Support, awareness, and education around sexual violence is at the heart of the work of the University of Windsor’s newly renamed Office of Sexual Violence Prevention, Resistance, and Support (OSVPRS), though respect for the individual is its guiding principle, says sexual misconduct officer Dusty Johnstone.
“Our office exists, foremost, to provide support to members of our campus community who have experienced any form of sexual violence or sexually inappropriate behaviour,” Dr. Johnstone says.
“It’s important that students, faculty, and staff know that they can seek our help under any circumstances, without any obligation to formally report. We can speak confidentially. I’m here to listen, and what happens next is up to them.”
Johnstone says sexual misconduct includes all forms of sexually inappropriate behaviour and sexual violence, and includes — but is not limited to — rape and sexual assault, sexual and gender-based harassment, stalking, cyber harassment, and relationship violence.
She says she is there to listen and support, regardless of when an incident occurred.
“Whether it was recently or a long time ago, you deserve to be listened to and heard,” she says. “I can also connect individuals with counselling and medical services if that is their choice, as well as reporting options, both on campus and to the police. If they choose to file a formal complaint, I will be there as a touchpoint for them throughout the process and can help arrange academic and workplace accommodations, as well safety planning.”
She says her office is committed to compassion, dignity, and respect for those who seek help, with their voices and choices coming first. As well, OSVPRS offers a wide variety of educational and awareness training workshops for all members of the campus community, including:
- the University’s Bystander Initiative, which provides training on how to recognize and intervene safely in situations that may lead to sexual assault;
- Flip the Script sexual assault resistance education for university women;
- Wen-Do Women’s Self-Defense and Acts of Resistance, self-defence training for the LGBTQ+ community; and
- online training in responding to disclosure of sexual assault, and issues of sexual wellness and consent.
Most recently, the University has partnered with REES (Respect, Educate, Empower Survivors), a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week centralized online reporting and information platform that provides increased options for students, staff, and faculty to report sexual violence. The tool, customized to the specific needs of the University of Windsor, includes crucial information about resources and supports available both on campus and in community, as well as offering three reporting options that include Anonymous Report, Connect to My Campus, and Repeat Perpetrator Identification.
“REES now provides our campus community with a reporting option that is safe, secure, and allows individuals to report their incident and empower themselves with the option of having their voice heard in whatever way they choose,” Johnstone says.
“We want to be here for members of our campus community in any way that is comfortable for them and provides the support they need based on their individual experience and choices.”