Safety planning

What can I do if I am being sexually harassed or stalked?

The following are suggested courses of action that you may take. If you are affected by these acts, you should take the steps that you feel most comfortable taking. If you fear for your safety, contact 911 or McGill Security.

  • Talk to someone about it. You are not alone. This may include speaking with trusted friends or colleagues who can be on alert.
  • If the person is known to you, and if you feel comfortable, you can tell them that the contact is unwanted and ask them to stop communicating with you. If the person is stalking you or sexually harassing on online (cyberviolence), do this in writing and avoid responding to their reply. If the sexual harassment is done in person, identify the unwanted behaviour and ask them to stop either in person (preferably in the presence of a witness) or in writing. Keep a copy of your message.
  • Document all actions, communications and/or incidents, including dates, times, locations, names of witnesses, actions, threats, feelings and reactions, and other relevant details.
  • Keep all evidence: emails, texts, social media messages, etc.
  • If you are being followed, try to move into crowded areas.
  • If you are experiencing cyber violence, you may wish to file a complaint with the cyberstalker's Internet service provider, as well as with your own service provider. Many Internet service providers offer tools that filter or block communications from specific individuals.
  • You may want to file a report with your local law enforcement. When filing a police report, it is recommended that you save a copy and record all contact with law enforcement officials.
  • If the person sexually harassing or stalking you is a McGill community member, you may want to file a formal report within McGill.

What can I do if I am experiencing sexual or gender-based violence at home?

If sexual or gender-based violence is being experienced at home (for example by a partner, family member, roommate, neighbour, or landlord), having a safety plan can increase your safety and that of your children. A safety plan involves identifying action steps to prepare in case you have to leave a violent situation very quickly. You can print the Quebec Government’s safety plan checklist.

If you require immediate shelter, you can call SOS Violence Conjugale, a 24/7 service that can refer you to available shelters across the province: 514-873-9010 in Montréal or 1-800-363-9010 across Québec. If you fear for your safety, contact 911.

If you are living with an abusive partner, family member or roommate and may need to leave in a hurry:

  • Be careful about who can access your phone and see the last number you dialed or received a call from, your text messages, etc.
  • Create a list of telephone numbers including local police, nearest shelters, help lines, family members, friends, counsellors, children’s friends, etc.
  • Open a separate bank account in your name, and have the statements sent to another address (a friend or family member).
  • Make arrangements with friends or family so that you can stay with them if necessary.
  • Have a small bag with essentials kept with a person you trust, away from your home.
  • Consider a plan for the safety and wellbeing of your pet(s) such as making arrangements with friends or family.
  • Establish a code word with your children to let them know you are in danger and to contact police immediately and protect themselves during a violent incident.
  • Establish a code word with a friend or family member that can be used over the phone, in a text message or email to let them know you are in danger.
  • Plan an escape route and avoid places where weapons such as knives or guns are kept.
  • Prepare all necessary documents so that they you can grab them quickly and easily (originals and/or copies):
    • Identification papers for yourself and your children: passport, social insurance card, birth certificates, immigration papers, citizenship card, aboriginal status card,
    • Driver’s licence and registration, health cards and children’s immunization records
    • Divorce and custody papers
    • Restraining orders, peace bonds, any other court orders
    • Bank books, cheque book, credit cards, mortgage or loan papers
    • Lease/rental agreement, property deed, business or partnership agreements, rent or mortgage payment receipts
    • Address book
    • Photograph of your abuser to help identify them
  • If you decide to leave, try to bring what you would use every day. Items to keep in mind:
    • An extra set of keys for the apartment or house and vehicle
    • Small bills and change for taxis and telephone calls
    • Clothing for yourself and your children
    • Medications
    • Cell phone/laptop
    • Infant or car seat
    • Your child’s favourite toy/blanket
    • A list of other items you can pick up later, or have picked up by someone else

Breaking your lease

The Quebec Civil Code allows a tenant to terminate their lease if their security or that of a child living with them is threatened as a result of intimate partner violence (by a spouse or former spouse) or because of sexual violence (by anyone). To legally end your lease, you must give these two documents to your landlord:

  1. A document from the office of the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (or in some cases, the municipal court of Montreal) stating that you have been the victim of spousal or sexual violence and giving you the right to end to your lease. This document is officially called an "attestation."
  2. A written notice informing your landlord about your situation and your intention to end the lease.

The lease will be terminated 2 months after the notification has been sent to the landlord, or 1 month in the case of a lease lasting less than 12 months or for an undetermined period.Visit the éducaloi website for more information. If you need help filling out the forms, or for a document to support your attestation, osvrse [at] mcgill.ca (contact us).

Note: You do NOT have to file a complaint with the police to legally break your lease.