Support for complainants
There is no right or wrong way to feel after experiencing sexual violence or harassment and each person experiences different responses. Know that all responses are valid and normal and that you don’t have to go through this alone. Your voice and experience matter. This was not your fault.
People who experience sexual assault or sexual violence may use the term 'survivor' and some prefer the term 'victim'. Some people may prefer no term at all. You can decide what works best for you. At Langara, if conducting an investigation, we will use the term 'complainant' to ensure fair process.
How you might feel
Each survivor of sexual violence and harassment has their own personal experience, emotions, and ways of coping. Some examples are:
- A change in how you feel about yourself (for example, lowered self-esteem or lack of confidence).
- A change in how you feel about your body (for example, feeling unclean, detached from your body, wanting to harm your body).
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach problems, or eating and sleeping problems.
- Emotional symptoms such as mood swings, feelings of loss or grief, anger, rage, irritability, anxiety, depression, or a tendency to isolate. You may also use humor to cope.
- Using alcohol, drugs, or exercise to cope with your feelings
- Lack of motivation and difficulty concentrating.
- Problems with sexual intimacy, wanting less or more sex, a change in pleasure, or a change in emotional connection.
- Experiencing flashbacks or nightmares
- Feeling numb or experiencing memory loss
When someone experiences sexual violence or harassment it can be difficult to understand why it happened and you may question yourself and your actions. Remember – no one invites or deserves sexual violence.
Know that it’s ok to not be ok, and that it’s ok to ask for help. Many people find that talking to someone can be really helpful and know that healing looks different for everyone and you get to decide what works best for you. If you experience any form of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment or sexual violence, Langara will help you. Explore our on-campus and off-campus resources to learn more.
More options for you
If you have experienced sexual violence and do not want to access campus resources or it is after operational hours, some things to consider are:
- If you are in immediate danger or need urgent medical attention, we encourage you to contact the police or ambulance services by calling 911.
- If you want to report to the police and the situation is not urgent (e.g., the sexual assault is not recent, you are not in danger), call the non-emergency number for police in your community. This could be the Vancouver Police Department (non-emergency 604.717.3321) or an RCMP Detachment in your community.
- If you are worried or have questions about calling the police, contact VictimLink BC at 1.800.563.0808 or WAVAW at 604.255.6344 (24HR crisis line) or 1.877.392.7583 (toll-free) for confidential and anonymous support and help.
- Tell someone you trust what happened. If a friend or family member can provide emotional support or help you in practical ways, it’s ok to ask for help.
- Going to a hospital, a walk-in clinic, or a family doctor for a medical examination and treatment. While this can seem overwhelming, it can be useful to see what options you have in terms of forensic exam or testing for sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy.