The University of Manitoba recognizes individuals who have been the target of sexual violence have the right to make choices for themselves and have those choices respected. If you choose to report, you have several options. You can choose to report to the police, the university, or both. Whether you choose to report or not, you still have access to support and resources. Many faculty and staff members across our campuses are equipped to receive disclosures of sexual violence, including the staff at the Sexual Violence Resource Centre. We encourage you to contact staff at the Sexual Violence Resource Centre, or talk to another UM employee that you feel comfortable with in order to receive support.
Making a report
Deciding whether or not to report an incident of sexual violence can be difficult. There are many reasons why someone may not want to report, including fear of reprisal, feelings of guilt or shame, fear that they will not be believed, fear about reactions from friends and family, conflicting emotions, and uncertainty or fear about legal or university processes.
There is absolutely no requirement to report in order to access supports at the university or through community organizations. Support is available no matter what.
Choosing to report
Any feeling that a person has following an experience of sexual violence is valid, and reactions and responses to sexual violence differ. Additionally, what each person needs to heal is different, and may or may not include reporting to the university or the police.
Choosing to report to the university or to the police is a very personal decision. Some people choose to report because they find it empowering, it makes them feel that their experience has been acknowledged or they want to prevent it from happening to others. Alternatively, some people choose not to report because they don’t believe they will get the result they want, the university and legal processes can both be lengthy or they do not want to risk experiencing re-traumatization.
What to do if you're unsure
If you are unsure about whether you want to make a report to police or university, you may want to consider writing down as much detail about the incident as soon as you can. This can be helpful if you decide to report later on. You can also have evidence collected and it can be stored indefinitely until you decide what you want to do.
You can always speak with a staff person at the SVRC, the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management, Student Advocacy or your union representative about the process of reporting and university policies without having to make a formal report. They can also advise you on external processes, such as reporting to the police, as well as anonymous or third-party reporting.
Ultimately, deciding whether or not to report sexual violence is your choice. There is no right answer to whether or not to report — it always comes down to what is best for you.
What is the difference between a disclosure and a report?
A disclosure is different than a report. A disclosure is when you share your story with anyone who you feel comfortable with. This can include, for example: friends, family, co-workers, a trusted instructor, counsellor, chaplain, doctor and many others.
Reporting to the police
People usually report to the police to pursue criminal charges under the Criminal Code of Canada or to obtain a protection order.
You can contact the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) or Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) directly, or access the WPS through the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program within the City of Winnipeg. SVRC staff are available for support throughout this process.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police:
Contact local detachment office.
What to expect when reporting to the police
The police will take your statement and investigate to determine if there is enough evidence to lay charges.
If the assault has recently occurred, it is helpful to attempt to preserve evidence if you wish to have a forensic exam (e.g., refrain from changing your clothes, showering, eating or brushing your teeth). You do not have to have a forensic exam to make a report to the police.
It is never too late to make a report to the police.
Reporting to the university
People often choose to report to the university to ensure the university is aware of the allegations and can investigate the matter.
What to expect
Staff at the SVRC can assist you with deciding whether you want to report, and if so who you choose to report to. Making a report to the university is different than making a report to the police. The university does not do criminal investigations or lay criminal charges. The purpose of an investigation is to determine if there has been a breach of university policy. If there has been a breach to either the Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy or Sexual Violence Policy, then a decision will be made about what action to take.
To make a report to the University, you need to connect with the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management or Security Services.
Reporting to the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management
All formal complaints about sexual violence and investigations of formal complaints are conducted through the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management (OHRCM). You can contact the OHRCM:
- By calling: 204-474-6348 (confidential voicemail)
- By e-mailing: Human.Rights@umanitoba.ca; or
- Through the Sexual Violence Resource Centre.
When making a report to the OHRCM, you can choose to address your concerns through an informal process (informal resolution) or by making a formal complaint.
Informal Resolutions are an option available to individuals who do not wish to pursue a formal complaint but would still like to seek a solution. Please contact the SVRC or OHRCM directly to discuss options.
A formal complaint must be submitted in writing to the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management. If you submit a formal complaint, it may proceed to an investigation. If the investigation has found that a breach of policy has occurred, disciplinary action will be taken.
- Disciplinary action for students will be made in accordance with the Student Discipline Bylaw (PDF). Examples of actions the university can take can be found in Table 3 of the Student Discipline Bylaw (PDF).
- Disciplinary action for employees will be made in line with legislation or laws that apply, collective agreements, and university policies, procedures or bylaws.
If you are a student, the SVRC or Student Advocacy can assist you in writing the complaint. If you are staff or faculty, the SVRC can assist you, or you may have access to a union representative. All students, staff and faculty can contact the OHRCM directly.
For more information on formal complaints, informal resolutions and other helpful resources including templates and guides, visit the OHRCM website.
Reporting to Security Services
If you have an immediate safety concern, you can contact Security Services. When Security Services receives a report of sexual violence, they will refer the matter to the SVRC and ensure that coordinated support is provided.
Security Services can be reached the following ways:
- 555 from any university phone
- #555 from MTS or Rogers Wireless
- 204-474-9341 from all other phones
- Any emergency phone on campus
Anonymous third-party reporting
Anonymous reporting to the university
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, the University of Manitoba has an anonymous online reporting system called Silent Observer. It allows anyone to anonymously notify Security Services of an incident.
The Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management also accepts anonymous or third-party complaints, but may be limited in the action they can take regarding investigations and other processes. SVRC staff can help with this process.
Anonymous reporting to the police or other external bodies
The Winnipeg Police Service, in partnership with community organizations, offers an option for anonymous third-party reporting. Third-party reporting allows a survivor to report an assault to a community organization, which will pass the report on to Winnipeg Police or the RCMP. After information is passed to police, if the police want to speak with the survivor they will contact the community organization first, who will then contact the survivor, allowing them to decide whether or not they want to speak to the police.
Please note: complete confidentiality cannot be guaranteed if the offender is an intimate partner, or if there is child abuse involved.
Community organizations who offer anonymous third-party reporting include:
Confidentiality and reporting
Respecting autonomy and confidentiality
Confidentiality is very important when deciding to come forward and disclose an incident of sexual violence to someone. At the University of Manitoba, we understand that keeping information confidential can be a large factor in whether or not a person chooses to disclose, and we respect community member’s experiences and desire for autonomy.
Everyone should expect to be treated with respect and understanding when making a disclosure at the University of Manitoba. Supports and resources are available regardless of whether or not someone chooses to formally report an incident of sexual violence.
There is no obligation to formally report an experience in order to receive support.
Limits to confidentiality
We will make every effort to respect confidentiality and ask for consent before acting on information that is provided to us. However, there are times when complete confidentiality cannot be assured. These may include:
- When we believe that a person is a danger to themselves or to others;
- When a person involved is a minor (under 18 years old) or is a vulnerable person; and
- When there is reason to believe that the safety of the university community is at risk.
If one of these situations occurs, the University of Manitoba must alert the appropriate authorities. This may include disclosing information to facilitate an investigation, offering coordinated support, ensuring safety planning or taking corrective action.
University instituted investigations
The University of Manitoba may initiate an investigation (called a University Instituted Investigation, or UII) and/or report the incident of sexual violence to local police services, even without the consent of the survivor, if it believes that the safety of the university community is at risk or if reporting is required by law.
In this case, reasonable efforts will be made to preserve the anonymity of the person who disclosed. If the university decides to take any action, they will notify the person who disclosed and work with them to take any additional safety precautions that may be necessary.
Confidentiality when receiving a disclosure
Community members who receive a disclosure of sexual violence may also themselves be confused about what information they must share and with whom. Community members are encouraged to consult with the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management or Sexual Violence Resource Centre.
There is no need to reveal identifying information in order to consult.
A person who discloses their experience to anyone at the University of Manitoba can expect to be treated with respect at all times. Services and supports are always available.
UM students, staff and community members who are seeking information on sexual violence, or who are seeking support regarding an experience of sexual violence are encouraged to contact SVRC staff.