Okay, pardon me while I climb onto of a soap box.
Okay, so usually, I speak out about a lot of things. Things that bother me. Things I’m working on. Being an Ally. Things I hear people say—all that good stuff. Today I want to draw to your attention the topic of Sexual Harrassment/Sexual Assault. Yes, I know most people don’t talk about it and that is a part of the problem. It’s a topic we whisper about in the dark yet when we turn the light on there’s this massive purple elephant in the middle of the room.
Lately, it seem society keeps telling us that sexual harassment or assault isn’t a problem, that it’s one of those lesser crimes that merits a slap on the wrist. Why do I say that? Well, Jian Ghomeshi, The Stanford Case, a Dutch woman in the Middle East who was sentenced to prison for having sex outside of the marriage after she reported being raped–yes, you aren’t seeing things, trust me it was in the news. I’ve been bombarded with so many of these headlines, I started thinking the laws were protecting the bad guys more than the victims! Sure, the Dutch woman is all the way in the middle east but it doesn’t make it any less horrifying.
Often times than not, sexual assault victims suffer alone and in silence. Be it their culture doesn’t appreciate the magnitude of being forced to endure something so intimate, or there’s a shame that comes with knowing you were violated or even the stigma of being damaged because this horrible thing took place. Whatever the reason for the individual, this crime often times goes unreported and perpetrator unpunished. And if the bad guy does face a trail it ends like the Jian Ghomeshi one or the case in the US where a judge sentenced a rapist to 6 months in prison for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. (That is a whole other post I’m trying to avoid writing because I am still so angry about that—my words will never come out coherently or appropriately). (And yes, we can call him a rapist, not an alleged rapist, because he was convicted of the crime).
But let’s switch back to Ontario for a minute.
After the whole Jian Ghomeshi trial and the colossal disaster that was, the whispers becan about victims being afraid of speaking out, afraid of asking for help because they don’t know the rules and time limits and what to do after they were raped. They either can’t afford legal help or doesn’t think they can trust anyone. Ontario has rolled out a program that provides free legal help for Sexual Assault victims. You can read more about the program here. Though it’s being dubbed a pilot program right now, I really hope the only reason it should be phased out is if the crime goes away.
I am very proud of this latest step. Women (and men) shouldn’t have to worry about being violated and if that does happen, they should know there are people within the legal world who will stand up and help them fight back. I am hoping, this latest initiative will shed more light on the issue, and give victims the power to take their lives back.
But I cannot end this post without making a few more points:
If you are a victim of this horrendous crime, remember the following:
- It is NOT your fault. No, it’s not because your skirt was too short, or your mid-drift was showing. The number one cause of rape in society is the rapist.
- Even if your family doesn’t understand (I sincerely hope they do and have your back because I’m not going to lie, it helps having blood in your corner) then reach out to someone who will. A best friend, your best friend’s parents, anyone.
- If you are male and this happened to you, it does NOT make you weak. It does NOT make you gay. It does NOT make you less of a man.
- Just because you were drunk does NOT mean you “had it coming” or was “Asking for it.” Drunk or unconscious does not equal consent and we REALLY need to start teaching our kids this.
- You don’t have to remain silent and suffer alone. There are people out there who will work with you, who will help you. If you can’t find one on your own, try googling, or visiting your nearest YWCA and asking if they could put you in touch with someone. Call the premier’s office and ask them for help. Go to your local police station and request to speak with a female cop (if you’re a female and feel comfortable with a female officer) or a male cop (if you’re male and feel comfortable with a male cop) – which ever sex officer you feel comfortable with. If they don’t know the answer, they should be able to find it. If that doesn’t help, you can leave me a message here and I will try my best to point you in the right direction.
- There’s NO shame in asking for help. Sometimes no matter how tough we are, there are things that we cannot handle on our own and there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.
If you know someone who went through this. Please go here for some advice on how you can help. If you wish you learn more about Sexual Assault and why we REALLY need more people to speak up about it and why we need more resources to combat this epidemic, please read Stephany Mandin’s article titled Fighting Chance: The Importance Of Victim Advocacy In Sexual Assault Cases. She makes some very valid points. You can find her article here.
To get some legal help if you’re a victim or if you know someone who is a victim, please click here
I hope this post benefits someone. And if you can, please pass along this post and Stephany’s article. We’re trying to start something positive here. You see, when a crime happens, the offender isn’t the only one with rights–the victim has rights too and the more knowledge the victims have, the less these perps are likely to get away with it. It was a Klingon (I know this line has a real origin but the first time I heard the phrase was on Star Trek so there) that said “revenge is a dish best served cold.” In this case, “revenge is a dish best served with a lawyer.”
“La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froide” Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s