In September, a position was created at Laurier to provide support to students who have experienced sexual violence. Sarah Scanlon is Laurier’s sexual support advocate and counsellor. Scanlon is available one day a week on the Brantford Campus.
Laurier created this position because the university recognizes that sexual violence is a very serious issue and acknowledges the ways in which it can disempower and alienate survivors. One in five women will experience sexual violence while in university, and this statistic is probably much higher as many cases go unreported.
Scanlon is here to support all survivors of sexual assault, including men, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people who are providing support for a survivor, and individuals who have caused sexual violence. She’s also available to provide support to people who have historic experiences of sexual violence. It’s never too late to seek help.
“Students cannot learn in an atmosphere where they do not feel safe,” said Scanlon.
“[Victims of gendered violence] need support and they need to be heard and believed. You don’t have to do this alone. There are people here, like myself, that can provide support in a non-judgemental way.”
Scanlon has over a decade of experience with both people who have experienced sexual violence and perpetrators of sexual violence. She has worked in a variety of settings including women’s shelters, universities and correctional facilities.
Scanlon is available to help with any of the following: safety planning, referrals to counselling and medical services, understanding the on and off-campus complaint options available, academic and campus accommodations, navigating systems and resources within the university and the broader community, and supporting communications between survivors and the university.
Through a partnership with the Sexual Assault Centre of Brant, Laurier Brantford students can also receive support from sexual violence counsellor and advocate Hayley Moody. She is available thirty hours per week and can provide one-on-one or group counselling, as well as accompaniment to community agencies and assistance in navigating university processes and policies. She strongly emphasizes that students will never be pressured to take a particular course of action.
The Sexual Assault Centre of Brant also offers a 24/7 crisis and support line for people in need of support outside of office hours. Trained professionals will answer your call if you are in a time of crisis or just need someone to talk to.
To further combat the issue of sexual violence, a group of Laurier students created a collective called Advocates for a Student Culture of Consent (ASCC). Brittany Bennett, Taylor Berzins*, Layla Bozich, Karly Rath, Nadine Saba and Neha Soni created ASCC to speak out about rape culture on campus, which includes victim-blaming.
On the Feb. 13, Advocates for a Student Culture of Consent will be handing out consent-centric, non-heteronormative, and self-love themed DIY valentine’s, alongside their consent resources, some Valentine’s Day treats, condoms, and dental dams in their second annual Crushin’ Booth.
Sarah Scanlon can be reached at the Brantford campus at the Diversity and Equity Office, 95 Darling Street, St. Andrew’s Community Centre, Office 300 (second floor). When not in Brantford, she is in Waterloo, but available to Brantford students at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-884-0710, extension 4847.
Hayley Moody can be contacted at email@example.com or 519-751-1164, extension 209.
The Sexual Assault Centre of Brant can be reached at 519-751-3471.
*Taylor Berzins is the Human Resources Manager for WLU Student Publications.
This article was edited for clarity on February 8, 2017. Additional edits were made March 16, 2017.