Acknowledging that sexual assault happens is a first step toward addressing this issue.
By Doreen Nicoll
Published April 28, 2015
Trigger Alert: this article addresses the issue of sexual assault, and some readers may be triggered by the terms or material contained in it. Please take the necessary precautions to avoid being triggered, or have a plan of self-care in place should you find yourself reacting to the material.
No One Asks For It
Since 1988, May has been Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Canada. For 31 days, individuals, agencies and community organizations make extra efforts to inform the public about what constitutes sexual assault, who is most likely to be assaulted by whom, and what changes are needed to eradicate this abuse.
I prefer to call it Sexual Assault Prevention Month because it's not enough to be aware of the issue. We need to stop it before it happens.
Sexual assault is any unwanted act of a sexual nature forced by one or more persons upon an individual. It includes unwanted touching and rape.
Touching could be direct or through clothing. The victim may be touched by the perpetrator or the victim may be forced to touch the abuser. This is also known as sexual harassment. Consent is not given, or certainly not given freely, by the victim.
Rape is unlawful sexual intercourse or sexual penetration of a person, with or without the use of force, and without consent. This includes situations where the victim is too intoxicated to give consent.
Drugs or alcohol may be used to intoxicate the victim. The victim may have consumed the alcohol or drugs voluntarily or involuntarily. Date rape or club drugs are perhaps the best known means of rendering a victim unable to give consent.
But even anesthesia has been used by abusers like Dr. George Doodnaught, who was convicted of sexually assaulting 21 female patients over a ten-year period while he was an anesthesiologist at North York General Hospital.
It's well known that 1 in 3 Canadian women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime. The majority of victims will be under 25 years of age.
Most women know their attacker. Most do not report the crime to police.
According to Canada's National Clearinghouse on Family Violence (2008), one in six Canadian men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
Most men know their attacker. Most do not report the crime to police.
This is not a crime of passion, love or affection. This crime relies on an imbalance of power that enables the abuser to use coercion and force to control the women and girls, men and boys they choose to abuse.
Acknowledging that sexual assault happens is a first step toward addressing this issue. What we really need to do is look at how society has normalized the imbalance of power and control that enables sexual assault to continue to happen.
Causes of Sexual Assault
We need to place responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the abusers and reinforce that victims and survivors of sexual assault are not responsible for the abuse that was forced on them.
Friday, May 1, stand in solidarity with the victims and survivors of sexual assault - wear purple in recognition of all Canadians who have experienced sexual assault because #NoOneAsksForIt!
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