Sexual Assault

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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.
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#BeenRapedNeverReported: What Happens Now? You Told Us

"Believe them, do not question their story, do not pressure or guilt trip them to report. It is not the victim's job to put a rapist in jail, they don't need that added stress and pressure on top of the terrible things already done to them, coming forward and telling someone is difficult enough. it is the rapist's job NOT TO RAPE. Teach young men and women how to respect boundaries and speak out against violent sexual behaviours."
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#BeenRapedNeverReported Should Be About Solutions, Not Gender

I feel guilty in some weird way for entering into this debate that has been eye-opening for so many people, as it sheds light on how many female victims of sexual assault are among us. As a man, and as a survivor of rape myself, I worry that adding my voice to this might in some way usurp or direct the conversation away from highlighting the abuse of women in our society. But part of me thinks that this shouldn't be a debate about men or women, but rather, it should be about creating a culture in which stepping forward and disclosing sexual assault becomes a much more supportive and empowering experience.
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Sexual Freedom Is No Excuse for Sexual Assault

For many years, I have wondered what might be the limit of our tolerance for sexual freedoms. I have no doubt that that tolerance ends when those sexual freedoms infringe on the dominion, to use Ghomeshi's word, of one's own body. Given how difficult it is to determine when that is the case, or is not the case, however, I suspect we will be hearing many more stories of "poor persecuted perverts."
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You Don't Need to Act Like a Lawyer in the Court of Public Opinion

"Innocent until proven guilty" is a criminal law concept used in conjunction with the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard to guarantee an important legal doctrine: it's better for guilty people to go free than infringe the liberty of the innocent. This high threshold isn't used in civil action, where judges decide guilt on the balance of probabilities standard. And it certainly isn't required in Facebook or any public forum of debate. There may be two different accounts of the same incident; that's OK. Trust me when I say, there is no need to Columbo such a situation.
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Why We Need To Remove the Stigma Around Men Who Seek Therapy

I started by telling you about my own experience in the world of abuse. I did this because those experiences are what helped me understand the importance of healing in light of a frightening situation. These women -- our sisters -- need our support and understanding to heal. But we cannot forget the men. At some point we are going to have to turn around and help heal this man. Many will think he is undeserving, but he too experienced trauma in his life which he has had to cope with. I'm not talking about forgiveness, I'm talking about compassion.
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Don't Shame Sexual Assault Survivors

If you don't believe her, then you'd probably never believe me. When I was 19 years old, I became part of the "one in five" statistic. The one that dictates one in every five women in post-secondary education will be raped. But from the way the public has reacted to the allegations around Jian Ghomeshi, I doubt many would believe me. I am bombarded by various news updates about Jian Ghomeshi. And as a result I am bombarded by various comments: she's attention seeking, she's lying. Every moment is a reminder: if you don't believe her, you would never believe me.
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I Care About Eight Alleged Victims, Not Jian's "Due Process"

This story broke with four women. This morning as I write this the number is up to eight, including the very much loved "Trailer Park Boys" actress Lucy DeCoutere. How high does the number have to go before we're able see the stinking rot through all the blinding smoke and roses? Why are we so willing to let this system stay the way it is? Why do words like "due process" and "innocent until proven guilty" sting so much? Why aren't we fixing this?
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Why Is Ottawa's Hockey Team So Apathetic Towards Sexual Assault?

While it is legitimate for the players who weren't in Thunder Bay that night or weren't aware that an assault took place to feel a deep sense of injustice, I would like to shed a light on an obvious fact that has been quite irritating since the beginning of the investigation. None of the players in the team have spoken up and publicly condemned what has happened: not one.
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Every Second Woman You See Has Been a Victim of Violence

The reality is that domestic abuse is far too common in society and that includes Canada. According to a Statistics Canada study 50 per cent of women in Canada have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. Think about that for a minute. Look around your office, your classroom, the street your walking on; statistically every second women you see will have suffered violence. And domestic violence is not just limited to people we don't know or people we don't see. Think about your friends and your family, your co-workers, and your classmates -- any of them could be victims of domestic violence.
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Former Alberta Teacher Unjustly Detained in Indonesia

I know the Bantlemans, and I too have taught at international schools in Asia. I met my husband--a guy from Edmonton--in the Middle East, and we had twins in Bangkok. I know the lure and the realization of what Mrs. Bantleman describes as wanting "to learn more about the culture and the people" of a far off land. I also can imagine how powerless you would be if incarcerated in a foreign country.
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It's Time to Connect the Dots on Gender-Based Violence

When the headlines fade, the daily, persistent, and pervasive violence against girls and women around the world will continue unabated and generally unreported. And it will persist until people and their governments start connecting the dots between these headline-making atrocities and the everyday, out of the headlines, violence targeted at girls and women on public streets, in the household, in the workplace, and in and around schools and why these incidents happen.
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It's Been One Year to the Day Since I Last Saw Rehtaeh Alive

Today marks one year since I last saw my daughter Rehtaeh alive. The last time we spoke, the last good bye, and the last "I love you." She got out of my car and walked into her mom's house. On the way home she asked if we could stop at McDonald's. How I wish we did, one last time. Rae passed away April 7, 2013. It's been a year-long nightmare but I try to keep hold of myself. Now that I'm outspoken about our daughter's struggles I've unfortunately attracted the attention of the worst society has to offer. They send messages reminding me Rehtaeh is "worm food," she's dead because I failed as a father. But it's mainly through talking that I've learned the difference Rehtaeh made and the impact she's had on others.
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Men Must Give Up Some Privilege For Violence Against Women to End

Fear is a tactic repeatedly used to stop the denunciation of violence against women and to keep women oppressed. This fear forced on women by the patriarchal social order encourages women to remain silent and allows society to mask men's violence. Individually and collectively, we ask men to reflect on the ways in which they can question the exercising dynamics of power against women and contribute to the denunciation of men's superiority and domination.
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Let's Stop Denying That Doctors Can Be Sexual Predators

Tuesday's sentencing of anaesthesiologist George Doodnaught -- to a decade in jail for sexually assaulting 21 women under his care during surgery -- should have been good news. But I read this comment from the presiding judge: "There are no reported Canadian cases in which an anaesthesiologist sexually assaulted sedated patients in an operating room during surgery." This has happened before, and in my home town.
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Men Should Stand Up to Rapists, Not Befriend Them

Rapists rely on other men to excuse and justify their crimes against women. Other men who'll laugh at their jokes, invite them to parties, play sports with them, introduce them to other women. Men who'll give them jobs, feed them, and help them blame their victims even if it's by indifference. Men, good men, need to stand up and do to rapists and their supporters what we do to child molesters. Imagine the difference it would make if a man who jokes about rape and always doubts victims entered a room to silence, whispers, stares, and looks of disgust from other men. There is no difference between a man who rapes and a man who befriends and defends him.
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How To Undermine a Rape Victim: Woody Allen Edition

Do not treat the victim as if they are a person with agency and thoughts and feelings. Tell yourself that it's rational and logical to want to know all sides of the story, though you never want to know the other side, the perpetrator's side, when your house is broken into or your wallet is stolen or your child is hit by a car. Tell yourself that we can never know for sure what happened and since a man's life can be destroyed by accusations of rape, it's best to err on the side of caution. Do not think about the girl whose life was destroyed when she was seven. Above all, never, ever, ever think about the ways that you might be complicit in this.