#YourWordsMatter at Red Deer College

Your words matter. The language we use to talk about others and explain our experiences matter. Words can be seen as a form of gender-based violence (GBV).

The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) continued its’ mission to eliminate sexual violence by partnering with the Students’ Association of Red Deer College (SA) for #YourWordsMatter, an GBV awareness event.

#YourWordsMatter, the awareness and info fair and silent march through campus, occurred on Thursday, Nov. 28 at Red Deer College.

The purpose of this event was to bring awareness to the widespread issue of GBV within our society. GBV can be defined as violence that is directed at an individual based on their gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender. It includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, threats, coercion, and economic or educational deprivation, whether occurring in public or private life.

#YourWordsMatter was hosted on the fourth day of the SA’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which began on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ended on International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.

The awareness and info fair featured interactive displays, resources and information about eliminating GBV in our community.

For the first time on the RDC campus, a silent march was held. This was meant to be a quiet and proactive, yet visual way to bring awareness to GBV throughout the RDC main campus. The silent march departed from the Forum at 11:45 a.m. with attendees wearing purple and carrying positive messaging around the prevention of GBV in our community.

Everyone was encouraged to wear purple on the day – to show support for survivors of GBV. A special edition purple #iRespect t-shirt was also released on this day.

What is gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence (GBV) is violence that is directed at an individual based on their gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender. It includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, threats, coercion, and economic or educational deprivation, whether occurring in public or private life.

In Canada, GBV disproportionately impacts women and girls, as well as other diverse populations like Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQI2+ and non-binary individuals, those living in northern, rural, and remote communities, people with disabilities, newcomers, children and youth, and seniors.

GBV is not limited to physical abuse but includes words, actions, or attempts to degrade, control, humiliate, intimidate, coerce, deprive, threaten, or harm another person.

Why is this important?

Individuals in Canada and around the world continue to face violence each and every day.

GBV can manifest in many different forms. GBV can happen in the private or public sphere, in kitchens, bedrooms and streets, stores and boardrooms or in refugee camps. It can include street harassment (like groping, cat calling, whistling, or unwanted attention in public spaces), sexual assault, sexual harassment and intimate partner violence.

The roots of GBV are all around us – in sexist jokes that demean women, in media messages that objectify women, in the rigid gender norms we impose on children.

Why #YourWordsMatter

Words matter. Your words matter. The language we use to talk about others and explain our experiences matter.

Words, the language we use, can be a form of GBV.

Intentionally using someone’s incorrect name or pronoun is an act of GBV.

Joking about that girl’s body from your class with your buddies is an act of GBV.

Making threats to harm another person is an act of GBV.

Calling someone a name, bullying, humiliating or insulting them on Instagram is an act of GBV.

Making fun of someone’s faith or religion is an act of GBV.

Making online threats to someone’s children, family, pets or friends that cause fear is an act of GBV.

Sending sexually explicit texts and photos of your genitals to someone without their consent is an act of GBV.

Your words matter. You can help take action against GBV by using your words to question, call out or speak up against GBV acts.

Your words can empower others. Your words can inspire others. Your words have power.

#YourWordsMatter

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