Can I Kiss You? Sexual Violence Prevention

Every year, the Bishop’s Student Representative Council (SRC) holds an Orientation Week for incoming students to help them transition into university life. One of the events that is mandatory for all new students is the Can I Kiss You?  presentation about consent and strategies for bystander intervention. To help shed some light on sexual violence prevention on campus, we spoke with Dominique Pelletier, Clinical Social Worker and Bishop’s Sexual Aggression Response Coordinator.    

Orientation Week

The Can I Kiss You? presentation has been giving at Bishop’s as a part of Orientation Week since 2014. “This year, the presentation had to be done virtually for the first time because of COVID,” explains Pelletier. For the past 6 years, the talk has been given by Mike Domitrz, who is an educator, author, publisher and the founder of Center for Respect, an organization with a mission to prevent sexual assaults and encourage safe dating. “Mike is great because he teaches students about consent and shows them how they can intervene if they witness any type of sexual violence on or off campus. He uses humour, role plays and interacts with the crowd to get his message across, so his presentation is always fun and engaging,” says Pelletier. “Mike also takes some time to share his personal story and explains how sexual violence has affected his family, which is a very powerful and touching part of the presentation.”  

Bystander intervention training helps first year students understand what it means to be an active bystander, as well as helping “students identify potentially harmful situations and gives them some tools they can use to take a stand against sexually violent conversations and behavior,” clarifies Pelletier.  

Bishop’s Resources for Matters Related to Sexual Violence 

The first point of contact for all matters related to sexual violence for students is Pelletier, Bishop’s Sexual Aggression Response Coordinator (SARC).  The SARC is available during business hours and her office is located in Student Services in the Student Centre. Students who wish to access the SARC can contact Student Services at 819-822-9695 or email Francine Hamel at “Our team of counsellors is also available to provide emotional support to individuals who have been affected by sexual violence and we have an on-call counsellor for after-hours emergencies,” explains Pelletier. 

In addition to counselling services, Bishop’s offers a support group for survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones called Sexual Assault Support & Healing (SASH). “All SASH meetings are peer-led, open, and typically occur bi-weekly.” More information can be found on SASH’s Facebook page.  

Campus security is available 24/7 for all individuals who witness or experience sexual violence (by dialing 711 from campus or 819-822-9711). Emergency resources are also available 24/7 on Bishop’s Sexual Assault webpage.  “Lastly, CALACS/Agression Estrie is a local organization that provides bilingual assistance and resources to survivors of sexual violence and their entourage,” shares Pelletier.  

Changes on Campus 

In recent years, Bishop’s has taken further steps towards the prevention of sexual violence. “In the fall of 2019, Bishop’s installed new lamp posts and emergency phones on the bike trail leading from campus to the golf course and Champlain residences,” explains Pelletier.  “In March of 2020, the University started installing card readers, electronic locks on office doors and panic buttons in various departments.  Several surveillance cameras were also added earlier this year, including one in the P-4 parking lot.”   

Seeking Help

Sexual violence can be an extremely hard subject to talk about, but Pelletier has a few things to say to anyone reading who would like to seek help but doesn’t know how: “asking for help can be difficult and scary, especially if you have experienced or witnessed sexual violence. I just want you to know that you are not alone and that there are trained staff at Bishop’s who can help support you through your healing process. Just reach out to Student Services at (819) 822-9695 or to make an appointment with one of our counsellors whenever you are ready. We will be there for you!” 

More about Dominique Pelletier… 

In 2018, the Policy for the Prevention of Sexual Violence was approved by Bishop’s Board of Governors after two thorough and attentive years of development. The Sexual Aggression Response Coordinator position was created in support of this policy. Pelletier’s main role as the SARC is to provide emotional support and resources to individuals who have experienced or witnessed sexual violence. Her mission as a social worker is to ensure the emotional and physical wellbeing of individuals, families, groups, and communities in need. Originally from Quebec, Pelletier received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Oakland University in Michigan and a master’s in social work (Clinical Concentration) from the University of Texas at Austin. 

For more information about sexual violence prevention at Bishop’s, visit the Bishop’s Sexual Assault webpage.

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