Sexual abuse

Rape Myths Hide Troubling Reality

Woman looking at viewerUnderreporting of sexual assault is a problem we hear about frequently in Canada and around the world. Whether that underreporting is a result of police negligence, underfunding of sexual assault centres, police forces and labs, a biased judicial process, or poor sexual education in schools, what’s often missing from the discussion is recognition of how culture influences our understanding of sexual assault.

Culture is significant - it shapes who we are, our morals, ethics, principles, and how we connect to one another. Patriarchy, as a dominant force in Canadian culture, shapes who we become as individuals and who we are as a society. 

How to Support Survivors of Sexual Violence

Woman looking at cameraWhen someone tells you about their experience of sexual assault, it can be difficult to know how to react. You may struggle to know what to say or worry about saying the wrong thing. You may want to help and be supportive, but not know how.

It’s important to understand that when someone shares their experience with you, the best thing you can do is listen to their feelings, thoughts and needs, and to support them in their healing process, whatever that may be. Everyone who experiences sexual assault will have different ways to handle the situation and to heal.

“I Don’t Think You’ll Understand” – How Music Can Help Us End Violence

Woman with dandelionMusic is powerful. It’s a medium like no other – thoughts, feelings and raw emotions laced with rhythms and chord progressions that keep the message flowing.

Music for so many is an escape. It provides a chance to reflect on personal events that happen in life and an opportunity to relate to another human being. Who hasn’t said at one point “hey, that line says exactly how I feel right now…”

But what happens when that line brings to light an experience that you’ve worked hard to forget? Or gives you chilling insight into someone else’s pain?

What is “Rape Culture” Anyway?

Scales of justiceI wrote a blog post recently about a man getting in my space and creeping me out in an elevator, and posted the link to my Facebook page. I couldn’t believe the chorus of voices that rose up in the comments to defend him, and defend men in general, as though I had somehow accused them all. There were even comments about how my fearful attitude is partly responsible for “attracting these types of situations”.

It blew my mind how quickly people jumped to the man’s defense, and also questioned my read of the situation, as though they, people who were not present, somehow understood what happened better than I did.

Why We Ask - Teaching Consent

Couple sitting in parkThis post was originally published on the Klinic’s blog.

This evening I am again sitting in on a SERC youth session at Peaceful Village, this time at a south end Winnipeg high school. As I mentioned in a previous post, Peaceful Village offers programming that supports integration and literacy for newcomer families and youth, and our partnership with them is funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation. To learn more please read my first blog on this partnership, Healthy Relationships Start Young.

This is week 9 of the 12 week session and Bre, one of our Sexuality & Reproductive Health Facilitators, invited me to attend because she is so impressed by the thoughtfulness and exuberance of this unique group. In fact, she tells me, last week one of the students started a discussion on the idealization of masculinity and how it affects male youth–this is clearly a young man after my own heart.  Today we are talking about consent.

10 Reasons Violence Against Women is Still a Problem in Canada

Woman with striped t-shirtIn May, a wildfire engulfed Fort McMurray, Alberta, and thousands of people were evacuated as the flames scorched forests and homes in its path. In response, people from coast to coast demonstrated the kindness Canadians are famous for.

The crisis came at a difficult time in Alberta—the province has been struggling to deal with a recession for months. As the fire died down, another disturbing story emerged: domestic violence has been on the rise in Calgary.

Police believe that the stress of the province’s economic slump and subsequent job loss has exacerbated the problem. Alarmingly, research also shows that violence between partners can increase following a natural disaster. After Hurricane Katrina, violence between partners rose by 98%. In unstable conditions, shelters may be forced to close, making women increasingly vulnerable to violence.

Elder Abuse is an Issue in Canada

Older woman outsideWhat would you do if you found out your grandmother had been hurt by another family member? Or you saw your elderly neighbour being yelled at by her caregiver?

It’s painful to picture our older friends and family members being abused by the people they trust. Yet, a survey released in 2016 by the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly estimated that 766,000 Canadian seniors – more than three-quarters of a million – were abused last year.

On June 15, people all over the globe are recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to shed much-needed light on the issue. Elder abuse is “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person,” according to the World Health Organization.

Ending Sexual Harassment at Work

Businesswoman on trainKathryn Borel’s recent statement about why she pressed charges against Jian Ghomeshi drew national attention to the issue of sexual harassment at work. But many cases will never be reported or make the headlines.

Disturbingly, workplace sexual harassment is fairly common in Canada, particularly for women. A 2014 Angus Reid poll indicated that 43% of women have received unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours or have been subjected to sexually-charged jokes while at work. Women are four times as likely as men to have experienced harassment. Twenty per cent say they’ve been sexually assaulted while on the clock.

An Oasis of Friendship and Safety

Paper chain of women holding handsWomen with intellectual disabilities are twice as likely to be sexually or physically abused, but most violence prevention programs don’t meet their special needs.

Thanks to a grant from the Canadian Women’s Foundation, a program called Safety Includes Me has been launched by Community Living Toronto. The program is designed for women with intellectual disabilities who live on their own without family or other social supports.

During the six-week program, the women learn how to identify healthy relationships, refuse unwanted attention, and practice safe sex. They also learn basic self-defence, plus tips for staying safe at home, on the street, on public transit, and online.

Barriers Ahead: Violence Against Women with Disabilities

Woman thinking“How can you let someone treat you that way?

“Why don’t you report it?”

“Why don’t you just leave him?”

There’s a tendency for people to assume that women should be able to just get up and leave abusive relationships, or that reporting the abuse will immediately put an end to the situation, but it isn’t that easy.