Our support services are totally non-judgmental and confidential, and available to anyone who has experienced violence, anyone who has caused harm, and anyone who has supported someone who has experienced violence or caused harm.

We can provide you with emotional support, information about services on and off campus, and help in connecting with the services that might be right for you. We have a team of trained volunteers who provide support as well as staff members.

Get in touch with us by dropping in, scheduling an appointment, or sending us an email.

Current support hours

Drop-in hours:

  • Mondays, 10:00am to 1:00pm
  • Tuesdays, 11:15am to 1:30pm
  • Wednesdays, 11:30am to 1:30pm; 1:30 to 3:00pm on Nov 27th, Dec 11th
  • Thursdays, 10:00am to 1:00pm

Support is also available by appointment during and outside these drop-in hours.

To book an appointment:

Call: 250-721-8080
Email:
Drop by: UVic Student Union Building, Basement B027

If you are in need of immediate assistance, please contact the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888 or visit our list of crisis contacts.

We support everyone

Our services are available for:

  • All genders and identities, including trans, genderqueer, 2spirit, and gender non-conforming people
  • All members of the campus community and surrounding areas, including students, staff, and faculty

You can access services regardless of your immigration status. We believe in access, not fear, and so will never ask your immigration or documentation status.

We also realize that the campus can be inaccessible so please let us know how we can better support you if coming to the campus is a barrier. We don’t require student identification or your personal information and you can access services anonymously if you wish.

Learn more about our support staff.

Location & Accessibility

UVSS Student Union Building (basement)
Office: room B027
Support space: room B024

Elevator: The elevator to the Student Union Building basement is located down the hall from the Cinecenta entrance (by the bus loop). From the basement elevator doors, our office and support space are a short walk down the hall, marked by signs.

Washrooms: There are 2 accessible multi-stall gender inclusive washrooms down the hall from AVP. There is also a single-stall washroom in the UVic Pride space further down the hall.

Scents: We do our best to maintain AVP as a scent-free space. Please support us in this by not wearing scented products while accessing our services.

Please let us know if you have any accessibility concerns. We are happy to arrange the support space to accommodate all bodies and needs.

Learn more about accessing our support space.

We support people who have experienced any kind of violence. You don’t have to identify or use labels like “survivor,” “victim,” or “witness” to use our services.

We believe you. You didn’t do anything to ask for or deserve this and it was not your fault. However you reacted, resisted, responded, nobody deserves to be treated violently or to be subjected to witnessing violence.

We support people who are dealing with violence at any time in their life–including violence in a current relationship, violence that happened in a past relationship, or violence that happened a long time ago.

If violence is happening to you now, we will explore ways that you can protect yourself and get immediate help if you need it. Whenever the violence happened, we are here to support you to deal with what it is bringing up for you right now. You deserve and have the right to seek healing, when you want it and in ways that feel right to you. All support should be led by you and respect your wants and needs.

There is no right or wrong way to react to violence. There is a very wide range of responses and they are all normal. However you respond is what is right for you and your body – there is no right or wrong way for you or your body to react. Your reaction may be similar to, or totally different from, someone else’s, and it might change over time. The following is a list of some reactions and impacts people experience. This is not a complete list, nor is it necessarily a linear process – there isn’t a set start or end point. Although you might experience some of these things now, it doesn’t mean that you will always experience them. If you are experiencing any of these, or something totally different, we are here for you.

restlessness  * disruption of routine  * gastrointestinal issues  * numbing via drugs/alcohol/tv/food/sex/etc  * crying * lethargy * self-harm * shaking  * smiling * sobbing * infection * pain *  vaginal discharge * headaches * disruption of menstrual cycle  * soreness and/or bruising * nightmares * flashbacks * fatigue  * insomnia * change phone # * move * headaches * backaches *  trouble eating * restlessness * can’t engage in self-care * avoiding people, places, and things related to the event  * nausea * quit school/job * increase/decrease in appetite * easily startled * social withdrawal * confusion * disbelief  * side effects from anti-pregnancy and other medications * tension * feeling detached * flashbacks * dissociation * blaming yourself  * constantly alert * disturbing dreams * being withdrawn * being (extra) controlling * difficulty trusting people * negative views of the world  * memory loss * fear * humiliation * degradation * shame * inability to concentrate * embarrassment * anxiety * guilt * panic attacks * shock  * loss of pleasure * dread * depression * sadness * outbursts of anger * hypervigilance * grief * mood swings * feeling dirty * feeling abandoned *  agitation * phobias * feeling edgy * outbursts of anger * loss of hope * intensity of pre-existing mental health challenges * disinterest * feeling helpless  * feeling rejected * loss of interconnectedness * loss of faith

Thoughts like:

“I feel like I did something to make this happen. If only I had…”

“I feel so dirty”        “Did it really happen?”      “Why me?”

“No, I can’t tell my family. My parents are going to be so mad”

At AVP we support survivors seeking out justice in ways that fit for them. We take a neutral position on reporting (to UVic, an agency, police, etc.) — we don’t push survivors to report, and we recognize that there are many reasons why people might not want to report or might feel ambivalent about reporting, while for other survivors reporting violence feels important. If you want to explore the possibility of reporting, we are happy to help you access information so you know what your option are, what reporting might involve, and support you through the process of making a report.

If you are supporting a loved one who has experienced violence, we’re here for you too! It can be hard to see a loved one suffering as a result of violence, and also listening to someone share their story can bring up a lot of feelings and be overwhelming (sometimes this is called secondary trauma).

You can access our services if you need support yourself, if you are struggling with boundaries, if you want to learn more about providing support, or to help find information and resources to share with your loved one.

When you’re supporting a loved one around their experience of violence:

  • Listen to what they are telling you and take them seriously.
  • Believe them — people rarely make up stories about violence. It can be very frightening to think about not being believed so it is important that your friend know that you believe them.
  • Let them know you care. If you are having a hard time thinking of something to say, you might want to try saying something like, “I’m so sorry this happened to you,” or “I’m glad you could share this with me.” Do not blame, second-guess, or ask them lots of questions.
  • Let them tell you as much or as little as they feel comfortable with. You don’t need to ask for specific details, names, or more information than they offer. Prying questions could make it seem that you are doubting them.
  • Reassure them that it is not their fault. No one deserves to experience violence.
  • Everyone resists violence in different ways. Sometimes not doing something is resisting violence. Let your loved one know that whatever they did was what they needed to at the time. Avoid questions like, “Why didn’t you say no” or “Why didn’t you fight back?”. For more information, see our link about resistance
  • Let them be in control of what they want to do next. This is especially important as they may feel that power and control has been taken away or used against them as a result of the violence. Help them feel more in control of their life by unconditionally supporting their decisions. Also be aware that after experiencing violence some people struggle with feeling overwhelmed by decisions and your loved one may want you to help by making decisions about everyday things like what to eat, what to wear, etc.
  • Let them know that they are not alone in what they’re going through. Many survivors feel that they are the only one this has happened to and may feel their reactions are abnormal or mean that they are not coping well.
  • There is no right or wrong way to react to violence; there is a very wide range of responses and they are all normal. However your loved one is responding is what is right for them and their body and you can help them by normalizing what is happening and reassuring them. You may want to check out our [link]zine on common reactions and impacts of experiencing violence.
  • You can offer to come with them to AVP or another community organization for support and information.
  • It’s really important that you take care of yourself too. Hearing about violence can be difficult for the supporter so be sure to access support for yourself too if you need it.

If you want, check out UBUNTU’s fantastic zine, Supporting a Survivor of Sexual Assault

Join us for a free workshop designed to help you support survivors of violence. Our workshops are free of charge and open to everyone.

Supporting a Survivor

Boundaries are important in daily life, they enable us to support each other without sacrificing ourselves. Boundaries are an important part of self-care and also an important part of community care. It helps the survivor if you only do support for them when you’re actually up for it — otherwise you can accidentally cause more harm. Almost always you are not the only option, there are other resources a survivor can access (survivors are super strong and creative!) including AVP as well as crisis services. You taking care of your boundaries also strengthens consent culture by practicing skills like checking in with yourself and saying “no” or “not right now” if that’s what you need. There is also evidence that having appropriate boundaries helps the person you are helping, by increasing your ability to feel empathy while preventing “emotion contagion”.

Capacity to provide support, and your boundaries around what you can and can’t provide support on, can change depending on the day and even on the moment. Here are some signs that people in your life might not be listening to your boundaries, that you are having trouble setting boundaries, and/or that you’re not listening to your own boundaries:

  • Pretending to agree when you disagree
  • Concealing your true feelings
  • Going along with an activity you don’t want to do without stating your preference, or declining to join an activity you really want to do
  • Pushing yourself beyond your limits (though you might not recognize it in the moment)
  • Working too long
  • Working too hard and doing too much for others
  • Ignoring your needs (e.g., water, food, sleep) if the person you’re with isn’t ready for or doesn’t want/need those things
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Too little or too much time alone
  • Too much or too little exercise
  • Insufficient contact with people you like to be around
  • Using compulsions to avoid yourself
  • Always deferring to someone else
  • You’re fearful of what others will think if you speak up
  • You stay in relationships when you don’t want to
  • Believing that your boundaries are never allowed to change or that you’re not allowed to change your mind

If you’re struggling with boundaries, that’s OK!  Many people were socialized not to listen to themselves and/or taught that their boundaries aren’t important. You’re not a ‘bad’ or ‘weak’ person if you don’t know how to set boundaries that get respected – you’re actually pretty normal. Like consent, we’re not supposed to know how (especially when identity is taken into account) because disconnection from our feelings is a key part of what upholds our current structures of power and privilege.

AVP is working towards returning to a culture where we can practice consent with ourselves and have everyone, including ourselves, respect our boundaries. Learning to check in with ourselves, listen to what our body/mind/heart/spirit is telling us, and then set boundaries based on that can be really hard and incredibly rewarding. We are here to help if you are struggling with this.

More resources on boundaries:

Have you caused harm to someone else? Has someone told you that you violated their boundaries or hurt them? Have you reflected on your actions and realized that you may have been violent towards someone?

It can be very difficult to confront the truth about hurting someone, or to begin to do the work of looking within oneself at the ways in which we’ve caused harm. But this is very important work, for if violence is going to end, we need to find ways to look at the harm that we’ve done and support this kind of work to happen.

At AVP we often say that “everyone is capable of causing harm”, and this includes ourselves. We’ve all caused harm in the past by not engaging in consent practices or listening to people’s boundaries, and we’ll probably do it again because humans are imperfect, messy creatures that make a lot of assumptions. Interacting with each other, especially in vulnerable ways, comes with risk. Although usually unintentional, we hurt each other often. And we have been trained to do this.

In this current society we are taught entitlement to bodies from a very young age. For example, a relative can pick you up, hug you, or pinch your cheeks – even if that’s not what you want. Colonization is premised on settlers feeling entitled to take Indigenous bodies, lands, resources, and culture without consent. Every “ism” or form of oppression is based on non-consensual hierarchies where one group is devalued and exploited for the benefit of another. Many people go their whole lives without learning about consent.

We believe that everyone gets a chance to learn, unlearn, and be accountable. So we work with people who have caused harm, to unlearn violent behaviours and thoughts. In doing this work we focus on learning about consent and improving consent practices. This doesn’t mean excusing your behaviours or actions, but finding out where you are at in your learning journey, exploring if you are willing to look at your actions, and if so, helping you to (un)learn more. Causing harm doesn’t make us (or you) “bad”, but does mean we need to do unlearning, work on repairing our relationships, and figure out some accountability for the harm we have caused. If that’s work you are willing to do too, we’re here to support you in that work.

  • We will not shame or judge you for not knowing about consent, as judgment, shame, and stigma do not foster conditions for learning and unlearning.
  • We affirm that everyone has inherent worth and dignity, and do not dispose of anyone for not knowing about consent.
  • We believe that everyone accessing AVP can learn, unlearn, and improve. We will work with you to understand what led to causing harm, develop constructive strategies and solutions, practice everyday acts of consent, and celebrate positive shifts and successes.
  • Support and accountability go together. As part of supporting you, we will work with you to identify ways you can be accountable for the harms you have caused. You will be expected to take action and to commit time and energy in both support and accountability work.
  • If we are also supporting the person / people who you have harmed, we will be creative in finding a way to do that which works for everyone, for example arranging for support sessions outside the AVP office or having different staff/volunteers do support.

Often when people have caused harm, they are afraid that if they’re honest about it they’ll be shunned by the people around them. In some instances disclosing that you have caused harm does mean losing relationships, work, power, etc. Additionally in some instances the person / people who you’ve harmed may ask you to stay away from them and that may mean dealing with a lot of complexities if you are in school together, work together, socialize in the same circles, etc.

As part of accountability you may need to shift how you participate in community. But we still highly encourage community connection, as isolation, secrecy, and marginalization are not conducive to learning, unlearning, and getting to practice consent — after all, consent is relational. We can work with people who are committed to supporting you in your healing (a circle of friends, fraternity or club you’re part of, etc.,) to also learn about consent, help you practice, and be there for you as you work through feelings that come up around having caused harm. If you are a man/masculine-identified, AVP is involved in a Men’s Circle on campus that aims to challenge gender-based violence and dominant constructions of masculinity, and that also provides a positive space for connecting with other men/masculine people who are committed to consent culture.

Additional resources

Please see our Resources for more information and links about online, local and on- and off-campus resources for support, healing, information, advocacy and action.

We have a number of handouts and pamphlets that are available to download and print. You can also access these at our office or by contacting us.