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  • Victoria Jackson

How to Support Someone who discloses to you


When someone has chosen to disclose that they are a victim of sexual violence it takes a lot of courage and can be one of the hardest parts of the process.

The biggest thing you can do is listen. Listening is the most important thing you can do to support someone in this situation. Scott Thomas, CBU’s diversity and human rights officer, gave the following advice, “If someone discloses something to you, simply saying thank you for sharing is the best step.” Sarah Currie, Woman’s Center Administrative Coordinator, gives the following advice: “The most important thing is to let them know it's not their fault, and they’re not alone.” Judy Kelley, Director of the Nancy Health and Counselling Center, and Thomas both echo this sentiment as well.

One of the biggest issues that arise when supporting someone is sharing your own views on what they should do. Thomas nicely puts it, “it's not about what we want when someone discloses to us, it’s about what that person wants [to do].”

That said, it is important to let them know what resources are available. If they are looking for support for their mental or physical help, they can go to the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Center. Scott Thomas, CBU’s Human Rights and Diversity Officer, is also available to talk with those in need of support. Even if you are not a victim of sexual violence yourself but would like advice on how to support someone, he is a great person to reach out to.

Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Center

Judy Kelley wants students to know that “the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Center is a one-shop stop. If you are curious about questions or are upset about something, just come in and talk. We might not have the answer, but we will help you find it.

The staff at the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Center has undergone training to help victims of sexual violence. They have also undergone cultural safety training for indigenous students as well as training for trans and nonbinary care. The center is on a first-name base with SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) nurses. They recently obtained the services of a psychiatrist and have trauma-informed one on one counselling. Additionally, there is anonymous STI testing available as well.

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas is a great person to go and to talk about this issue. He oversees the respectful community policy at CBU which sexual violence falls under. He has worked to improve sexual violence policies. He was involved in creating the bystander program with Canadian examples and developed the first stand-alone sexual violence policy for CBU.

He can guide you to more support systems such as peer support groups, or other resources I have not discussed in this article. He is a safe person to disclose or report to.

Campus Security

Campus security offers programs such as the Safe Walk program and lone worker/student program.

The Safe Walk program is for anyone who is feeling uncomfortable or unsafe walking to their destination on university property, security will provide an escort. The phone number to request such services is 902-578-2316.

The Lone Worker/Student program is a service where if you are studying or working on campus, you can request Campus Security to check on you periodically. It is available 24/7 for every day of the week. If this is of interest to you, contact 902-578-2316.

Contact information for Supports Systems

Nancy Dingwall Counselling and Health Center Email: healthservices@cbu.ca Phone number: 902-563-1359

Scott Thomas, Human Rights and Diversity officer Email: Scott_Thomas@cbu.ca

CBU’S Women’s Center Email: su_womenscenter@cbu.ca

SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) Program

· Annapolis Valley, South Shore, and Tri County areas: 1-833-577-SANE (7263)

· Halifax area: 902-425-0122

· Guysborough, Antigonish, Pictou and Richmond Counties: 1-877-880-SANE (7263)

· Sydney and greater Cape Breton areas: 1-844-858-8036

· Cumberland, Colchester East Hants, and Eastern Shore areas:1-833-757-SANE (7263)

For more information on the SANE program: Nova Scotia Health Authority (nshealth.ca)

More facts on sexual violence in Canada:

Sexual Assault And Harassment in Canada | The Facts (canadianwomen.org)

References

Interview with Sarah Currie and Sophia Butler- Doucette. Conducted by Victoria Jackson.

Interview with Judy Kelley, Scott Thomas, [2 student nurse names]. Conducted by Victoria Jackson.

Campus Security - Cape Breton University : Cape Breton University (cbu.ca)


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