May. 07, 2015
May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
With an estimated one in three Canadian women experiencing sexual assault sometime in their adult life, the Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program of St. Joseph’s Health Care London is urging everyone to talk about consent and the importance of ending the stigma attached to sexual assault.
Confronting the reality of sexual assault can feel frightening, unnerving and at times overwhelming, says Leah Marshall, who is completing her master of social work practicum at St. Joseph’s. “The culture that surrounds sexual assault and harassment is not only widespread but also deeply ingrained in our Canadian society. We live in a culture where dominant ideas, social practices, media images and societal institutions implicitly or explicitly condone sexual assault by normalizing or trivializing sexual violence and by blaming survivors for their own abuse.”
Earlier this year the Ontario Government released It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan To Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment, which outlines a series of commitments and a roadmap for ongoing work to end sexual violence and harassment in Ontario. Most importantly, says Marshall, it’s a call to action for all Ontarians to achieve important social change and progress together.
“Start by having a conversation about consent and the importance of a shift from the current culture to one where consent is understood, recognized, respected and ultimately becomes the new status quo,” says Marshall.
A culture of consent, she says, is: “voluntary, sober, enthusiastic, non-coerced, continual, active and honest.”
“Have conversations with your children, family and friends and educate yourself about what constitutes consent. The conversation matters because all one has to do is open a newspaper, turn on the television or listen to the radio to hear stories of individuals who have experienced a sexual assault in our community. To hear stories where consent was not given or not respected. With this knowledge and understanding together we can create a new culture, a culture of consent.”
For more information:
About St. Joseph’s Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program