Whether we're talking about sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape, or date rape, it's important we don't get caught up in the semantics or the nuances of the language we choose. When I read the news stories about the accusations against Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi, I shudder at the fact that for many of us, our first reaction is to dismiss, or question, the assertions brought forth by the "alleged" victims who after years of isolation and devastation, have finally arrived at a place where they feel they can speak out.
Why, in a time when we have more information available to us than ever, when WHO member states have adopted "a historic" resolution to address violence against women and girls, and when consent is being introduced into school curricula in some Canadian provinces, does violence against women still remain largely hidden?
No question from my oldest daughter has torn more at my heart. A discussion about never taking rides with strangers unexpectedly morphed into a talk about sexual assault. "Mom," she whispered tentatively. "Do you mean that someone can just sneak up and do THAT to me?" My heart lurched into my throat. Until that moment, my bright-eyed daughter lived blissfully unaware of the fact that women can be raped. I was rendered momentarily speechless.
I don't feel I can sit and watch Bill Cosby on stage and not think about what those 29 women have said. I saw that there was an alternate event being held the same night as a fundraiser in support of sexual assault survivors. It felt like an event that I could attend, have a good time and feel good about.