MSVU’s Response to Sexual Violence

MSVU is committed to sexual violence prevention and providing a trauma-informed, survivor-centred response. As an MSVU student, you have the right to a campus environment that is free from sexualized violence, including sexual assault.

Sexual violence is any act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without that person’s consent, and includes the Criminal Code offences of sexual assault, criminal harassment (stalking), indecent exposure, voyeurism and non-consensual distribution of sexual/intimate images. Sexual violence can take place through any form or means of communication (e.g. online, social media, verbal, written, visual, “hazing”, or through a third party), and includes cyber stalking.

Sexual assault means any sexual activity without consent, including kissing, fondling, touching, oral sexual contact, stealthing, or anal, vaginal or other forms of contact or penetration, without consent. Sexual assault may be committed by a person of any gender against a person of any gender, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or relationship status. Condom stealthing (the removal of a condom without the express consent of the sexual partner), is a form of non-consensual sexual contact and is Sexual Assault.

If you are a victim/survivor of sexual violence, we encourage you to speak to a specially trained member of the MSVU community, such as a member of our Counselling Services, Health Office or Campus Security teams. Whether you choose to make a formal report or not, you are entitled to receive support on campus such as safety planning, counselling, medical support, and potential accommodations to your living arrangements or academics.

Relationships between MSVU employees and students: Faculty, staff and coaches are prohibited from having relationships with students when they are in (or may be in the future) a position of authority over the student or otherwise have influence over their success at MSVU. This includes student relationships with TAs. Even when the MSVU employee is not in a position of authority over the student, relationships are strongly discouraged.

MSVU Policy Against Sexual Violence (PDF)

Policy Guide booklet (PDF)

What should I do if I’ve experienced sexual violence or sexual assault?

If you have experienced sexual violence, it’s not your fault and you’re not alone. MSVU is committed to sexual violence prevention and providing a trauma-informed, survivor-centered response.

You have the option to disclose what happened at any time, even if it occurred in the past or off-campus. Some people on campus you can disclose to include:

After making a disclosure, you are entitled to receive supports and resources, which may include:

  • Safety planning and protective measures;
  • Counselling;
  • Medical services;
  • Academic/classroom, living and/or workplace accommodations;
  • Information on filing a report under this policy or external to MSVU.

Our primary concern following a disclosure is your safety, security and well-being. You have the right to determine how much information you disclose, when you disclose it, and who you disclose it to.

You will not be required or pressured to make a formal report and an investigation will not be triggered by disclosure. Disclosures and reports of sexual violence are separate actions that you can choose to take.

A report is a formal complaint of sexual violence to the university for the purposes of initiating an investigation, which could result in disciplinary action against the respondent. A report may be made in writing via email or in-person to:

  • Associate Vice-President, Student Experience, Dr. Keltie Jones, who can be reached at or in-person at Evaristus 201E
  • Harassment & Discrimination Advisor, who can be reached at

You are welcome to bring a support person to this meeting.

MSVU recognizes that you may require time to make decisions. There is no deadline. You are encouraged to make a report when you feel comfortable doing so.

Emergency resources


If you are in immediate danger, go somewhere safe and phone 9-1-1.


In times of emotional stress, people tend to minimize their own feelings out of self-protection, or out of consideration for the feelings of people they love. Although you may feel fine physically, your body may be numbed by a state of shock, so it’s important to seek medical care as soon as possible.

If you choose to have evidence collected, the sooner this is done, the more reliable and potentially useful it will be if you decide that you want to contact the police, but you do not have to decide right away because the evidence can be collected and saved for the future. That said, you can choose not to have the evidence collected during medical treatment.

Avalon Sexual Assault Centre / Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)

Phone: 902 425 0122 (SANE response line, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Call this line for medical and forensic assessments within seven days of sexualized violence.


Victim Services – Halifax Regional Police

Phone: 902 490 5300

Text (for those with hearing impairment): 902 497 4709

Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday


MSVU Security

Emergency Phone: 902 457 6111

Non-emergency Phone: 902 457 6412

These phone numbers are also found on the back of Student ID cards.

Location: Mount Saint Vincent University, Assisi Hall, Main Floor

Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Campus Security Phones: Once the receiver is lifted, the caller is automatically connected to the Security Office which is staffed 24/7.

Interior emergency phone locations:

  • Seton Academic Centre Lobby
  • Next to each elevator on Seton 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors
  • RBC Link (between Seton and EMF)
  • Rosaria Student Centre main entrance
  • Rosaria Student Centre third floor outside the Bookstore
  • Inside all elevators

Exterior emergency phone locations (painted yellow):

  • Bottom of staircase between Seton and Evaristus
  • Front, north corner of Evaristus near Pay and Display
  • On the wall outside 1st floor entrance of Westwood
  • EMF back parking lot
  • Walkway between top of College Rd and Birch 5

Nearest emergency room

19 years old or above: QEII Emergency Department at 1799 Robie Street, 902 473 2043

Under 19 years old: IWK Emergency Department at 5941 South Street, 902 470 8888

There are resources available to assist you with medical, mental health, or legal concerns during this time. If you need urgent help, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Campus resources

MSVU Health Services

Phone: 902 457 6354 (students choose option 0)

Location: Mount Saint Vincent University, Assisi Hall, Second Floor

Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, excluding holidays


MSVU Counselling Services

Phone: 902 457 6567


Location: Mount Saint Vincent University, EMF 108 (lower level of the library)

Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, excluding holidays


MSVU Campus Security

Emergency phone: 902 457 6111

Non-emergency phone: 902 457 6412

These phone numbers are also found on the backs of student ID cards.

Location: Mount Saint Vincent University, Assisi Hall, Main Floor

Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week


MSVU Harassment & Discrimination Advisor

Phone: 902 457 6766



Off campus resources

Avalon Sexual Assault Centre

Phone: 902 422 4240 (Avalon Centre general inquiries)

Phone: 902 425 0122 (SANE response line, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). This line is for medical and forensic assessments within seven days of sexualized violence.


Location: 1526 Dresden Row, Suite 401

Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. SANE response line at 902 425 0122 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Halifax Regional Police

Emergency phone: 911

Non-emergency phone: 902 490 5020

Victim Services

Phone: 902 490 5300

Text (for those with hearing impairment): 902 497 4709

Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday


Legal Info Nova Scotia

Legal help for survivors of intimate partner violence

Services et ressources juridiques pour les survivantes de veiolence familiale


211 Nova Scotia

Phone: 211

Text: 211


Independent Legal Advice for Sexual Assault Survivors Program

The Independent Legal Advice (ILA) program provides free, independent legal advice to adult survivors of sexual assault. The program respects survivors’ privacy and their right to make their own decisions. 211 Nova Scotia provides program registration and participants will not be identified to government. Participants don’t have to report to police or take legal action if they use this service.

To access free legal advice, call 211 or email You do not need to provide details about what happened. You only need to say that you were sexually assaulted in Nova Scotia and that you would like to speak with a lawyer.


811 Nova Scotia

Phone: 811 to receive health advice from a registered nurse

Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week


Online & Phone Resources

Healthy Minds NS

Suite of services available to support mental health in postsecondary students including text, phone, and online options.


Good2Talk NS mental health helpline

Phone: 1 833 292 3698

Text: Text Good2TalkNS to 686868


Mobile Crisis Intervention

Phone: 902 429 8167 (local)

Phone: 1 888 429 8167 (toll-free)

Helpline for more immediate mental health concerns.


Hope for Wellness Helpline for Indigenous Peoples

Phone: 1 855 242 3310

Online chat available


Supporting survivors of sexual violence – online course


Changing the Culture of Acceptance


Culture & Perspectives on Sexual Assault Policy (CAPSAP) Project

What can I expect as a respondent?

When someone discloses or reports sexual violence, the person alleged to have committed the act of sexual violence is called the respondent.

Immediate measures will likely be implemented which are meant to deescalate tensions between parties when a disclosure or report is made. They have no bearing on any investigation that will begin after a report is filed. If immediate measures are introduced, you’ll learn the general nature of the allegations.

If you’re a student respondent, the immediate measures will be communicated to you by the Associate Vice-President, Student Experience, Dr. Keltie Jones. They may include, but are not limited to:

  • No contact/communication orders;
  • Class schedule or section changes;
  • Changes in residence location;
  • Restriction of access to parts or all of the MSVU campus;
  • Suspension from an athletic team or club/society membership;
  • Suspension from MSVU.

If you’re an MSVU employee, immediate measures will be communicated by the Director, Human Resources (staff respondent), Dean (faculty respondent), or University Librarian (librarian respondent). The immediate measures may be similar to the ones for students, such as no contact orders, class schedule or section changes, or restriction from parts or all of campus.

When a report is filed there will be a formal investigation, which will include interviewing you as the respondent and any witnesses or others who may have relevant information. You’ll have an opportunity to respond to allegations verbally or in writing. The investigation will continue even if you refuse to participate. When the investigator finishes, they will submit a confidential report with their findings and recommended actions. The results of the investigation will be communicated to you, along with any disciplinary measures taken if you’re found to have breached MSVU’s policy against sexual violence, by the same person as the immediate measures were. You’ll have a chance to respond to them and/or make remedial measures.

A respondent is entitled to choose a support person who has been trained to act in a confidential advisory capacity throughout this process. The support person will:

  • Provide information to you on the process of immediate measures, reports, investigations, and review of decisions;
  • Act as liaison and provide support and coordination in academic or other accommodations;
  • Assist you in providing information to MSVU in any risk assessment or imposition of immediate measures, and may assist you in requesting a reconsideration of immediate measures;
  • Assist you in preparing a statement or response to any immediate measure or decision from an investigation;
  • Provide information about the confidentiality and privacy and the limits of confidentiality;
  • Arrange for culturally relevant counselling services for you where possible and available.

It is very important to maintain confidentiality and to cooperate with MSVU at all stages of the investigation process. This will help keep the investigation as fair, impartial, and timely as possible. You must also disclose to MSVU any criminal charges laid on you related to the incident. Your support person is meant to assist you with navigating all of this.

Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence

When a disclosure of sexual violence is made, the safety, security, and well-being of the victim/survivor are fundamental considerations. It is important to note there is a difference between disclosing and reporting. Disclosing refers to sharing information about an assault with staff, faculty or a peer. Reporting an assault means there will be an investigation. It is possible to disclose information about an incident without reporting it for the purpose of an investigation.

  • DO believe the victim/survivor.
  • DO tell the victim/survivor that it’s not their fault. Nobody invites sexual violence or wants to be sexually assaulted.
  • DO be aware of myths and misconceptions about sexual violence (for more info, read section below).
  • DO support victims/survivors in responding to and reporting these incidents in a transparent and consistent manner.
  • DO refer the victim/survivor to a hospital, clinic, or doctor that can provide medical help and testing for unplanned pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted infection.
  • DO refer to others in the community who are able to assist further.
  • DO protect the victim/survivor’s confidentiality.
  • DO NOT react with disbelief, disgust or anger at what they tell you.
  • DO NOT give advice (“If I were you, I would…”, “If you don’t charge this guy he will do it again”, “You have to tell the police what happened to you”). This includes sharing your own past experiences with sexual violence.
  • DO NOT insist or coax the survivor into any course of action. If there is a course of action you are legally obliged to take, explain what this is and why.
  • DO NOT demand details about what happened.1

Members of the MSVU community are encouraged to take part in Waves of Change bystander intervention training to learn how to do your part in preventing sexual violence on campus and responding to it.

1Portions of material adapted from Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (n.d.) Dealing with Sexual Disclosures: Creating an emotionally safe response when somebody tells you they have been sexually assaulted.

Myths about Sexual Assault

Myth: Strangers most often commit sexual assault.
Fact: On the contrary, sexual assault is most often committed by someone known to the survivor, such as a family member or relative, friend of the family, trusted neighbour, partner, or roommate – not by strangers.

Myth: People cannot be assaulted by their husbands/wives or boyfriends/girlfriends.
Fact: Under the law, people have the right to say “no” to any form of sex, even in a marriage or dating relationship.

Myth: Survivors of sexual assault “asked for it” by the way they dress or act.
Fact: The idea that survivors “asked for it” is often used by offenders to rationalize their behaviour. It also blames the survivor for the crime, not the offender. Survivors of sexual assault report a wide range of dress and actions at the time of the assault. Any person of any age and physical type, in almost any situation, can be sexually assaulted. If a person is sexually assaulted, it is NOT his/her fault.

Myth: People who commit sexual assault are either mentally ill or sexually starved.
Fact: Sexual assault is about asserting power and control over the victim. Most perpetrators are not mentally ill or sexually starved.

Myth: People of certain races and backgrounds are more likely to commit sexual assault.
Fact: Offenders come from every economic, ethnic, racial, age, and social group. Beliefs that people of colour or working class people are more likely to commit sexual assault are a stereotype rooted in racism and classism. Anyone can commit sexual assault.

Myth: It is only sexual assault if physical violence or weapons are used.
Fact: The Criminal Code definition of sexual assault includes a number of acts ranging from unwanted sexual touching, to sexual violence resulting in wounding, maiming, or endangering the life of the survivor. Many sexual assaults involve verbal pressure, intimidation, intoxication (such as administering drugs without the victim’s consent), and/or threats during an assault.

Myth: Unless physically harmed, a sexual assault survivor will not suffer any long-term effects.
Fact: Any sexual assault can have serious effects on a person’s long-term health and well-being. Survivors often deal with feelings of anger, shame, and fear for many years after the assault. Survivors often also become more cautious and less trusting, affecting their personal relationships.

Myths about Male Sexual Assault1

Myth: Sexual assault of males is a rare occurrence.
Fact: A recent study in Canada (Sexual Offenses Against Children) reports that an estimated one in three boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Also, in one study involving college men ages 19-24, 30% admitted to being victims of sexual assault.2 Both males and females are vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

Myth: Males are less traumatized by sexual violence or do not suffer to the same extent female survivors do.
Fact: After sexual assault or sexual abuse, male survivors are just as likely as female survivors to experience effects from the experience. Just like female survivors, male survivors may experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, suicidal ideations, flashbacks, and difficulty trusting others. Survivors of sexual assault all have very personal reactions to their experiences, but they are all impacted in some way.

Myth: Males are only assaulted and abused by gay men.
Fact: The great majority of perpetrators against men and boys are heterosexual men. The motivation for sexual violence is to gain a sense of control and power over another person, not to achieve sexual satisfaction. Females also commit sexual assault against males.

Myth: Males can protect themselves from being sexually assaulted.
Fact: Males and females alike are vulnerable to sexual assault. Because men are often physically stronger than women, some people mistakenly believe that men should be able to defend themselves. Yet, there are many ways that perpetrators commit sexual assault, and most often, coercion is used. Any person of any size or physical strength can be coerced.

Myth: You can’t sexually assault a man because men always want and are ready for sex.
Fact: Sexual assault is not sex. If a man wants sex, he wants to choose who it is with and what it consists of. Sexual assault is an act of violence that takes away any choice or control the person has. Our society’s expectation that men always want sex can be very damaging to male victims who therefore feel that they “should have wanted” this experience and thus cannot be upset about it.

Myth: Males assaulted by another male are, or become, gay as a result of the sexual assault.
Fact: A person’s sexual orientation does not change as a result of a sexual assault experience. Some victims do feel confused about their sexual orientation after a sexual assault or sexual abuse, particularly if they experienced physical arousal during the assault. For example, if a straight man is sexually assaulted by another men and has an erection during the assault, he may worry that this must mean that he is gay or that he wanted the sexual assault to happen. Yet, it is very common to experience arousal during a sexual assault. This arousal can be a fear response, or it can be because a healthy body usually physically responds to sexual touch, even if the touch is not wanted.


Myth: Men who had an erection while being sexually assaulted enjoyed what happened to them.
Fact: Our bodies are programmed to respond to touch in a certain way. Just as women who are sexually assaulted may lubricate or orgasm, men who are sexually assaulted may have an erection and ejaculate. This does not mean they enjoyed the touch. Instead, it means they have healthy, normal bodies that are responding in a healthy, normal way.

1University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre. “The Male Experience of Sexual Violence.” Available at: 2Volunteer Training Manual, Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton
2Volunteer Training Manual, Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton