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You Are a Person in Authority

As a person in authority, you are responsible for stopping harassment and actively preventing it. How?

How to intervene

  • Lead by example.
  • Apply and enforce the INRS Policy against Sexual Violence and the INRS Harassment, Discrimination and Incivility Policy (available in the Documents normatifs section).
  • Set expectations for performance and behaviour.
  • Keep an eye out for and defuse risky situations. 
  • Manage performance and behaviour.
  • Act when you observe discomfort, suffering or problems with the general atmosphere

Helpful attitudes and ones to avoid

It’s important to take the time to listen to anyone who tells you they’ve been harassed. Even if you aren’t an expert or you feel unable to comfort or support a victim over the long term, be aware that attentive and respectful listening at the time of disclosure can make a huge difference.

Harmful reactions

Asking the victim direct questions, demanding for more details, talking incessantly.

Casting doubts
Being skeptical or questioning what the victim is saying

Trivializing, minimizing, or playing down
Trivializing the aggression and minimizing its effect on the victim and their emotions and reactions.

Pointing out the victim’s weaknesses or what they could have done
Telling them they should have done this or that. For example, telling them or making them feel like they shouldn’t have been walking alone or gone out at night.

Ignoring the situation and shirking responsibility
Ignoring the call for help. Avoiding getting involved in the situation because it doesn’t concern you or isn’t your problem or area of expertise.

Pointing the finger, laying blame, making accusations
Blaming the victim for what they didn’t or should have done. Indicating to the victim that they must have provoked the behaviour and share responsibility for what happened to them.

Smothering and overprotecting the victim by preventing them from going out, seeing relatives or sleeping away from home..

Turning the page
Preventing the victim from expressing negative emotions under the pretext that it’s not good to live in the past.

Helpful reactions

Listening without judging
Letting the victim express themselves in their own words, in their own way, and at their own pace. Listening without judging.

Believing and respecting the victim’s experiences
Believing what the victim is telling you because it’s their own experience and perception. Focusing on what they say and have experienced.

Listening without amplifying or minimizing
Listening to what the victim has to say without minimizing or amplifying facts, emotions or effects.

Emphasizing the victim’s strengths
Highlighting the things the victim has done right. Underlining their strength and courage in speaking out.

Providing support and being present and available
Being available to listen to and support the victim. If necessary, telling the victim you feel incapable of helping them, but assisting and supporting them in their search for another person or resource who can.

Eliminating guilt and identifying needs
Telling the victim that the sexual assault they suffered isn’t their fault. Explaining that the perpetrator is fully responsible for their actions. Emphasizing that their only responsibility is to take care of themselves.

Encouraging the victim to exercise autonomy and reach out to contacts
Helping the victim regain control over their life while providing support. Giving them space to breathe and resume their normal activities.

Validating their emotions and feelings
Helping the victim express their feelings by normalizing their reactions, emotions and feelings, including anger, resentment, guilt and low self-esteem. Validating the speed at which they are healing and their reactions over the short, medium and long terms.


It’s important to assist the victim by listening to them without judging or questioning and refer them to resources that can help. INRS provides several such resources.

Giving and finding help

The INRS Human Resources Department provides advisory services to managers and faculty members to help them take appropriate action to stop harassment. They can help you assess the extent and severity of the situation and determine actions that will stop conduct that could be considered harassment and establish an intervention strategy.

Academic and authority relationships and intimacy

Under the INRS Policy against Sexual Violence, when a person in an academic or authority relationship enters into an intimate (i.e., romantic or sexual) relationship with another member of the university community, INRS considers that the situation is likely to affect the objectivity and impartiality required in the academic or authority relationship, prevent free consent, encourage the abuse of power, and even lead to sexual violence.

The following individuals are considered to be in academic or authority relationships:

  • A professor with a student who is under their supervision or joint supervision or enrolled in one of their classes;
  • A professor with a member of their research group;
  • A member of a research group with a student they are supervising in the same group;
  • An officer, executive or other staff member in a management position with a member of the university community working under their supervision.

In the event any such relationship becomes intimate, the involved parties must report the situation using the form located in Appendix A of the INRS Policy Against Sexual Violence (available in Documents normatifs section). The form must be sent to

Harcèlement psychologique et violences à caractère sexuel

Need help or someone to talk to?

Call 1 888 401-VACS (8227) or write to

Resources are available to the community free of charge and in complete confidentiality.