Barbara Lotan prepared for challenges ahead

New Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator divulges strategies to combat sexual violence

Barbara Lotan is ready to tackle the challenges of her new position

Though her role is expansive, Barbara Lotan — Queen’s’ first Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator — says she’s already working hard to do it right.

Lotan, as of May 24, has been charged with a heavy weight. She is a first responder for survivors, a coordinator for campus-wide education initiatives, an advocate for the prevention of sexual violence on campus, and more.

“I have always had an interest in the impact of crimes on victims [and] survivors, their families, and on entire communities” Lotan wrote in an email to The Journal.

Her first experience in criminology came before her work as a Police Constable for the Perth Police Service, during a placement at the Nepean Police Service in the Victim Assistance Unit.

“I realized quickly that there were many opportunities to support victims and that I could have a positive impact,” she wrote.

At the same time, she recognized a gap in on-going support services for victims of crime, and learned about the dynamics of gender-based sexual and domestic violence.

"When I began my career as a police officer, I made a commitment to continue to ensure a better response to victims [and] survivors" she wrote.

A winding career path later lead Lotan to the field of education, as a Child and Youth Worker for the Upper Canada District School Board.

She eventually worked as a coordinator for the Lanark County Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Program and the Tri-County Sexual Behaviour Program in Lanark, Leeds & Grenville Task Forces.

Since Lotan’s position was created at Queen’s as part of the new Sexual Assault Policy, which was approved by the University’s Board of Trustees on March4, concerns have arisen about the number of responsibilities she’s been tasked to deal with on her own.

Several members of the Queen’s community have expressed worry about the ability of one individual to handle such a demanding and expansive portfolio.

However, Lotan insists that despite demanding duties, she is “not without a larger team”.

She says she plans to combat the heavy workload by forming supportive relationships with “partners both on and off campus”. By depending on her team, and by being flexible and responsive to the needs of the community, she says she’ll be able to find a natural balance.

With all her academic and professional experiences, along with her passion for victim and survivor support, Lotan says her move to Queen’s “feels like a natural progression.”

In terms of credentials, Lotan has a B.A. in psychology and criminology from Carleton University, a certification in police leadership from Dalhousie, and a certification from the Canadian Institute of Conflict Resolution.

She has also been involved on an ongoing basis with the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Program at the Perth & Smiths Falls District Hospital.

Now, she says her priority as the first Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator at Queen’s is to really understand what sexual violence response services are currently offered on campus and how they are accessed.

She says, this way, she’ll be able to identify the challenges that survivors of sexual violence at Queen’s encounter when navigating the system.

According to Lotan, it is important to consider both the roles of the University and the criminal justice system when responding to reports of sexual violence. The amount to which each institution is involved will ultimately depend on the needs of the survivor.

While Lotan carries out her work, she maintains that the Queen’s community is responsible for ensuring proper sexual violence response and prevention both on and off campus.

“Sexual violence is not just an issue on campus, it is a societal issue,” Lotan wrote. The best way to respond, she believes, is to continue to speak out publicly, to ensure access to education, and to facilitate training with a focus on skill-building and prevention.

“We all have a role to play in responding, as individuals, not just as part of institutions.”

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