National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 2022

The CASASC office will be closed Friday, September 30 for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

CASASC staff, led by the Kinship Intervention Program (KIP), will be participating in reflection, awareness and educational initiatives throughout the day. We seek to honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis survivors and their families, acknowledging the ongoing impacts of Residential Schools.

September 30 is also Orange Shirt Day – a national movement in Canada.

From the University of Victoria: “In this annual event, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people come together in the spirit of hope and reconciliation to honour former residential school students, their families and communities. We consider the impacts of the policies and actions of the Government of Canada and the churches that operated the schools.

Orange Shirt Day began in Williams Lake, BC in 2013 at the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event at which survivor Phyllis Webstad told the story of her shiny new orange shirt taken away from her on her first day of school at the Mission.

Orange Shirt Day occurs in early Fall because this is the time of year when children were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools. The day inspires Canadians to take part in anti-racism and anti-bullying initiatives at school and work.

The residential school era began in the early 1870’s, with the last school closing in 1996. More than 150,000 Indigenous, Métis and Inuit children attended these schools. There are an estimated 80,000 survivors living today.”

CASASC is committed to reconciliation. On Friday we will wear our orange iRespect t-shirts as a visual symbol of our awareness of the need for ongoing reconciliation and accountability.

We encourage you to seek further information about the experiences of Indigenous people, especially in regards to residential schooling.

We are here to support our community during this time. If you need support, we have our 24/7 Sexual Violence Help Line by phone at 1 866 956 1099 or by webchat at www.casasc.ca

You can also reach the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line by phone 1-866-925-4419

Connecting with community prevents violence

By Kailee Mears

The central Alberta region has many amenities and attractions that draw people to settle in our communities. People from all walks of life choose to settle in our unique towns and neighbourhoods which offer a wide range of services, work, play and opportunities to connect.

Connecting with other people has benefits for our sense of belonging, self esteem, physical and mental health and even violence prevention.

When we feel we know our neighbours, we develop a sense of trust and friendship with them that allows us to better look after each other and our neighbourhoods.

When we connect with our close friends and family, we can better sense their appreciation and companionship, which increases our self-esteem and makes us feel better overall.

When we connect with others through sports, book clubs, walking groups, or working together to complete a neighbourhood task, we can make strides towards improving and maintaining our physical and mental health.

All these parts can contribute to a healthier sense of self and community. An additional bonus is that it can create safer communities that protect against various forms of violence and abuse.

When we are aware of our neighbours, friends and loved ones, we may be better able to spot situations or behaviours that seem “off” or unsafe.

Someone could be using their words or actions to put another person down or make that person feel afraid or controlled. Verbal put downs or social exclusion can make both adults and children feel small and isolated. Physical actions like pushing, slapping or harsh force can be used to punish a person or gain control over them.

Unwanted touching and not respecting a person’s “no” can break their consent and make people feel uncomfortable and unsafe in their relationships or friendships with others.

These behaviours can harm people and make them feel isolated from sources of support like family, neighbours and organizations. These behaviours can lead to bullying, dating violence or family abuse which have no place in our communities.

Connecting with others can create a stronger community that can lean on and look out for each other. We may be better able to recognize behaviours that lead to unsafe relationships.

We can offer our support to those who are impacted by these behaviours with a listening ear, affirming that we believe them and referring to professional support as needed. Saying “hi” to our neighbours, inviting them over for a barbeque, or spending time with those who mean the most to us can go a long way.

Together, we can create a culture free of violence, stronger neighbourhoods and enjoy a fun and safe summer.

CASASC offers a 24 hour help line for those dealing with sexual violence impacts in our community. Call or text 1-866-956-1099, or webchat at www.casasc.ca for confidential support, information and referrals.

Kailee Mears is a prevention educator at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.

Article as published in the Red Deer Advocate.

NEW Session- What happens on a sexual violence help line?

What happens on a 24/7 Sexual Violence Helpline? (60 min)

Join us for an informal session about operating and volunteering on a 24/7 sexual violence helpline.

Supported by volunteers with CASASC and available by phone, text and webchat to anyone in Alberta, the help line provides support to anyone impacted by sexual violence (direct or indirect) and is a resourcing and support service.

Use this opportunity to learn about the help line and how you can utilize it in your community/workplace. Hear what it takes to volunteer on a help line. Help us share this free resource out to our community. We are here for you.

Free, register here

Upcoming dates:

Tue, Oct 18 – 6:00-7:00pm MST

Education Program receives Inspiration Award

The CASASC Education Program is the recipient of a provincial award recognizing leadership in sexual violence prevention.

CASASC Education team members attended the 2022 Inspiration Awards ceremony in Calgary on June 24.

A total of ten Inspiration Awards were presented by the Ministry of Community and Social Services to individuals and groups for their leadership in ending family violence and abuse in communities across the province. Awards recognized leadership in preventing family violence, sexual violence, child abuse and bullying.

The awards were presented by Jason Luan, Minister of Community and Social Services with the Honourable Lois Mitchell acting as Master of Ceremonies.

CASASC received its’ program award for showing leadership in sexual violence prevention.

“Having to adapt to COVID realities, in October 2020 the education program underwent a complete revision of all programming, developing content to virtual teaching modalities and adapting to meet the needs of in-person teaching dynamics,” said Lois Mitchell at the ceremony. “The CASASC Education Program grew in the following months from one solidified program into five formal school offerings for Grades K-12, with full availability to schools and community starting September 2021.

“Through the expansion of programs and age-appropriate content and topics, the education program has contributed to the enhanced awareness and prevention of sexual violence and the creation of healthy relationships for all schools within central Alberta. Offering programs at no-cost and either virtual of in-person delivery models, the education program helps to reduce barriers to their programs and are quickly becoming a recognized and recommended sources for primary prevention programming.”

The CASASC Education Program is a prevention-focused program designed to prevent sexual violence in the central Alberta region. It is the home of educational programming like No Secrets K-4 and Healthy Dating Relationships 101. The team currently consists of five educators who completed 477 presentations in the 2021-2022 school year.

This is the second Inspiration Award received by CASASC. In 2018, CASASC received a group leadership award for offering innovative and comprehensive programs and services.

What we can learn from the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation case

By Sarah Maetche and Carlia Schwab

Like so many out there, we have been combing through the depths of Twitter and reading story after story on the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation trial. After six weeks of testimony, and with the jury currently in deliberation at the time of writing, society has seen a gut-wrenching exposure of these two working actors’ relationship.

Depp, known from the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and Tim Burton films to name a few, claims a 2018 op-ed written by Heard where she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse,” defamed him – his career and his reputation.

Heard, known from films like Aquaman, Justice League and The Danish Girl, has countersued with the claim that Depp’s attorney called her abuse allegations a “hoax.”

The defamation trial taking place in Virgina has been live-streamed and watched by millions across the globe. Depp has received waves of support on TikTok and Twitter, showing the scales of social media justice seem to be tipped his way.

Depp and Heard were married in 2015 after meeting on the set of the film The Rum Diary. Their relationship has been volatile with a highly public divorce, multiple court appearances and accusations of both verbal and physical abuse, including sexual violence during their relationship. The defamation trail has become yet another vehicle baring the shell of their relationship.

After the verdict of the trial is heard, the court of public opinion will also have its’ ruling. In the aftermath of this over exposure, there is much we can learn from this case and how it translates into a review of support services for all survivors of domestic violence.

Individuals will no doubt offer their opinions of the pair’s relationship, the information brought to light during the trial and the outcome of the trial, often in strong alignment to either Heard or Depp’s experiences.

Open dialogue and conversations are needed in this space, shifting away from a Depp vs. Heard, “she said vs. he said” narrative, or victim blaming statements towards an empathetic understanding that both individuals have experiences of being harmed by violence and participating in harmful, often violent, behaviors.

We can learn a lot from this case, in particular how society attributes violence and victim-identifying characteristics disproportionately to one gender over another. Media and public opinion often portray domestic violence impacts and the realities of survivors as highly one-gendered and female supported, often to the detriment of male identified survivors who are too looking for support.

Placing fame, wealth, socio-economic status, popularity, power, privilege, gender and sexual orientation aside, both male and female identified individuals can be impacted by and be survivors of domestic violence.

When engaging in conversations, providing support to disclosures of violence, and deep diving into media stories, we encourage individuals to focus not only on what their beliefs, thoughts and attitudes are about this case, but to be open to alternative ways of understanding domestic and relationship violence. Every individual who has experience violence should be offered support and understanding. They should have access to support without the fear of judgement, retribution, victim blaming or of not being believed.

Over half of adult Albertans have supported, or knows someone, who has experienced sexual violence. Given the highly public and social nature of the Depp vs. Heard defamation case, consider the tone of conversations you have. You can offer an open, unbiased and supportive space for your friends, family and peers to connect and debrief, and seek out resources for support. Remember that anyone of any gender can be impacted by violence and deserves access to support.

Sarah Maetche is the communications and administration manager at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre. Carlia Schwab is the education and community relations manager at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.

Article as published in the Red Deer Advocate.

Ask an Expert Clinical Series – Parenting Conversation 2022

 

Ask an Expert – Parenting + Sexualized Behaviour Conversations With Our Clinical Expert

Join us for an informal 60 minute virtual session with our Child Therapist. Learn information related to parenting and supporting children and youth who display concerning sexualized behaviours.

Or maybe you want to join us to discuss a situation or behaviour your child is engaging in and get some advice on what is developmentally appropriate, how to support and respond.

Our expert will give a short overview of the Sexualized Behaviour Support Program (SBSP) and share about frequent concerns and conversations. This will leave plenty of time for participants to join in a discussion and to both privately and publicly ask questions.

Use this opportunity to connect with our therapist for those unique and one-off questions that you may have but don’t want to go through our client wait list process to speak with a counsellor.

Dates:

Monday, September 26 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. MST

Friday, October 28 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. MST

 

Register via Eventbrite here for all sessions

Education Learning Series 2022

Services + Programs at CASASC (30 min)

Join us for a short 30min session overviewing the programs and services available at CASASC.

– Counselling 

– Police, Community + Court Support 

– Kinship Intervention Program (KIP) 

– 24/7 Sexual Violence Help Line 

– Prevention Education, school presentations for K-12 

Free, Register here

Upcoming dates:

Wed, Oct 19 – 9:00-9:30 am MST

 

Introduction to Sexual Violence (60 min)

Do you want to enhance your knowledge around sexual violence education? Join us as we present an Introduction to Sexual Violence. This presentation is a public awareness and education presentation that introduces, and highlights, definitions and concepts related to sexual violence. We will discuss dispelling myths and stereotypes, talk about victim blaming, the realities of sexual violence, and a brief understanding of supporting disclosures. 

Free, Register here

Upcoming dates:

Fri, Oct 14 – 1:00-2:00 pm MST

 

Consent 101 (60 min)

Join us as we overview basics about Consent and Consent to Sexual Activity, key focus on Consent conversations as it relates to our youth and young people. This program can help you talk about consent with youth and can also help us understand the role of consent in healthy relationships. Definitions, laws + ages of consent, sexting and healthy intimate partner relationships will be some of the information covered. 

Free, Register here

Upcoming dates:

Wed, Sept 21 – 9:00-10:00 am MST

Wed, Sept 21 – 11:00am-12:00 pm MST

Wed, Oct 12 – 9:00-10:00 am MST

Wed, Oct 12 – 11:00am-12:00 pm MST

 

Supporting Disclosures – (45 min)

This session will help to enhance our skills and knowledge around supporting disclosures of sexual violence. An overview of the fundamentals of responding to and supporting disclosure of sexual assault and abuse from children, youth and adults. Learn some key messages and legal obligations when it comes to reporting child abuse.

Free, Register here

Upcoming dates: 

Wed, Oct 26 – 2:00-2:45 pm MST

The power of words in teen dating relationships

By Kailee Mears

With Valentine’s Day and Family Day behind us, we can reflect on how these holidays bring people closer together. Family Day is a day off for many to spend time with family. Valentine’s Day has grown into a day to celebrate love in many forms, including couples or friends.

What you may not have known is that the month of February was also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). TDVAM is meant to raise awareness of the different types of violence teenagers can experience within a dating relationship.

Statistics show that young people between the ages of 15 to 24 have the highest risk of experiencing dating violence.

Dating violence can involve physical abuse like hitting, slapping, pushing or kicking. It can also involve a type of violence called emotional violence.

Emotional violence is the use of words to hurt, intimidate, embarrass or harass a person. It is the most common type of dating violence and often comes before other types of violence. One study suggested that up to 62 per cent of 12 to 18 year old’s have experienced emotional violence while in a dating relationship.

While it may be easy to see the results of physical violence through injuries, it can be difficult to see how words can affect a person emotionally.

As youth grow up, one can expect to hear some version of “don’t let words get the better of you.” While it is important for youth to learn to become resilient, it is important for both youth and adults to recognize when a person’s words are truly harmful, especially when it comes to dating relationships.

One of the first steps you can take is to pay attention when someone is speaking and how their tone makes the youth and those around them, including yourself, feel.

Hearing something like “Why don’t you just shut up?” can make a person feel very small, scared and uncomfortable. Hearing “Oh come on. Everyone is doing it. Just try it once,” could have the effect like they are being pressured into doing something they don’t want to do.

Or even “Why didn’t you text me back? I texted you a lot. What were you doing? Who were you with?” can feel like being controlled by the person saying it – that we cannot do anything without replying to a text message right away or face some sort of punishment. Being independent in a relationship is important. We need to have time to ourselves and with others to maintain our relationships.

If you overhear something that makes you feel off or uncomfortable from the dating partner of a friend, co-worker or youth in your family, it is important to check in with that person. By asking that friend/co-worker/youth how they felt during that conversation and pointing out how you felt may make the youth more aware of how they may have been treated with disrespect. It could give the person a chance to reach out for help if they are uncomfortable with how their partner is speaking to them.

Words can be powerful. It is important for youth and adults to know that they deserve to be spoken to with respect, love and dignity, especially when it comes from a dating partner. If something does not sound right or makes someone feel scared, it is important to say something and seek help.

Kailee Mears is a prevention educator at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.

Article as published in the Red Deer Advocate on March 1, 2022

 

Pink Shirt Day School Activity Guide

 

 

Pink Shirt Day is coming up on February 23rd. This is a day to celebrate the bullying prevention initiatives schools, communities and students do all year.

CASASC would like to offer our support to schools and community by providing a free document of Pink Shirt Day activities, inspiration and colouring pages.

Click the link below to access the Pink Shirt Day School Activity Guide and colouring pages which will allow you to engage students in all grades with bullying prevention-themed activities and opportunities throughout the month of February. Have your efforts this month come together on Pink Shirt Day or another day of your choosing.

Primary prevention is a passion here at CASASC which includes bullying behaviour prevention education. Please take this Pink Shirt Day document as our way of supporting all our Central Alberta communities, schools and students in their efforts to continue building healthy relationships, students and schools. We are here for you, we support you, we care.

 

Pink Shirt Day School Activity Guide

 

Colouring Pages

 

Make sure to share your pink initiatives with us on Twitter or Instagram. We’d love to celebrate with you.

Twitter: @CASASC2

Instagram: @CASASC3

Only Yes Means Yes when it comes to consent

The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) is excited to officially launch the Only Yes Means Yes (OYMY) campaign.

The education, community relations and communications teams have collaborated to create this ongoing poster and awareness campaign around positive consent conversations.

The OYMY campaign challenges our consent conversations by reinforcing that our bodies are always conveying a lack of consent (always saying “no”) and that consent can only happen when a person actively and consciously says “yes” and gives or shows their consent.

Through three simple, relatable posters, CASASC is showing central Albertans what consent can sound and look like, prompting adults to ask the question “Did I get a yes?” and showing what that “yes” can be.

Consent is an important concept in sexual violence prevention. Speaking positively about consent can change our community for the better. OYMY focuses on what positive consent can sound and look like as a way to promote healthy relationships and increase a greater sense of consent culture.

These posters are geared for adult audiences who visit public spaces like bars, restaurants, medical clinics, services agencies and many more. We are asking workplaces to place posters in their staff rooms and places where clients/customers may gather like bathrooms, tables, bulletin boards and gathering spaces in our communities.

We have also developed a FAQ for the campaign that can be used to promote the campaign in the communities we serve.

Over the summer months, OYMY was soft launched into the central Alberta community. Our education team visited over 19 central Alberta communities to have in-person conversations with organizations and business to bring awareness of our services and to share the campaign and posters.