Sexual assault use to be crime that we knew was bad but never talked about or never really entered into our conscious thinking unless promoted by a TV show or horrible news story. We never knew that, according to a national study in 2004, sexual assaults rates were calculated at about 2 incidents every 100 people aged 15 years and older. This is only a rough estimate because data collection has been difficult since only 1 in 10 cases are reported to law enforcement (Brennan and Taylor-Butts, 2008).
That isn’t the scariest statistic. The data shows the rate of sexual assaults has remained relative consistent for a decade, but the number of reports to law officials have steadily declined during the same time period (Brennan and Taylor-Butts, 2008). Another study showed that over half of the victims that did not go to police believed the assault was not important enough to report (PEIRSAC, 2008)! Sexual assaults have become progressively more culturally accepted. Unfortunately, evidence for this is rampant. At the beginning of 2011, a representative of the Toronto Police gave insight into their view of sexual assault by stating, “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,” (for more info see SLUTWALK TORONTO – WHY).
This startling reality in a country with significant resources, a stable political situation and ranked highly for its legal system with respect to universal human rights. The Canadian Federal Government overhauled its federal sexual assault laws to replace the word rape with sexual assault, which was defined as sexual contact where at least one person does not consent (CRCVC, 2006). For a detailed explanation of Canadian law and the meaning of consent, see The Desvastation of Sexual Assault (CRCVC, 2006). Nevertheless, this crime is happening far more than anyone would like to admit. Now, imagine the situation in countries with weak or gender-biased legal systems. Imagine the prevalence in countries where sexual assault is used as a weapon of war or the definition is understood in a much more limited way. Imagine the reality in countries where sexual assault is the norm.
The solution to this problem involves large collaboration across many sectors of society. It is our hope to use theatre to do our small part. We hope to give a voice to its victims and a safe space to explore, through the depths of its horror, the ramifications of sexual assault as well as highlight the need for acknowledgement and discussion if we ever hope to find a solution.
If you, or any one you know has been victimized, please know it is not your fault and you are not alone. No matter the situation that leading up to the crime, your reaction during or after – it is not your fault. There are resources:
If you are under 20 anywhere in Canada, please see http://kidshelpphone.ca/forums/ViewForum.aspx?FORUMID=32 for information and various sources of help 24/7.
It is not your fault. No matter what the situation, no means no and they should have listened.
You are not alone. There is help available. You have options.
Online survivor communities: forums, support and chat rooms. Something for everyone.
What lies behind us and what lies before us
are tiny matters compared to what lies within us