Here in Ontario, May is Sexual Violence Prevention Month. In other locations, the month may instead be referred to as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Draw the Line (OCRCC)‘s use of language offers a helpful distinction:
Last year, the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC) discussed how since #MeToo, the drive for awareness was successful. Disclosures that were shared began to lift the shame and stigma attached to conversations around sexual violence.
With this culture shift, the OCRCC chose to shift from awareness to prevention. The choice of wording, in using ‘violence’ as opposed to ‘assault,’ was also intentional, in an effort to move away from a legal term and shift emphasis to the experience and impact of sexual violence.
- sharing free bystander intervention support resources (including youth-focused, 2SLGBTQ+ and Indigenous perspectives)
- providing sexual violence prevention education
- collaborating with Ontario sexual assault centres and partner organizations
Test your knowledge on consent and bystander intervention by taking the Draw the Line Quiz!
Supporting + Amplifying Survivor Voices in Creative Ways
Did you know that the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre carried out two art-based projects centering the dignity, resilience and voices of survivors of sexual violence?
Honouring Our Stories (2016-2018): A community-engaged project that aimed to address sexual violence and harassment against women through arts-based activities. We partnered with the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and Thunder Bay Police to focus on the dignity of women who have survived sexual violence. Some key conversations that took place include: exploring how trauma affects and connects survivors and participants; recognizing the gaps in the system to holding perpetrators to account; different forms of coping and healing; what responses survivors experienced after disclosure; and associations and public perceptions of survivors and victims. Funded by the Ontario Arts Council, the Honouring Our Stories Project culminated in the Spring of 2018 with a formal exhibit of digital stories and artwork by women survivors and police officers at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, including an Artists’ Talk.
Art of Resistance (2019): Building upon the Honouring Our Stories (HOS) Project, we held an arts-based conference around the theme of resisting sexual violence the following year. Funded by the Ontario Arts Council and held January 18-20, 2019, the Conference introduced concepts of healing from and resistance to violence through art, movement and storytelling workshops, and provided analysis and training on sexual assault prevention. With support and guidance from Elder Brenda Mason, artists, survivors and staff involved in the Honouring our Stories Project worked together to design the core programming for the conference, which included:
- Women survivors from the HOS Project co-facilitated a new series of one-photo digital storytelling workshops with conference participants, with digital story artists Community Story Strategies
- Screened the HOS digital stories and held a panel discussion with HOS participants and artists
- Dr. Charlene Senn (Canada Research Chair in Sexual Violence, University of Windsor) gave a keynote address explaining the theory behind effective sexual assault prevention
- Hosted the Ghomeshi Effect, a verbatim dance theatre performance about sexual assault, at Magnus Theatre in Thunder Bay, where they performed for a sold out audience made up of conference participants and the general public.
- Community Supports for Survivors of Sexual Violence in Thunder Bay (NOWC)
- Aftermetoo: dedicated to ending sexual violence in the workplace
- The Facts About Sexual Assault and Harassment (Canadian Women’s Foundation)
- Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG): What You Need to Know (ONWA)
- Ontario Recognizes Sexual Assault Prevention Month
- Reinventing Our Campuses: Creating Real Community Safety to Address Sexual Violence (Learning Network Forum, 2022)
- Video: Consent on Stolen Land (Learning Network Forum, 2022)
- Sex Only with Consent! (2021): infographic about what consent is and when consent cannot be given