Sexual Assault

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

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.
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Two Reasons Canadians Are Confused About Sexual Consent

A new study from the Canadian Women's Foundation found that while almost all Canadians agree that sexual activity between partners should be consensual, two-thirds do not understand what consent means. If you can't tell if someone is consenting, ask: "Are you okay with this?" Encourage them to answer honestly. Decent people treat others with respect, especially when it comes to something as intimate as sexual activity. Sexual activity without consent is sexual assault. It's all pretty simple.
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Leave a Gentle Footprint in Your Community

I believe we all just want to leave a gentle footprint on this earth, and for me, that means striving to go to bed each night feeling I've made a difference, and hopefully left things better than the way I found them. Am I able to say that I meet that challenge each day -- definitely, "no." Life has a way of getting in the way, and as is most often the case, I'm the one who's in my own way.
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#FHRITP Is Not Simply a Vulgar Prank, It's Sexual Harassment

I've been a Toronto FC season's ticket holder for five years and I'm the mother of TFCs most devoted fan. So it was my 13-year-old TFC enthusiast who was the first person I wanted to talk to about the appalling sexual harassment at the Mothers Day match when a fan shouted "F--- her right in the pussy" at CityNews reporter, Shauna Hunt. Turns out our kids have been sharing this offensive "prank" for a year and most of us hadn't really heard about it or thought to talk to them about it until this week. Shouting "F--- her right in the pussy" is sexual harassment, verbal assault and a blatant threat of rape.
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Most Parents Support the New Sex Ed Curriculum - With Good Reason

The misinformation about the new curriculum rivals the inaccuracies kids get about sex from their friends and our culture. Some parents are convinced that their kids will be asked to touch themselves at school. The actual curriculum stresses respecting yourself and respecting others. If you oppose it, fine. At least know what you are opposing. Parents are entitled to pass on their religious or moral beliefs to their kids, but they are not entitled to pass on their religious or moral beliefs to my child. By trying to force the Ontario government to yank the evidence-based, updated portions of the health curriculum for all Ontario kids, they are trying to prevent the majority who support this initiative from benefiting from it. And that's wrong.
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I Wasn't Raped, But I Want to Talk About Being Violated

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.
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Why Did the Government Cut a Program That Stopped Sex Offenders From Reoffending?

The Circles of Support and Accountability model matches released high-risk sex offenders with three to five volunteers who generally meet weekly to offer support, friendship and no-nonsense accountability. Two per cent of CoSA participants sexually reoffended over the three years following release from prison, compared to 28 percent among similar populations not enrolled in the program.
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Let's Believe Women Who Report Sexual Assault

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.
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The Most Heartbreaking Question My Daughter Ever Asked Me

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.
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Dalhousie Dentistry Forgot About the Dangers of Social Media

Though I am about as much of a dentist as I am a squirrel, the Dalhousie Dentistry scandal cannot be ignored, even by a humble B.F.A, such as myself. Of course, I was outraged by the misogynistic nature of a Facebook page that was created for the express purpose of debasing women within the dentistry program. However, the first thought that ran through my mind wasn't outrage over their sexist remarks.

'Gone Girl' and Sexual Assault

Gone Girl was one of the movies that I was most excited to see this year. I love David FIncher's work, and being something of a feminist, I was intrigued by a thriller penned by a woman. I didn't know...
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25 Years After the Montreal Massacre, Gender-Based Violence Still Thrives

When the gunman, a rejected engineering student, shot those young women he was enraged that they were pursuing studies in a profession he believed was meant for men. That was a quarter of a century ago. Today, more and more women are flooding into professions, including engineering, once considered male preserves, but there is still so much more progress to be made in changing those attitudes that enable gender-based violence.
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Don't Call the Conversation About Sexual Assault Pointless

Online, over the phone and around dinner tables, Canadians are turning the problem of sexual assault around like a Rubik's Cube in an effort to make sense of why 90 per cent of all sex assaults go unreported. Since the Jian Ghomeshi allegations broke, the discussion has widened in scope after two Liberal MPs were recently suspended for alleged "personal misconduct" and former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps revealed she had been raped and sexually assaulted as a young woman. Yet some insist all the talk is futile. Many say that instead of words, we need legal reforms that would encourage women to come forward. But conversation is one of the best ways to change minds.