Section 1: Getting Started
In 2018, there were nearly 500,000 international students in Canada at all levels of study which was an 17% increase from 2017 (Canadian Bureau for International Education, 2018). B.C. hosts the second largest international student population next to Ontario, followed by Quebec.
International students may be at significant increased risk of being targeted for sexual violence and may face unique barriers to reporting and accessing supports (see Section 2: International Students for more information about barriers). According to the B.C. International Student Survey, international students rely primarily on other international students from their home country and from other countries for their primary sources of support, especially for non-academic issues (Adamosky, 2015). Consequently, international students who are survivors of sexual assault will be more likely to disclose the sexual assault and gain support from other the international students. International students who experience or who are impacted by sexual violence are also significantly less likely to seek help from counselling services due to language barriers and cultural differences (Mori, 2000). To make matters more complex, cultural perspectives of violence and rape myths differ from one culture to another (Bonistall Postel, 2017). Thus, international students might have difficulty identifying sexual violence and responding to disclosures of sexual assault. Therefore, it is important for post-secondary institutions to play a role in equipping international students with basic understanding on how to best respond, support, and advocate for their peers in an appropriate and sensitive matter that does not further traumatize the survivor.
Post-secondary institutions should involve international students in the development and implementation of training on sexual violence. They are the experts and can identify the gaps and needs of their peer groups and as individuals. Facilitators can develop the training agenda based on their needs and be prepared with the relevant safety resources that include community organizations and groups, translated materials and supports. Post-secondary institutions can build partnerships with organizations that are providing support to international students who can share the collateral they have, e.g., safety booklets, infographics and educational materials (see, for example, the International Student Safety Guide developed by MOSAIC).