Sexual Assault Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

WARNING: This article speaks about sexual assault and rape.

To be honest, when starting to write this article I wasn’t sure how to. Sexual assault is a topic that scares me because it can happen to anyone and without a cause. Statistically, women are more likely to be the victims, but of course, men can also be attacked. Being a woman, I always heard the stories of being aware of walking home alone at night, or getting separated from friends at a club, always having my phone charged and of course, the typical “don’t drink too much, and be careful what you wear.” I always got so upset when I heard all of these warnings because I didn’t understand how someone could ever blame me if this happened. Shouldn’t someone know not to touch me without my consent?

I’ll start with the definition of sexual assault. Sexual assault can happen in different forms, such as any unwanted or coerced sexual touching, including kissing or groping. This is actually different than rape because of what happens to the victim. Rape, is defined as an "unlawful sexual intercourse or any other penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim."

Quickly, I’ll go through some of the facts of sexual assault so everyone is on the same page:

  • Anyone can be sexually assaulted. This means that no matter your race, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender, or physical ability, it can happen to you.
  • Being sober doesn’t mean you won’t get attacked.
  • Being intoxicated doesn’t mean there is automatic consent. In fact, if you are drunk or drugged, consent cannot be given because you do not have the proper mindful capacity to do so.
  • It doesn’t matter what you are wearing, you can be attacked whether you are naked or have three layers of clothes on.
  • Men can also be sexual assault victims.
  • Sexual assault is more likely to be committed by someone you know.
  • It can happen anywhere and at any time.
  • Your spouse/partner can sexually assault you.

The topic of sexual assault is common in our society today. Either we know someone who is a victim, or we see cases on the news, or new global campaigns are created because of this.

April as sexual assault awareness month was first acknowledged in the United States in the 1970s, and later became a campaign in Canada as well. Although we adopted the tradition from the United States, Canada recognizes it during the month of May. But one of the main reasons I decided to write about this during April despite being in Canada is because of the dangers many individuals are currently facing with the social distancing mandate of COVID-19. Anyone who is in an abusive and/or sexually abusive relationship at home cannot escape by going to work or school anymore. Most, in fact, are subjected to this hatred and violence. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many people now, but there are still help lines available, and of course, the police are still there to help.

So, what can be done? Everyone has different responses to this subject because we have all been through different things. Some people might want to report it immediately, others won’t ever tell a law official, or maybe they want to leave the relationship but don’t know how. If you have a friend who is a survivor, it might be better not to push them to make a decision right away. Sometimes the panic after the attack can be too much for anyone to handle and forcing them to relive the trauma is not always the answer. Be there for them, research some resources they can use, and let them know that you are there to listen at any time.

Here is a list of resources you can use if you are in Ontario:

Here is a list of resources you can use if you are a Laurier Brantford student:

  • Call: 519-751-3471 (Sexual Assault Center of Brant, opened 24 hours)
  • Contact sexual violence counsellor, Rasha Taha at 519-571-1164, ex. 209. Or you can email them at [email protected]

Please know that if you have been a victim of a sexual assault, you are never responsible. It was not your fault, and you are still worthy and beautiful!

 

SOURCES:

https://theconversation.com/whats-the-difference-between-sexual-abuse-sexual-assault-sexual-harassment-and-rape-88218

https://www.ontario.ca/page/lets-stop-sexual-harassment-and-violence

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/world/coronavirus-domestic-violence.html

https://students.wlu.ca/wellness-and-recreation/gendered-violence-prevention-and-support/get-support/healing.html

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/rape