The Path To Freedom Starts With Recognizing We Are Not Free

Diane Hill | Posted 11.23.2015 | Canada Living
Diane Hill

The park is almost dark. As I watch my shadow, I notice my hips swaying back and forth as I walk. I wonder if my walk is provocative. I am alone on the path. I wish there was someone else around, then I think: "But what if it's a guy? Or two guys?" These are women's thoughts. These thoughts spring from the subconscious knowledge that we are never safe. At any moment, we might be targeted, perhaps hunted like an animal. We are always potential prey. In our attempts to stay safe, we behave. We speak politely and avoid eye contact. We twist our lives and stay small. In the process, we can become completely detached from who we might have been.

Sexual Violence And Harassment Is Never Okay

Kathleen Wynne | Posted 11.19.2015 | Canada Living
Kathleen Wynne

Those who are affected by sexual violence and harassment do not feel safe, they do not feel heard, and they do not feel they can come forward. But little by little, we are making a positive change. And we're doing this by educating, empowering and informing people that sexual violence and harassment is never okay. Because we can and must change -- change the way we talk about sexual violence and harassment, how we confront misogyny and sexism, how we teach young people what consent means.

Finding Your Way Back From Sexual Violence

Jean-Paul Bedard | Posted 11.18.2015 | Canada Living
Jean-Paul Bedard

I want you to see the 'real' me -- a man who has been running his entire life, a man who has travelled so far, only to come back to himself. My name is Jean-Paul, and I am a survivor of sexual violence, but I am so much more than that. I am a husband. I am a father. I am a writer. I am an elite athlete. I am an advocate for survivors all around the world.

We Need A Responsible Timeline For Canada's Refugee Commitment

Catherine Chatterley | Posted 11.18.2015 | Canada Politics
Catherine Chatterley

Unfortunately, there is a stubborn quality to the Prime Minister's current commitment to meet his election promise of admitting 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by Christmas. There is an easy solution to this current impasse between the facts on the ground today and an election promise made months ago. Set a reasonable timeline and follow the responsible policies of the American government.

Society Is Silent When The Victims Are Black And Female

ByBlacks.com | Posted 11.10.2015 | Canada Impact

With the current trial of fired Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, there is a marked difference in how this particular case of police brutality has been regarded, leading some to ask, "Does the world care about the victim when the victim is a black woman?"

#BeenRapedNeverReported: A Year Later, Has Anything Changed?

The Huffington Post Canada | Angelyn Francis | Posted 11.02.2015 | Canada Living

"We're still in the talking stage" when it comes to sexual assault, says one of the hashtag's co-creators.

We Need To Keep Speaking Up And Out On Sexual Violence

Jean-Paul Bedard | Posted 11.01.2015 | Canada Living
Jean-Paul Bedard

What would I like to see the #BeenRapedNeverReported campaign become? Before any meaningful change can occur, we need to work towards pulling back the layers of stigma. If we are unable to talk openly, how can we expect survivors of sexual violence to come forward with their own experiences with trauma?

No Act Of Sexual Violence Should Be Ignored

ByBlacks.com | Posted 11.01.2015 | Canada Living

The officer was quick to side with my attacker, making me feel that because I wasn't actually raped, I was making "more" out of this attack. He made me feel like I should just brush it off as "some drunk guy", and that it wasn't a big deal that this man forcefully shoved his hand between my thighs.

Proving Rape Survivors' Resilience One Step at a Time

Jean-Paul Bedard | Posted 10.16.2015 | Canada Living
Jean-Paul Bedard

On Oct. 18, I will be running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon three times on the same day (126.6 km) in support of the #ItsNeverOkay campaign, a governmental and media campaign that reminds us that we all have a role in speaking up when we see situations of sexual violence or harassment.

Black Voices Must Be Heard in the Conversation About Gender Violence

Black Lives Matter – Toronto | Posted 10.01.2015 | Canada Impact
Black Lives Matter – Toronto

Despite the Black Lives Matter movement focusing media attention on how violence affects black communities, the experiences of women and girls have not received the same sustained media attention and outcry as the experiences of men. Our voices are routinely excluded from political and public discourse. It's critical for us to make an intervention.

My Attitude Towards Bill Cosby's Accusers Revealed I'm Sexist

Jason Najum | Posted 08.13.2015 | Canada Living
Jason Najum

We didn't want to believe it. Not him. Politicians. Athletes. But not Dr. Huxtable. Please. Bill Cosby meant a lot to so many of us, a big part of why we were so slow to pass judgement. For those growing up in the 1960s and 1970s he was a clean cut comedian doing things the right way.

I Was Raped - and We Need to Talk About it

Jean-Paul Bedard | Posted 08.11.2015 | Canada Living
Jean-Paul Bedard

Two years before I entered high school, I was the victim of a violent rape that took place a mere few kilometres from the football locker room I was now standing in. From the moment of that assault, I chose to disappear, fractured into different people -- the person I was afraid to let you see, the person I wanted you to see, and the young man who struggled with that internal turmoil every day for the next 30 years. I've heard that living as a survivor of rape is like living with a secret tumor. It metastasizes in the dark hollows of shame, and it continues to destabilize and corrupt every bond and every relationship in a survivor's life.

We Must Break the Silence to Bring an End to Rape Culture

Jean-Paul Bedard | Posted 07.09.2015 | Canada Living
Jean-Paul Bedard

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.

I'm Running a Triple Marathon to Show the Resilience of Sexual Assault Survivors

Jean-Paul Bedard | Posted 06.08.2015 | Canada Living
Jean-Paul Bedard

As a scared child, I ran away from the abuse around me, and as an adult, I used drugs and alcohol to run away from the trauma inside me. But here's the interesting part -- shortly after I got clean and sober, I actually took up the sport of running. This fall, I will be running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon three times in the same day (126.6 km), not as a fundraiser, but simply to show others how resilient we are, even after the trauma of sexual violence. But most importantly, I hope that my campaign will build upon the momentum we are starting to see in the media about the prevalence of sexual violence and the need to address the countless lives that lay in its wake.

I've Learned to Live With PTSD

Jean-Paul Bedard | Posted 06.04.2015 | Canada Living
Jean-Paul Bedard

My name is Jean-Paul, and I am in treatment for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Hearing me say that usually elicits one of two responses in people -- abject pity or recoiling fear. I want you to know that I understand where you're coming from, but allow me a few minutes to see if we can change this dialogue.

I Wasn't Raped, But I Want to Talk About Being Violated

Rachel Bulatovich | Posted 06.29.2015 | Canada Living
Rachel Bulatovich

To call what happened to me "rape" would be dishonest and disrespectful to survivors of rape. I was, however, a prime candidate for rape twice in my life, and escaped by the skin of my teeth both times. Our society seems to think it's rape or bust: minor sexual assaults are tragically unreported, and this is why I'm writing this piece: I want to change that. If every woman who's been a victim tells her story, we can start to stitch together a narrative of sexual violence, the understanding of which is the first step towards eradicating it. I know it's difficult to tell people about experiences where you weren't in control, but think of it this way: by speaking about your experiences, you're giving a voice to other victims, past, present and future.

What Is Our Government Doing to Advance Women's Rights?

Kathryn Marshall | Posted 05.08.2015 | Canada Politics
Kathryn Marshall

It is clear that even in 2015, there is a lot of work to be done both at home and abroad to advance the rights and equality of women. Let's take a peek at what the federal political parties in this country are doing to make a difference.

Let's Believe Women Who Report Sexual Assault

Lee Tunstall | Posted 05.06.2015 | Canada Living
Lee Tunstall

Survivors of sexual assault experience a great deal of shame and guilt, particularly young women, as they internalize the victim-blaming messages conveyed by the media. This often keeps them from seeking the support they so desperately need. This International Women's Day, we need to encourage more initiatives that are centred on girls and young women. We need to commit to eliminating barriers to accessing support for survivors of sexual violence. And we need to support projects that deconstruct and challenge rape culture. But most importantly, we must listen and believe young women when they speak.

How I Struggled With Adulthood After Being Molested As a Child

TamilCulture | Posted 05.02.2015 | Canada Living

Of the six South Asians I entrusted with this information, four have had similar sexually abusive experiences. This problem needs to be discussed more aggressively within the South Asian community. Parents need to be aware that our community is not immune from sexual predators. They come in the form of uncles, fathers, brothers, and friends. More often than not, it's someone you know.

How Running Helped Me Overcome Addiction

Jean-Paul Bedard | Posted 03.31.2015 | Canada Living
Jean-Paul Bedard

If I look at a snapshot of my life 18 years ago, I see a young man ravaged by a spiraling alcohol and drug addiction, a man fractured in spirit desperate to claw his way out of the darkest hell of a deep depression. Shortly after entering a treatment program to deal with my addiction issues, I took my first tentative steps into the world of running. Before I knew it, I had found my "people." I had stumbled upon my "tribe."

We Need To Change These Everyday Responses To Sexual Violence

The Huffington Post Canada | Amy Legate-Wolfe | Posted 01.13.2015 | Canada Living

Bill Cosby may think he can laugh off allegations of sexual assault, but Hollywood won't let him off so easily. At his comedy show in London last T...

One Woman's Escape From Poverty, Rape and Abusive Marriage

Anne Day | Posted 03.07.2015 | Canada Living
Anne Day

Poverty. Rape. Abusive marriage. A son sold by his grandmother. Human trafficking. Prison. Most of us would not have survived any one of these life ...

What I Hear When You Call My Unborn Daughter a "Drama Queen"

Vicki Murphy | Posted 02.09.2015 | Canada Living
Vicki Murphy

"Good luck with the little drama queen," they say when they find out I'm expecting a girl. It seems we gals have a rep right out of the womb -- as dramatic, irrational whack-jobs. So, when one of us is assaulted and comes forward, many people instantly think: oh she's exaggerating, seeking attention or revenge or a payday. It's a pattern, after all.

A Letter to My Son About Jian Ghomeshi

Robin Farr | Posted 01.19.2015 | Canada Alberta
Robin Farr

This letter was written by my husband and he has agreed to let me share it here. I hope it inspires you as much as it inspires me. One of the first girls I dated had been raped by a past boyfriend. She went to court and wasn't able to prove that he did anything they hadn't consented to, so he wasn't punished. At the time, she lived in a small town and the gossip forced her family to move away. Before her, I don't think I was really that aware of rape or consent. I'm sure that I'd had the "no means no" conversation in health class but until her it didn't really mean that much to me.

Disbelief Is Rape Culture's Strongest Ally

Olivia Collette | Posted 01.11.2015 | Canada Living
Olivia Collette

It's normal that we don't want to believe the absolute worst about ourselves, but until we come to terms with how we create and participate in what we are, we can't possibly expect to correct any injustices.