Responding to Disclosures on Campus

Glossary of Terms

Accommodation: The Ontario Human Rights Commission defines accommodation as “a means of preventing and removing barriers that impede students with disabilities from participating fully in the educational environment in a way that is responsive to their own unique circumstances. The principle of accommodation involves three factors: dignity, individualization and inclusion.” For the purpose of this training, the term accommodation is not limited to those experiencing disability but refers to all students who experience barriers to participating fully in the educational environment as a result of experiencing sexual violence. 

Acquaintance Sexual Assault: Acquaintance sexual assault, sometimes called “date rape,” is sexual contact that is forced, manipulated, or coerced by a partner, friend, or acquaintance.

Bystander: For the purposes of sexual violence prevention, a bystander is anyone who is neither a victim nor an offender, but who could potentially get involved to make a difference. It refers to anyone who is in a position to intervene before, during or after the act. Several Universities and Colleges in Ontario have adopted a student focused Upstander training.

Campus Climate: A campus climate may be defined as the sum total of all of the personal relationships and social norms within a school. When these relationships are founded in mutual acceptance and inclusion and modeled by all, a culture of respect becomes the norm. A situation that disrupts or negatively affects the culture of respect on campus can be considered to be one that negatively impacts the campus climate.

Cisgender or Cis: Someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.

Consent: Consent is the voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question.

Cyber Harassment/Cyber Stalking: Often used interchangeably, cyber harassment and cyber stalking are defined as repeated, unsolicited, threatening behaviour by a person or group using cell phone or Internet technology with the intent to bully, harass, and intimidate a victim. The harassment can take place in any electronic environment where communication with others is possible, such as on social networking sites, on message boards, in chat rooms, through text messages, or through email.

Cybermisogyny: “Cyber misogony refers to the various forms of gendered hatred, harassment, and abusive behavious targeted at women and girls via the internet. It draws attention to the discriminatory nature of this behaviour, which occurs within a context of power and marginalization. In this way, cyber misogony is a more nuanced term than the more general “cyberbullying”…technology therefore facilitates the proliferation of gendered hate and harassment”. Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children

Date Rape: The term “date rape” is interchangeable with “acquaintance sexual assault”. It is sexual contact that is forced, manipulated, or coerced by a partner, friend or acquaintance.

Disclosure: For the purposes of this training, a disclosure is made to any individual other than the police or other judicial official.

Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault: Drug-facilitated sexual assault involves the perpetrator making use of alcohol and/or drugs (prescription or non-prescription) to control, overpower or subdue a victim for purposes of sexual assault.

Ego Entered (or Egocentric): For the purposes of this training, an ego centered response is characterized by a responder focusing more on their own feelings or priorities than those of the survivor.

Gender Expression: How a person chooses to outwardly express their gender. A person who does not confirm to societal expectations of gender may not, however, identify as trans.

Gender Identity: A person’s innate sense of their own gender which may or may not correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth. This is fundamentally different from, and not determinative of, sexual orientation. 

Gender-Based Violence and Harassment: Gender-based violence and harassment – including psychological, physical, and sexual behaviours — is based on an individual’s gender and is intended to control, humiliate, or harm the individual. This form of harassment reinforces heteronormative gender roles and reflects an attitude or prejudice at the individual or institutional level that aims to subordinate or bully an individual or group on the basis of sex and/or gender identity.

Homophobia: The fear or dislike of someone, based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about lesbian, gay or bi people. Homophobic bullying may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be, lesbian, gay or bi-sexual.

Intersectionality: Intersectionality is defined by the Ontario Human Rights Commission as “multiple forms of discrimination occurring simultaneously.” An intersectional analysis recognizes that each individual will experience sexual violence differently based on compounding forms of discrimination, such as their gender identity, culture, race, language, disability, Deafness, religion, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and others. These intersecting identities may leave some groups more vulnerable to sexual violence, and will inform what services a survivor will seek.

Mental Health: Can be defined as: “The capacities of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections, and personal dignity” (Government of Canada, 2006). Keyes (2002) conceptualizes health and illness as “separate continuums wherein a student with mental illness may flourish and conversely, someone without mental illness may languish with less than optimal health” in Post Secondary Student Mental Health: Guide to a Systemic Approach, Canadian Association of College & University Student Services and Canadian Mental Health Association, 2013.

Prosocial: Prosocial refers to a set of behaviours that are helping, sharing and co-operative. Prosocial people are known for obeying rules, conforming to socially accepted behaviours, putting others before themselves and demonstrating reciprocity in interpersonal and group relationships.

Racism: Race is a social construct. The process of social construction of race is called racialization: “the process by which societies construct races different and unequal in ways that matter to economic, political and social life [ … ] and which has the which has the effect of imposing burdens on an individual or group (people of Colour) which is not imposed upon others.”  (OHRC). Anti-black racism: is a pervasive form of racial discrimination directed at people of African descent. The province of Ontario has recently developed anti-black racism strategy.

Rape: Rape is a term used to describe vaginal, oral or anal intercourse, without consent. Although no longer used in a legal sense in Canada, it is still commonly used and widely understood.

Rape Myths: Rape myths complicate society’s understanding of sexual assault. These myths blame or shame the survivor of sexual assault, instead of holding the perpetrator responsible for his actions.

Reprisal: Students and employees in Ontario’s colleges and universities are protected from reprisal after making a complaint of sexual violence. Reprisal consists retaliation, threats, intimidation, dismissal or discipline as a result of disclosing or reporting sexual violence.

Re-victimization: Because sexual violence is so common, most survivors of sexual violence have had more than one instance of assault or abuse. Re-victimization refers to subsequent experiences of harm. Survivors also experience re-victimization by the systems they endure when disclosing, accessing support, and seeking justice. Educational, financial, civil and criminal courts, and health systems have numerous processes and interpersonal ineffectiveness that recreate the blame, powerlessness, and humiliation inflicted by the initial attack. Law enforcement and security officers, faculty and financial staff, the media, clergy, lawyers, judges, and medical and mental health professionals can all cause secondary injuries by requiring survivors to tell and retell the experience multiple times, and tolerate insensitivity, minimizing and victim-blaming questions.

Safety Planning: Safety plans can help promote ongoing safety and prevent future incidents for survivors. A safety plan should be personalized, practical and be survivor led in its development. It can include building a network of supports and crisis contacts, planning what to do when a class, residence, athletic, study or parking area can be accessed by the accused, or actions the survivor can take in the event of an immediate physical or emotional threat. Safety plans should be reviewed on a regular basis.

Self-centered: The research refers to this as ego-centered or ego-centric. A self centered response is characterized by the responder focusing more on their own feelings or priorities than those of the survivor.

Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is any type of unwanted sexual act done by one person to another that violates the sexual integrity of the victim. Sexual assault is characterized by a broad range of behaviours that involve the use of force, threats, or control towards a person, which makes that person feel uncomfortable, distressed, frightened, threatened, carried out in circumstances in which the person has not freely agreed, consented to, or is incapable of consenting to. (Criminal Code of Canada)

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual attention directed at an individual by someone whose conduct or comments are, or should reasonably be known to be, offensive, inappropriate, intimidating, hostile, and unwelcome. Sexual harassment often occurs in environments in which sexist or homophobic jokes and materials have been allowed. (OHRC)

Sexual Violence: Sexual violence is a broad term that describes any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality. This violence takes different forms including sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, incest, childhood sexual abuse and rape during armed conflict. It also includes sexual harassment, stalking, indecent or sexualized exposure, degrading sexual imagery, voyeurism, cyber harassment, human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Survivor: It is up to those who have experienced violence to decide what terms to use to describe themselves. The term survivor vs victim is used in this training to focus on the agency and resiliency of survivors of violence. Rahila Gupta argues that the term ‘victim’ needs to be reclaimed by feminist politics; whilst ‘survivor’ is important because it recognises the agency of women, it focuses on individual capacity, but the notion of ‘victim’ reminds us of the stranglehold of the system.

Stalking: Repeated and unwanted attention that causes fear for personal safety or the safety of someone else. Stalking behaviours include unwanted communication (repeated, silent and obscene phone calls, unwanted email, text and social media messages, and unwanted letters, gifts and cards) – and   following, watching and threatening behaviours (persistently asking for a date, posting unwanted information on social media, intimidating or threatening someone close, attempting to intimidate or threaten by hurting pets, and attempting to intimidate or threaten by damaging property).

From Statistics Canada, available at:

Transphobia: The fear or dislike of someone based on the fact they are trans (or non-binary, genderqueer), including the denial/refusal to accept their gender identity.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Inclusive Design: Aims to remove the barriers that create undue effort and separation for learners. It enables all students to participate fully in the learning environment. It meets Ontario’s AODA standards also takes into account barriers and   based on social disadvantages rooted in racism, sexism, cis-sexism, classism, ableism, and exclusion based on mental health status.

Victim Blaming: Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or an accident is held responsible — in whole or in part — for the crimes that have been committed against them.

This glossary is excerpted and revised from: Developing a Response to Sexual Violence: A Resource Guide For Ontario’s Colleges and Universities, Province of Ontario, Ministry of the Status of Women, available at: