Frequently Asked Questions
How does REES work?
About Sexual Violence
Who can use REES?
From November 25 to December 10, during the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-based Violence, REES has made Anonymous Reporting available to survivors at post-secondary institutions across the world. After December 10 you will still be able to access your record and print it. If your campus becomes a REES campus partner, you will be able to migrate your account over to your institution.
REES is intended for an individual to Record and/or Report their own experience of campus-related sexual violence. You cannot report something that you witnessed or that has happened to someone else.Back to top
Can I change my username?
No. Once you have created an account you cannot change your username.Back to top
Can I change my password?
No. You cannot change your password. This is a security feature of the platform. It is important to use a password that you will remember. You will not be able to log in to your account without it.Back to top
Can I change my passphrase?
No. You have to use the same passphrase each time you access the Record that it was created with. If you create a new Record you can use the same passphrase or use a new one. It is important to use a passphrase that you will remember. You will not be able to edit, delete, or report without it.Back to top
Can I retrieve a forgotten password or passphrase?
No. You cannot retrieve your password or passphrase. This is a security feature of the platform. It is important to use a password/passphrase that you will remember. You will not be able to log in to your account or send a Report without it.Back to top
How long is my Record saved for?
All Records will be saved in REES for 10 years unless you choose to delete the Record or Account.Back to top
Can I edit or delete a Record?
Yes. Log in and go to My Account. Choose the Record you want to delete and click Delete.Back to top
Can I create multiple Records?
Yes. You can create multiple Records of different incidences in your account.Back to top
Can I print my Record?
Yes. This option is available at My Account.Back to top
Can I permanently delete my account?
Yes. Go to Settings and select Delete My Account. When you delete your account any Records you have created are permanently deleted. This action cannot be reversed.
Because REES does not link any account information to Anonymous Reports, once an Anonymous Report has been submitted to REES it cannot be deleted or removed from the database.Back to top
What is the Narrative?
The Narrative is the section of your Record that allows you to write about what happened to you, in your own words. Like all questions in the Record, this is optional. The Narrative is not included in an Anonymous Report.Back to top
Why might I consider writing a narrative?
If you are not sure, or still thinking about whether or not you want to report, writing a Narrative may help you document details of the incident that you remember now.Back to top
About Sexual Violence
Sexual Violence is a broad term that includes sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct. The word violence is not limited to physical violence and also includes emotional and psychological harm.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
This can include sexualized language/jokes, pressuring for sexual activity, and unsolicited sexually explicit text/email/images.
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of settings including the workplace, learning environment, home or community.Back to top
What is Sexual Misconduct?
Sexual misconduct is a non-legal term used informally to describe a broad range of behaviors, which may or may not involve harassment.
This can include inappropriate work relationships (e.g. between a boss and employee).
Sexual misconduct can contribute to a toxic or unsafe workplace or learning environment.Back to top
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault refers to any sexual contact that occurs without consent, such as unwanted sexual touching, kissing, and penetration.Back to top
What is Consent?
Consent is the voluntary agreement to participate in a sexual activity. You can change your mind at any time and withdraw your consent if you are uncomfortable. All people involved must feel that they are able to say “no” or stop the sexual activity at any point. Silence does not equal consent.
Consent cannot be given if an individual is incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, or if they are unconscious. A person in a position of power, trust or authority cannot obtain consent. If a person uses coercion or threats, it is not consent.Back to top
What is an Anonymous Report?
An Anonymous Report includes only the gender, multiple choice and dropdown portions of your Record. It contains no personal or identifying information or your Narrative.Back to top
Why might I consider sending an Anonymous Report?
Sometimes survivors do not wish to make a report to police or participate in an investigation and complaints process with their post-secondary institution. An Anonymous Report allows survivors to have their voice heard and their experience acknowledged anonymously, without making a report.
The data obtained from Anonymous Reports is intended to help measure the incidence and identify patterns of sexual violence on campus, with the goal of improving policy, supports or responses to sexual violence on campus.Back to top
Can I cancel my Anonymous Report?
No. Once you have submitted an Anonymous Report to REES, the action cannot be cancelled.Back to top
What is physical evidence?
Physical evidence is any material item that can be used in an investigation to show what happened. This can include objects, clothing, bed linens, condoms, or anything that might have DNA (bodily fluids, hair, skin cells) from the perpetrator.
If police are involved they will typically obtain evidence from the scene where the sexual assault occurred. It is best to leave things undisturbed by not cleaning or removing any items from the scene. Evidence can also be collected from the body or clothes of the survivor during a sexual assault forensic exam.
If you are not sure whether you want to involve police, you may want to keep evidence in case you later decide to make a report. Keep unwashed clothing or items in a paper bag (plastic bags can damage evidence).Back to top
What is digital evidence?
Digital evidence (also referred to as electronic evidence) is information that is stored on, received, or transmitted in a digital format by an electronic device. This evidence is often created when sexual violence involves the use of technology. Some examples include:
- Text messages or other online communication that contains threats
- Harassing posts on social media
- Email, photos, videos, voicemail messages
How can I safely store my digital evidence?
Documenting your digital evidence can be helpful if you decide to report to police or pursue a complaints process with your post-secondary institution.
Digital evidence can be easily lost or destroyed. To prevent this, there are a number of things you can do to preserve digital evidence.
- Creating backup copies and storing securely on an external storage device (e.g. external hard drive, flash drive)
- Taking screenshots and emailing them to yourself
- Update your account passwords
When documenting digital evidence, include as much information as possible in the screen shots or print outs.
- If you are saving screenshots or print outs of emails, include the full header information from the original email so that the date, time, and IP address of the sender is included. Sometimes the full details of the email header are hidden, and you can access this information in the settings.
- For screenshots of text messages or phone call logs, show the phone number that made the calls or texts, not the contact name assigned to that number in your phone.
It is very important that you are not changing the digital evidence at all. Do not add or delete details. For example, if someone sends a threatening message that does not include their name, you cannot add their name to the message.Back to top
If you have been impacted by sexual violence, you are not alone and there is help available. It’s okay to reach out for support, whether through friends, a sexual assault crisis center, or a counselor or therapist.
Why is it important to get medical care soon after a sexual assault?
Even if you don’t seem to be physically injured, it is strongly encouraged to seek medical attention following a sexual assault. A medical practitioner can address concerns around:
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Pregnancy and emergency contraception
- Other forms of Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
You may want to have a forensic exam done to gather evidence for the purpose of a criminal investigation. You can still access medical care without involving the police.
You can have a support person of your choice such as a friend, family member, or Advocate accompany you throughout the medical care process.Back to top
What is a forensic exam?
A sexual assault forensic exam is an exam that has two purposes: to attend to any medical concerns the survivor may have following the assault, and to collect evidence for the purpose of a criminal investigation.
If possible avoid bathing, showering, brushing teeth, eating or drinking before a forensic exam. If you already have that is okay and you can still be examined.
In some communities you can have a forensic exam done and the evidence will be stored for up to one year to provide time to consider if you want to file a police report. This is called a Forensic Hold.Back to top
What are the sexual assault services in my Community?
Sexual Assault Centres Across Canada
RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline
Rape Crisis England and Wales
Telephone: 0808 802 9999
Rape Crisis Scotland
Telephone: 08088 01 03 02
Rape Crisis Network Ireland
Telephone: 1800 778888
Rape Crisis Network Europe
Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE) - Find Help
Telephone: +43 (0) 1 548 272 0
1800 RESPECT - National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service
Telephone: 1800 737 732
Safe to Talk - Sexual Harm Helpline
Telephone: 0800 044 334
National Women's Helpline
Telephone: 03 5774 0992
Korea Sexual Violence Resource Centre
Telephone: 02 2263 6465
Children and Women Protection Hotline
Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust
Telephone: 021 447 9762
Linea 144 - Violence Against Women Hotline
Ligue 180 - Violence Against Women Helpline
What are common reactions after experiencing sexual violence?
After experiencing sexual violence, you may notice changes in the way you feel about yourself, your body, and your perception of safety. Everyone’s experience is different, and there are no right or wrong ways to feel.
Some common reactions include:
- Feelings of shame, humiliation, and guilt
- Mood swings and anger
- Difficulty concentrating or a lack of motivation
- Feeling powerless
- Feelings of fear, feeling unsafe, difficulty trusting others
- Physical changes (e.g. eating and sleeping problems, anxiety, headaches)
- Feeling detached from your body
- Thoughts of harming yourself
Self-blame is a common reaction after sexual violence. You may find yourself thinking about “what could I have done to prevent this from happening?” It is important to remember that no matter the circumstances, what happened is not your fault. Anyone can be assaulted or harassed, and nobody ever deserves or invites sexual violence.Back to top
What are grounding techniques?
Grounding techniques are simple strategies to direct your focus to the sensations in your body or your surroundings in the present moment. This can be helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed by distressing thoughts or feelings, or if you feel disconnected or numb. Grounding techniques can be used when you are having a panic attack, flashback, unwanted memory, or dissociation. Even though grounding does not solve the problem that is causing you distress, it can help you gain control of your thoughts and feelings and prevent things from getting worse.
Grounding techniques are often simple but take practice to be most effective.
There are many different grounding techniques. Find what works best for you. Here are a few exercises you can try.
Bring your awareness to the present by engaging your 5 senses. Look around and name:
- 5 objects you can see
- 4 different sounds you can hear
- 3 textures you can feel
- 2 scents you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Breathing exercises can help relax the body and the mind and bring a sense of calm. Box breathing (also called Square breathing) involves counting to steady and even out the breath.
- Inhale slowly for 4 counts
- Hold your breath for 4 counts
- Exhale slowly for 4 counts
- Hold your breath for 4 counts
- Repeat this process a few times, paying attention to your breath.
Use a phrase to anchor yourself in the present moment
Say out loud or silently to yourself.
For example, “I’m Full Name. I’m X years old. Today is Monday, April 6. It’s 9:23 in the morning. I am sitting at my desk.” Continue adding details to bring your attention to your current surroundings.
You can also try this with soothing phrases such as
- “I am safe right now.”
- “I am going through a hard time, but I will get through this.”
What is a self-care plan?
A self-care plan is a plan to attend to your physical and emotional needs and to help you cope during difficult times, such as after experiencing sexual violence.
Self-care is individual and everyone’s self-care looks different. What works for you may not work for someone else, and vice versa.
What follows is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to self-care, but some questions to help you get started thinking about how you look after yourself physically and emotionally.
Physical self-care involves activities that improve or maintain your physical health and support your overall wellbeing.
- Are you getting enough rest? Do you have a routine or sleep pattern that makes you feel more rested?
- What types of movement do you enjoy? Are there activities that make you feel more energized?
- Are you eating foods that make you feel nourished, satisfied, and energized? Are you drinking fluids to stay hydrated?
- Do you seek medical care when needed?
Emotional self-care involves being connected to your emotions and learning ways to cope when those emotions feel overwhelming or distressing. It also involves cultivating healthy relationships and feeling good about yourself. This may include:
- Taking time for yourself
- Spending time with people you feel supported by
- Allowing yourself to acknowledge and accept uncomfortable or painful emotions when they arise
- Spiritual practices such as meditation, self-reflection, or prayer
- Enjoying activities that are fun and rewarding to you
Part of taking care of yourself involves knowing when you need to reach out for help. There are people on your campus and in your community who are available to support you.Back to top
Who can I call if I am having thoughts of suicide or harming myself?
13 11 14
0800 111 757
91 44 2464 0050
03 5774 0992
0800 567 567
How can I help a friend who has experienced sexual violence?
Listen and believe them
Give them space to talk about their experience in their own way, in their own time. They may not want to talk about it with you at all, and that is okay too. Respect their decision.
Here are some things you can say to a friend who has experienced sexual assault:
- It’s not your fault.
- I’m sorry this happened.
- I believe you.
- How can I help you?
- I am glad you told me.
- I’ll support your choices.
- You’re not alone.
Encourage them to get medical attention
It is important to get medical attention after a sexual assault.
Connect them to resources or advocates
Become familiar with resources on your campus or in your community that you can suggest to your friend – but only if they are interested. You can ask your friend if they want to know about resources, and if not, don’t offer them. Remember to respect your friend’s choices.
Acknowledge your limits and take care of yourself
Even with the best of intentions, recognize that you can only do so much. You can be a support to your friend, and still encourage them to seek other supports as well. Also pay attention to the way supporting your friend is impacting your wellbeing. Take good care of yourself. Know that you can reach out for support for yourself as well. Many sexual assault crisis centres or crisis lines will provide support for secondary survivors (people impacted by the sexual assault of someone close to them).
- Asking questions that may feel blaming, such as questions that start with
why did youor
why didn’t youor pressing for details about the assault.
- Telling your friend what to do. Instead, help them explore their options and allow them to have control over their choices.
- Touching or hugging them unless you check first that they are comfortable with physical contact.
This content is adapted from the following sources:
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
Victoria Sexual Assault Centre
McGill OSVRSE (Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support and Education)
NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Centre)