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.

A report refers to an official report and more formal process, made to either law enforcement or to the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management or Security Services.
 

Choosing to 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.

Any feeling that a person has following an experience of sexual violence is valid, and reactions and responses to sexual violence differ. Additionally, what a person needs to heal is different, and may or may not include reporting to the university or the police.

There is absolutely no requirement to report in order to access supports at the university or through community organizations. Support is there no matter what.

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.

If you are unsure about whether you want to make a report to police or the university, it is always a good idea to write 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 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.
 

Making a report to the police

Why?

People usually report to the police to pursue criminal charges under the Criminal Code of Canada or to obtain a protection order.

How?

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.

What happens?

The police will take your statement and investigate to determine if there is enough evidence to lay charges.

Other important information

  • 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.
  • At any point in the process you can stop if you do not wish to go further. Just because you started an investigation does not mean you have to continue with it.
  • It is never too late to make a report to the police.
     

Making a report to the university

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.

Why?

People often choose to report to the university to ensure that the university is aware of the allegations and can investigate the matter. 

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 Assault Policy, then a decision will be made about what action to take. 

Where and how?

To make a report to the university, you can connect with the following offices:

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:

When making a report to the OHRCM, you can choose to address your concerns through an informal process 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 OHRCM directly to discuss options that are available to resolve concerns.

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. Examples of actions the university can take can be found in Table 3 of the Student Discipline Bylaw. 
  • 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, Student Advocacy can assist you in writing the complaint. If you are a member of a union, your union representative can assist you. 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.

University of Manitoba Security Services

If you need to report an incident of sexual violence outside of the hours of 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, or if you have an immediate safety concern, you should contact Security Services. When Security Services receives a report of sexual violence, they will refer the matter to the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management and ensure that coordinated support is provided. 

Security Services can be reached the following ways.

For Emergencies:

  • 555 from any university phone 
  • #555 from MTS or Rogers Wireless 
  • 204-474-9341 from all other phones 
  • Any emergency phone on campus 

For Non-Emergencies: 

For more information on Security Services, visit their website.
 

Anonymous and third-party 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. 

To police/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.

Note that 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 Klinic Community Health Centre, Ka Ni Kanichihk Heart Medicine Lodge, and Sage House (Mount Carmel Clinic).
 

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 can 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.

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.