Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Assault: 

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Support and Information Line 403–237–5888


Alberta's One Line for Sexual Violence 1–866–403–8000
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Mythbusting Monday: Sexual violence is only a women’s issue

South African student leader was convicted of hate speech for saying that a woman who had accused the South African president of rape had had a “nice time”. He was ordered to pay a $7,000 fine and write a detailed apology. The people who brought the suit against the youth leader was Sonke Gender Justice – a group which supports men and boys to act against domestic and sexual violence.

Too often, sexual violence is dismissed as something that only happens to certain types of people – particularly women who make choices some people consider risky. This is why, instead of shaming the people who perpetrate rape, people choose to shame the victims. There are reams of advice for women on how not to get raped, but why are women targeted for messages of violence prevention?

The fact is sexual violence is an issue that affects a broad spectrum of people, both men and women, and has a negative impact on society as a whole. It is one of the underlying causes of poverty, low self-esteem, depression, substance abuse issues, and the effects of sexual violence on individuals can last a lifetime. Chances are you know someone who has been personally affected by sexual abuse or sexual assault – it may be your cousin, neighbour, co-worker or friend.  Unfortunately, with negative victim-blaming attitudes so prevalent in society, they may not feel comfortable speaking openly about it.

We can take a page from Sonke’s playbook and make violence prevention everybody’s business. It’s time to change how we address this issue. We need to stop looking at it as something only women need to worry about, and start looking at it as an issue which affects all of us. We need to stop being neutral bystanders when we see people in danger. There is power in numbers, and we need to all be involved in keeping our communities safe. It’s time to work together, openly and unashamed toward this goal. To protect the innocent, we must stop standing beside the guilty.

The first step is to recognize who is really at fault for sexual violence – the perpetrators – and to stop making excuses for them.

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