If you require immediate assistance, consider calling 514 933 9007 for an on-call crisis counsellor from the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre (Open 24 hours, 7 days a week)
In the event of an emergency, A-Branch cannot guarantee a rapid response. We will strive to respond and provide services to recent survivors as soon as possible.
You can access resources for recent survivors here or by navigating to Resources > Resources for Immediate Survivors.
COVID-19 vaccination is not required to access SACOMSS services, however all in-person meetings require volunteers and clients to follow COVID-19 protocols (hand hygiene, masks, contact tracing). While A-Branch is primarily operating remotely through Zoom – to facilitate the many accessibility challenges that may arise through a virtual format, we are currently conducting some in-person meetings.
We believe you.
It’s not your fault.
Whether you experienced harassment, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, or invasion of privacy, please know that it is not your fault and that you deserve safety, respect, care, and support. Whatever you are feeling is valid – there is no one way to respond to harassment or violence.
Many emotions may be running through your mind, such as shock, fear, disbelief, recurring memories, outrage, confusion, sadness, despair, and anger. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Whether and how you choose to share your story, and with whom, is entirely up to you. You can be confident that we will be there to support you in any decision you make to the best of our ability, regardless of what you decide.
We offer you a safe and supportive environment.
A-Branch volunteer advocates provide affirming, empowering, free, confidential support and bring a non-judgmental, caring approach to exploring your options, rights, and resources.
The decision whether to pursue any of the available resources is always yours, and you can seek support without the involvement of the police or the university. We are here to support you in your decision. Please feel free to ask questions if you have any concerns or hesitations.
3480 McTavish, B-27
Montreal, QC H3A 1X9
What is the Advocacy Branch?
Advocacy is the practice of “supporting and assisting a victim/survivor to define needs, explore options, and ensure rights are respected within any systems with which the victim/survivor interacts” (New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence).
While A-Branch and SACOMSS are affiliated with Student’s Society of McGill University (SSMU), we want to emphasize that our services are available to the people of the Greater Montreal Area. Some of our volunteers are members of the McGill community but all come from the Greater Montreal Area.
All the services we offer are anonymous and trauma-informed (to know more about trauma-informed practices, see the US-based National Sexual Violence Resource Center):
- Advocacy and accompaniment
- Information and resource referral
- Active listening and support
- In a safe space
- Other help (ask us!)
- NO legal advice
- Racial identity
- Sexual and gender identity
- Affiliation with McGill University
- COVID-19 vaccination status
Even if you are unsure whether the A-Branch can assist you, we encourage you to ask!
How Can the A-Branch Help Me?
Advocacy and Accompaniment:
Volunteers are available to explain and accompany survivors to:
- Medical appointments (medical/legal kits, abortion, STI testing, therapy, etc.)
- File a criminal complaint at a police station
- Meetings at legal clinics
- Mediation procedures (if allowed)
- Appointments with the Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support, and Education (OSVRSE)
Information and Resource Referral:
Policies & Procedures:
Volunteers can assist you in navigating the complaint procedure at McGill, through:
- The Sexual Violence Policy (link to a PDF)
- The Policy Against Harassment and Discrimination Prohibited by Law (link to a PDF)
- Any other organization and institution, if applicable
While A-Branch volunteers are not professional counsellors or lawyers, our training and access to a wide range of resources allow us to do the relevant research and provide you with any necessary information about policies and resources. We can attend meetings with the Special Investigator with you, help you establish academic accommodations, request immediate administrative measures related to your safety on campus, and sign the transcript of your report on your behalf.
SACOMSS has extensive knowledge of resources available in Montreal and online, which include support for a diverse range of issues and identities. As volunteers, we will do everything we can to help you find resources that are accessible and open to you as an individual.
Active Listening and Support:
Each A-Branch volunteer undergoes an initial training program and retraining every term to learn and maintain trauma-informed approaches, anti-oppression practices, active listening techniques, and up-to-date knowledge of policies and resources.
Even if you are unsure whether the A-Branch can assist you, we encourage you to ask! We are available to simply meet with survivors to explore their options and offer active listening. Just send an email to schedule a meeting.
A-Branch Volunteers have assisted survivors in a variety of ways, that have included:
- Providing meals
- Filing protection orders for survivors
- Seeking information from McGill Security Services
- Helping individuals move apartments
- Emailing professors to ask for academic accommodations after an assault
- Writing complaint letters for individuals that have been mistreated by other organizations and health centres
- Increasing home security
- Writing opinion pieces and open letters
How Do I Get Involved?
If you’re looking to volunteer with us, please contact us for details about our next training. Training times may vary, but are usually held once a year either in September/October, January/February, or April/May. Our social media pages (Facebook and Instagram) offer the most up-to-date information about the latest volunteer opportunities.