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:
–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.