St. Joseph's kick starts the conversation about consent

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:

Dahlia Reich, Communication Consultant
St. Joseph’s Health Care London
519.646.6100 ext. 65294


About St. Joseph’s Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program

The Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program is located at St. Joseph’s Hospital and provides care for women, children, and men who have experienced sexual assault and/or domestic violence living in Oxford, Elgin and Middlesex counties. A team of specialized nurses, doctors and a social worker is available to provide care at the time of the assault and in the months following the incident.  St. Joseph’s Hospital is the only facility in the area that conducts forensic examinations associated with an assault.  Individuals can access the program by going to St. Joseph’s Urgent Care Centre or any emergency department in London, Middlesex, Oxford, or Elgin Counties and asking to speak to the nurse on call for sexual assault/domestic violence. They can also call the program at 519-646-6100, ext. 64224 to book an appointment for medical care and/or counselling. After hours, individuals can call 519 646-6100, press "0" and ask switchboard to page the nurse-on-call for sexual assault and domestic violence.


About St. Joseph’s Health Care London

Renowned for compassionate care, St. Joseph’s Health Care London is a leading academic health care centre in Canada dedicated to helping people live to their fullest by minimizing the effects of injury, disease and disability through excellence in care, teaching and research. Through partnership with Lawson Health Research Institute and our collaborative engagement with other health care and academic partners, St. Joseph’s has become an international leader in the areas of: chronic disease management; medical imaging; specialized mental health care; rehabilitation and specialized geriatrics; and surgery.  St. Joseph’s operates through a wide range of hospital, clinic and long-term and community based settings, including: St. Joseph’s Hospital; Parkwood Institute; Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care; and the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care.

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