Our Guiding Principles
Survivor-Centric and Trauma-Informed Approach
A survivor-centric and trauma-informed approach is the central piece in our efforts to address sexual violence on our campus.
Survivor-centric means that we centre the desires of survivors throughout the process. We know that some of you have had experiences before coming to the University. While we hope this isn’t the case, we also know that some of you may have experiences of sexual misconduct while you are here. Our approach to this work focuses on survivors - what survivors want from our programming, how they interact with our programming, how we can be the most supportive and foster the most supportive environment for together.
Trauma-informed means that we based all of our efforts on what we know about trauma. We look to the literature - from neurobiology to psychology to anthropology and sociology. We think about how trauma manifests and is experienced, and what the range of outcomes looks like. We aim to foster a broader understanding of trauma amongst those who may respond to a disclosure, or who may be providing support.
Combatting Rape Culture
When conceptualizing how the issue of sexual misconduct exists in our communities, it’s important that we think about rape culture.
Rape culture is the idea that rape-supportive ideas and behaviours exist throughout our culture - our norms for how we behave, our expectations of others. Think about the example of a rape joke - what we think is funny and what we are willing to laugh about speaks to the larger ideas that we hold about sexual violence. By acknowledging that rape culture exists (in Canada, in Windsor, on our campus) we can begin to address it through a variety of strategies. We’re looking at long-term social change efforts here.
We think about rape culture using Galtung’s Tripartite Model. This model covers direct violence (violence occurring between individuals), cultural violence (our norms and social expectations), and structural violence (the structures in our society and institution).
Gender-Sensitive vs Gender-Inclusive
In our work to end campus-based sexual violence, we are often asked if our work is inclusive. Do we address sexual violence that happens to men? Trans folks?
We’d like to share the two perspectives we apply to this work - a gender-sensitive lens and a gender-inclusive lens. We use both of these lenses to address and mitigate sexual violence on our campus and in our UWindsor community.
It is important that we use a gender-inclusive lens in our work. A gender-inclusive lens reflects the fact that people of all genders experience sexual violence. It is our goal to reflect the identities and experiences of women, men, transgender, and non-binary folks in our efforts to address sexual violence on our campus.
A gender-sensitive lens addresses sexual violence as a form of gender-based violence (or, violence enacted on the basis of gender). The broad umbrella of gender-based violence includes violence against women and girls. This lens uses a social constructionist approach - understanding that gender, gender norms and expectations, and sexual violence are thing we know about through socially constructed and shared ideas.
Yes - people of all genders experience sexual violence. However, there are specific trends we see in the issue of sexual violence, through the research data and surveys like Statistics Canada. Women experience higher rates of sexual violence Sexual violence affects a significant percentage of women - 1 in 5 women will experience an attempted or completed sexual assault by the time they complete their undergraduate degree. Transgender women are also at a higher risk for sexual violence, when compared to cis-gender women. Sexual violence is predominantly perpetrated by men - regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of the victim. Men are the perpetrators of sexual violence in the vast majority of cases. For bisexual and lesbian women, the most likely perpetrator of sexual violence is a man. It is our goal to strategically tackle these systemic issues through our work.
Intersectionality is the idea that multiple forms of oppression and discrimination are intertwined.
None of us have just one form of identity - we all have a gender identity, a sexuality, a racial identity, and more. These identities intersect - they interact and relate to each other. For example, a white woman and a Black woman may share similar experiences of sexism and misogyny. However, some of what they experience might differ on the basis of race. A Black woman may experience sexual harassment that also has racist tones.
We want to ensure that we are able to view experiences from a nuanced perspective - taking into account all of the factors that may be in play.
Consent Culture & A Sex Positive Approach
We believe that teaching about sex and consent is a piece of the larger puzzle to ending sexual violence.
By fostering a consent culture we can counter rape culture. Essentially, we want to build norms and expectations for sex that is fun, enjoyable, comfortable, safe, desired, and consensual. We can do this through talking about sex and consent with a sex-positive approach. This approach centres on talking about sex in a positive way - removing shame and stigma from the conversation. Sex positive means you can have as much sex or as little sex as you want - it’s all about what you desire. Sex positive also means the freedom to say “yes!” to sex we do want, and the freedom to say “no!” to sex we don’t want. It also means being able to say “I don’t know” or “maybe later” and to be able to respond supportively to all of these responses. Sex positive means the information is readily available - if you want to learn more, we’re here for you! If you don’t want to learn about sex - that’s ok too.
- Our Turn - A National, Student-Led Action Plan to End Campus Sexual Violence (2020)
- SARE Centre Infographic