Shine a Light on Sexual Violence: Your 2019 Guide to SVAM

 

The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) is dedicated to supporting those affected by sexual violence each and every day of the year. In Alberta, May is Sexual Violence Awareness Month (SVAM). The goal of SVAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities on how to prevent it.

The theme of SVAM this year is Shine a Light on Sexual Violence. We know that one month alone isn’t enough to solve the widespread issue of sexual violence; however, the attention we generate during the month is an opportunity to energize and expand prevention efforts throughout the year.

 

About Shine A Light

Sexual Violence Awareness Month is about more than awareness – the ultimate goal is prevention. This year’s theme centres around shining a light on the issue of sexual violence, bringing out an often taboo topic to the light of the public realm. Whether it is talking about the issue of consent, taking action, or stepping toward prevention through respect and education – sexual violence needs to be addressed.

Survivors of sexual violence often feel they are hiding in the dark, that they cannot come forward. One client expressed to us that she felt like “pulling the blankets over her head,” after her experience. A child age client supported by CASASC had this to say to other survivors: “Hold on. Someone needs to hear your story. Don’t give up. I refuse to sink. Don’t let anyone dull your shine! Stars can’t shine without darkness.”

Through the light, we can move forward and heal. Through the light we can take steps toward prevention. This is why we shine a light on sexual violence.

 

Key Messages: Sexual Violence and Prevention

Sexual violence is a serious and widespread problem. Anyone can experience sexual violence in their lifetime, however most incidents occur against women and girls.

In Canada, 87 per cent of survivors are women and girls. Ninety-four per cent of offenders are men. Sexual violence is the most underreported crime in Canada. Ninety-five per cent of survivors do not report their assaults to the police.

Statistics also show that some groups are more likely to experience sexual violence including: Indigenous women and girls, children and adolescents, people with disabilities, those of the LGBTQ community and new Canadians.

When we speak about prevention, we mean stopping sexual violence before it even has a chance to happen. This means changing the social norms that allow it to exist in the first place, from individual attitudes, values, and behaviors to laws, institutions, and widespread social norms. CASASC believes this is achieved through the concept of respect.

Prevention is all our responsibility. We can create and promote safe respectful environments through all facets of our lives. We can intervene to stop concerning behavior; promote and model healthy attitudes and relationships; promote the creation of a culture of respect; and believe survivors and assist them in finding the support they need.

 

How You Can Stay Involved All Month Long

Each week in May we’re featuring different ways you can get involved by promoting awareness and taking action. Want to get involved? We’ve got you covered. We’ve created custom SVAM graphics for you to share, tweet and tag CASASC throughout the month, along with many other resources:

 

Respect Day

Your week-to-week guide: Shine A Light

Week 1: Consent (May 1 – May 7)

Week 2: Action (May 8 – May 14)

Week 3: Respect (May 15 – May 21)

Week 4: Education (May 22 – May 28)

 

Checking your social media feeds anyway? Follow CASASC on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook where we will be sharing information, statistics, resources and graphics for SVAM throughout the month of May. Share our posts, tag CASASC and encourage others to do the same.

Changing the Conversation

Sexual violence was the topic last Thursday at Changing the Conversation – an awareness event at Red Deer College (RDC).

Organized by two RDC students with the support of the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) and the RDC Students’ Association, the purpose of the event was to create awareness around sexual violence, including rape prevention, victim blaming, consent and respect. The organizers’ goal is to shift the focus from placing blame on the victim to the perpetrators of these crimes.

Attendees perused the information booth and were handed a bag of tea, connected to the “consent as tea” video the students had playing as one of the information items.

The event positively showcased the benefits of creating a culture of respect. Feedback from students and faculty was encouraging.

This is the third year for the health promotion and prevention project between the three organizers. Last year’s two events were titled “Are you SEXcessful?,” an awareness and guidance event about positive sexual health and “This is What I Was Wearing When It Happened”, a reflection event bringing awareness around victim blaming and the stigma surrounding women’s clothing as the reason why they were sexually assaulted.

 

#IBelieveYou… Now What?

“I Believe You… now what?” was the topic of discussion on November 22 at a student-led forum at Red Deer College (RDC).

The Margaret Parsons Theatre was a full house, with several panelists speaking on the issue of sexual violence.

Two student ambassadors designed the evening event as part of the 2018 I Believe You campaign. The keynote event of the campaign featured six panelists from several disciplines and schools of thought within RDC including Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, Philosophy and Criminal Justice.

Each panelist presented briefly from their perspective, which was followed by a question and answer period from students and the general public who were in attendance.

The evening was well attended and brought out a thoughtful discussion, to be continued on in to daily life, surrounding victim blaming, false reporting and the concept of creating a culture of respect.

 

The Ghomeshi Effect to hit the stage in Red Deer

With sexual violence dominating the news cycle and social media feeds, Ottawa’s award-winning documentary dance-theatre performance The Ghomeshi Effect offers a nuanced exploration of how the legal system handles sexual assault cases in Canada.

Following a limited run at the University of Ottawa’s LabO Theatre from October 23 to 27, the play will tour universities and communities in Ontario and Alberta, including London, Sudbury, North Bay, Cochrane and Area, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Edmonton and Fort McMurray. All performances are followed by a talkback with expert panellists from each community.

The Ghomeshi Effect will be presented in Red Deer by the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) on Friday, November 9 at the Red Deer Memorial Centre. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $5 per person.

In the aftermath of #MeToo and #TimesUp, The Ghomeshi Effect shares real-life stories of survivors alongside interviews with lawyers, academics, and support workers, and offers new perspectives and opportunities for open discussion through words and movement.

“We need to talk about this,” said Jessica Ruano, writer and director of The Ghomeshi Effect. “We need to find new ways of talking about it. We need to have conversations that move beyond provocative news articles and Facebook battles that are eliciting strong reactions, yet further dividing us.”

CASASC Executive Director Patricia Arango says the not-for-profit is thrilled to bring the impactful production to the central Alberta region.

“Through The Ghomeshi Effect, we can have a conversation on the topic of sexual violence and invite people to work together to prevent sexual violence,” said Arango. “We as a society need to recover our freedom and no longer live in fear. It begins first as a conversation, working towards preventing sexual violence in our community.”

The Ghomeshi Effect tackles sexual violence in Canada, particularly how it is handled in the legal system, through an edited series of documented interviews, and uses dance to inform and interrogate the language used in the discussion of sexual violence.

Written and directed by Jessica Ruano (2017 Femmy Award Winner) and choreographed by Amelia Griffin, this production features performers Nayeli Abrego, Leah Archambault, Elizabeth Emond-Stevenson, Gabrielle Lalonde, Joy Mwandemange, Emmanuel Simon, and Michael Swatton, as well as the work of lighting designer Benoît Brunet-Poirier and sound designer Martin Dawagne.

The Ghomeshi Effect was originally presented as part of The Gladstone’s 2016-17 Season and played at the Shenkman Arts Centre. Since then, members of the team have presented at the LEAF Gala in Toronto, International Women’s Day Ottawa, and Take Back the Night – Lanark County.

The Ghomeshi Effect acknowledges funding support from the Ontario Arts Council and the Alberta Status of Women.

Tickets are available through The Black Knight Ticket Centre (in person, by phone 403-343-6666 or online at https://tickets.blackknightinn.ca) or at the CASASC main office. High school students receive complimentary entrance at the door with a valid high school id.

For more information visit: https://theghomeshieffect.com/