie with the victim.”

 

An anti-feminist talk hosted by the Men’s Issues Awareness Society (MIAS) this March was met with similar outrage. The visiting speaker, Dr. Janice Fiamengo, criticized the notion of safe spaces and questioned statistics on rape and sexual assault used by feminist groups on campuses.

 

An opposition group attempted to de-ratify MIAS before the event occurred, and the Levana Gender Advocacy Centre held a follow-up event on feminism and rape culture in April.

 

The term “rape culture” has been central to each debate.

 

According to gender studies professor Scott Morgensen, the term grew out of the first university women’s studies departments established in the United States in the 1960s.

 

“Even if the details shift over time, the concept always referred to the same thing: any culture that portrays rape as normal, inevitable, or unquestionable,” Morgensen told the Journal via email.

 

Professor Samantha King, who is cross-appointed to the gender studies department and the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, said making women feel unsafe or responsible for their own safety perpetuates rape culture.

 

“People often downplay street harassment as commonplace or harmless, but it makes many people — women, people of colour, LGBT people, the poor — feel extraordinarily unsafe in public spaces,” King told the Journal via email.

 

King said strategies for combating rape culture are still under debate. Some people argue deconstructing gender norms is necessary, she said, while others advocate changes to the way the legal system deals with rape.

 

“In terms of small steps, calling out our friends who make rape jokes or engage in other practices that normalize sexual violence is a great place to start,” she said.

 

The University of Windsor’s Bringing in the Bystander program is designed to teach students to take those steps by encouraging them to intervene in situations before sexual violence occurs. Dusty Johnstone, a teaching fellow in women’s studies at Windsor, currently runs the program.

 

“The idea is that when most instances of sexual violence occur, someone is around before or while it is happening who is in a position where they could have intervened or they could have done something,” Johnstone said.

 

She said there are three approaches to combating sexual violence: targeting the perpetrator, targeting the victim and targeting people in the community.

 

The majority of men don’t commit sexual violence, she said — instead, it’s a small number of men who commit such crimes repeatedly. Teaching perpetrators not to rape is good in theory, Johnstone added, but not effective in practice.

 

The second approach – telling victims to avoid assault by taking preventative measures — errs closely to victim blaming and is often ineffective, she said. On the other hand, the bystander approach shifts responsibility to the entire community, according to Johnstone.

 

Students in the Windsor program learn to identify situations that could lead to sexual violence and to intervene before they escalate – sometimes by removing an intoxicated person from a situation, she said, or by simply making it awkward.

 

The SHRC defines sexual assault as:

“any form of unwanted sexual activity including fondling, touching, and/or penetration that is forced upon another person without that person’s consent. Both men and women can be sexually assaulted, even within marriage or dating situations.”

 

Roll over below to see how students defined sexual assault.

 

The SHRC defines consent as:

“Consent involves the voluntary agreement of two adults to engage in sexual activity. A person under the influence of medication, alcohol, or drugs cannot give consent.”

 

 

 

Roll over below to see how students defined consent.

 

Queen’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group is considering a bystander prevention program of its own, according to Arig al Shaibah, assistant dean of Student Affairs.


al Shaibah is the chair of the working group, which was established in 2013. It includes members of Queen’s administration, the AMS, the KPF, the SAC, HCDS and
Queen’s HRO.

 

The group has contacted the University of Windsor about a potential bystander initiative program at Queen’s, al Shaibah added, but any further development depends on whether funding is available.

 

AMS Social Issues Commissioner Emily Wong sits on the working group. She oversees gender equity groups and social issues campaigns run by the student government.

 

Wong said education is the most important element of tackling the “normalization” of sexual violence.

 

“It’s getting behind that normalization and breaking down the myths. That’s what students can do in their everyday lives,” she said.

 

Mike Condra, director of HCDS, said his service focuses on prevention, education and support in their strategy for reducing sexual assault.

 

The centre coordinated several educational poster campaigns in the past five years to raise awareness of dating violence, the definition of consent and various situations that could constitute sexual assault.

 

According to Condra, HCDS directs survivors to KGH for medical assessment, but all of their counselors are trained to deal with sexual assault.

 

“Counsellors are available to attend in support of a student, at the request of either Campus Security or Residence Life, when an incident is reported” to the University, he told the Journal via email.

 

Condra said shame and humiliation deter students from reporting sexual assaults, often out of fear that they’ll be blamed for the assault or doubted.

 

“Developing a culture in which the occurrence of sexual assault is acknowledged, its impacts are accepted and understood is key to reducing the stigma associated with reporting,” he said.

 

“The foundation of this change is education, supported across the entire institution.”

 

How does the University deal with sexual assault?

Sexual assault and harassment aren't covered under the AMS’s non-academic discipline policy. Only the Human Rights Office can handle these cases.

When a case is brought to the HRO, the survivor has two options, and is advised by the HRO which fits their situation the best.

 

Informal: any reasonable steps may be taken to resolve a complaint

 

– A ‘no contact’ letter might be written to dissuade contact between the alleged assailant and
 the survivor.

– Class schedules can be changed to avoid contact.

– Conversation between all involved parties with the HRO willing to act as a third party.

Formal: “A formal complaint involves requesting that the Secretary of the University assemble a three-person Complaint Board to make an official ruling on the complaint.”

 

– “The Complaint Board selects the appropriate remedial measures to be taken based on evidence of the probability that the alleged harassment/discrimination
took place.”

 

 

"When a complaint involves sexual assault, any internal actions taken will not jeopardize any action a person may wish to pursue through civil or criminal procedures."

 

 

Between 2006-09 the HRO dealt with 134 cases related to sex or sex issues.

*Names have been changed

*Survey was taken randomly, in person, results are not intended to be entirely conclusive or to be interpreted with quantitative basis

 

It was the Halloween of her first year at Queen’s, said another fourth-year student, when she was raped in residence.

 

The student had recently broken up with her boyfriend when she went to a party in the University District with a group of friends from residence. She was living in Victoria Hall at the time.

 

“I had told one girl, who I thought was my friend, that we had broken up so she could keep an eye out for me because I was feeling really vulnerable,” she said, adding that she was upset and drank too much.

 

“There were these two guys that kept flirting with me and I was flirting back.”

 

When the party finished, the group headed back to Victoria Hall, she said, and everyone on her floor went back to their rooms. The student then went to find her friend on another floor.

 

She said she was in a residence room with her friend and a group of people when the friend left with another male student.

 

Others starting leaving, she said, until she was left with one of the male students she met earlier at the party.

 

When the last girl left, she said, he closed and locked the door.

 

“He sat down on the bed and started kissing me,” she said. “I didn’t really want to, but I was at that point of being drunk where I was going in and out of consciousness and there are gaps in my memory.

 

“I remember that he was taking off my shirt and my bra and I just kept thinking, ‘this is what you’re supposed to be doing in university, it’s fine, it’s fun’, but I knew that I didn’t want to have sex. The next thing, when we were kissing, he asked,
‘sex or a blowjob?’”

 

After performing oral sex, she was raped twice that night, she said.

 

She had been making friends with other students on her alleged rapist’s floor, but after the assault, she said, she gained a reputation for promiscuity and those
friendships ended.

 

Seemingly mundane occurrences, like mentions of Halloween, can cause flashbacks, she said, and she has since suffered panic attacks.

 

“I can’t walk past my residence or anything. It makes it hard to be intimate with my current boyfriend and I get flashbacks sometimes, especially in certain positions,” she said. “I always have to be able to see his face.”

 

Rape jokes are also hard for her to handle — the word took on a new meaning after her experience, she said. She began seeing a therapist the summer before last, and has since told her boyfriend.

 

“It was good to speak to someone for the first time in years and just to have someone tell me that it wasn’t my fault,” she said. She had trouble accepting that it was an assault until then — she had imagined a man in a dark alley, not someone she knew in residence.

 

For her, Queen’s will always be associated with her assault.

 

“It’s always been tainted because of what happened in my first eight weeks here.”

 

Telling her story has been difficult, she said, and she had only told the full story to her therapist before being interviewed for this article.

 

“The less people I tell, the less real it is, and I can forget it instead of letting it become a defining aspect of my identity,” she said.

 

It was the prospect of helping fellow survivors that made her break her silence.

 

“The silver lining is if I could use my story to prevent it from happening or to help someone else that it has happened to,” she said.

 

“If it had to have happened, I may as well stop pretending it didn’t happen, and put the best spin on it that I can.”

 

Written by: Sebastian Leck

Production: Sam Koebrich

With files from: Olivia Bowden, Laura Russell

Video: Alex Pickering

Editing: Nick Faris, Vincent Ben Matak

 

Queen's Journal, 2014

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