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—Nobody blames survivors of sexual assault for being assaulted

A jury has decided against a St Louis woman who sued the Girls Gone Wild video franchise for filming her topless without her consent.

Even though the woman said ‘no’ on camera, never signed a consent form, and her shirt was pulled down against her wishes by someone behind her, the jury still felt the woman had implied consent just by being at the bar and dancing for the camera.

The myth that survivors of sexual crimes are partially to blame for what happens to them still pervades our society. By telling people not to dress certain ways, travel alone at night, or leave their drinks unattended, we imply that survivors have some sort of control over whether another person chooses to willfully and deliberately violate their bodies.

These are not crimes of misunderstanding – in fact the woman in St Louis couldn’t have been more clear with her refusal – they are abuses of power and control. They deny a person the right to choose what to do with his or her own body.

Survivors of sexual crimes take these messages to heart, and they can dramatically affect whether they speak about what has happened, and impair the healing process. Victims often blame themselves, but every one of them will tell you, “I wouldn’t have gone if I knew this was going to happen.”

A tragic case in Winnipeg shows how deeply internalized these messages are in Canada, and how damaging they can be: a teenager and her friends were sexually assaulted by some older teens while hanging out, drinking vodka and listening to music. The teenager begged her friends not to tell anyone what had happened, fearing they would be labeled “little sluts”. This young girl later took her own life.

Even if we have good intentions to help and support a survivor of a sexual crime, we often don’t know what to do or say. This is not a subject that is spoken about often, and we may feel at such a loss that we grasp on to myths like this that make up the limited public dialogue on the subject.

If you are seeking to support a survivor, the best thing to do is to listen to them without questions or judgment. Above all, make it very clear to them that what has happened was not their fault.

Alberta residents can call CCASA’s toll-free line any time for information and support around issues of sexual violence: 1-877-237-5888

For a great ad campaign about this subject, check out NotEver.co.uk

Woman in St Louis loses suit over Girls Gone Wild video

Girl’s suicide may never be solved: Stigma prevents rape victims from coming forward

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