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 this campaign highlighted the need for more awareness to be made about sexual assault in our communities. it acknowledged that there is a lack of education about sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence. the goal of this campaign was to create more awareness about this and find creative ways to support victims of sexual assault

- tobi nifesi

share your story. share your thoughts.

use the hashtag #itcouldhappentoyou.

Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity or contact that you do not consent to. Sexual assault can happen through physical force or threats of force or if the attacker gave the victim drugs or alcohol as part of the assault. Sexual assault includes rape and sexual coercion (Office on Women’s Health)

As part of the campaign, we held roundtable conversations in Winnipeg, Vancouver and Ottawa about sexual assault - as highlighted by the themes in my book, the burgess theory.

At each meeting, a professional sexual assault advocate was available to lead the conversations. donations were raised via pay-what-you-can tickets and 100% of proceeds went to the Sexual Assault programs at Klinic Community Health Centre (Winnipeg), BC Women’s Foundation (Vancouver) and the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa (Ottawa)

TEN THINGS WE LEARNt FROM THE ROUNDTABLE CONVERSATIONS

Believe survivors

It takes a lot of courage for a survivor to speak up. By ignoring survivors, you are silencing the voices of many others who are yet to even speak up. Give survivors the benefit of the doubt. 

Safe spaces begin with circles

We need more safe spaces for survivors. Safe spaces are avenues for survivors to speak freely without being judged, stigmatized or silenced. The journey to providing more safe spaces begins with small circles - friends, families, workplaces, casual and professional associations/meetings and religious centres. 

Self-awareness is key

In Vancouver, we discussed the concept of many people being lost and, therefore, alone. The concept of being lost refers to the idea that people aren’t aware of their own vices and tendencies. More so, they aren’t aware of their triggers and past events in their lives that may cause them to go over the edge someday. We believe that it is essential for everyone to deal with any form of traumatic events from their past by speaking with a counsellor. 

We need more consent workshops

Consent workshops help provide a greater understanding of the impact of rape culture. It also helps to deconstruct rape culture by providing resources that teach individuals about instances of and proper reactions to consent. 

Trauma has no empirical rules

Understand that everyone deals with trauma differently. We shouldn’t push survivors to speak up until they are ready to but we should be willing to support them both privately and publicly. More so, we shouldn’t discredit a survivors’ testimony simply because they didn’t speak up earlier. 

Direct, Delegate, Distract

Mary Asekome taught us about the three Ds of being an active bystander. These are some tips to guide you if you’re not sure how to intervene in a situation where a person is being sexually assault. 

  • Direct: Address the situation head-on. Don’t stand idly by. Speak up and stand up for the survivor/victim and help them seek professional help. However, don’t try to force the survivors to do your bidding. Simply, be there for them and guide them as they make decisions.

  • Delegate: If possible, assign someone else to join in and help. 

  • Distract: If someone is being assaulted right in front of you and you don’t know what to do, diffuse the situation by causing a distraction so the victim/survivor can exit the situation.. E.g: If a person is being groped on a bus, you can do the fish dance between both parties thus allowing the survivor to distance themselves from the perpetrator. 

Teach them Young

Millennials who are parents or parents-to-be need to take on the responsibility of providing sex and consent education for their children - as soon as they are old enough to understand these terms. 

Be Willing to Interrupt

As an active bystander, you should be willing to call out sexual assault when you perceive or see it in a relationship around you. You should also be willing to publicly support the survivor in the situation. 

Sexual Assault = Lack of Respect

As individuals, we need to be more mindful and respectful of people’s boundaries, spaces, bodies and potential triggers. In all our conversations throughout the campaign, we came to the conclusion that sexual assault tends to occur where there is a lack of proper respect for the survivor. 

It could happen to you

You could be a survivor/victim or a perpetrator. Don’t simply assume you know better. Instead, take the right measures to be more self-aware, respectful of others and mindful of the situations you find yourself in. 

Thank you to everyone who was a part of this campaign.

Together, we pledged $1,000 towards supporting survivors of sexual assault.

Let’s keep having these conversations and supporting survivors.