Developing Community Responses to Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence, part 1

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Erin Crickett is the campaign coordinator with the Guelph-Wellington County Neighbours, Friends and Families campaign, which is organized through the Guelph-Wellington Action Committee on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. This is a 24-member agency that includes Women in Crisis, the Humane Society, school boards, mental health workers and more, working together to develop a protocol to respond to sexual assault and domestic violence. As the campaign coordinator, Erin leads workshops with all kinds of groups about warning signs of abuse and effective responses.

 

Galya is a midwifery student at McMaster University in Hamilton, a past volunteer with Women in Crisis, she is training with the Sexual Assault Center of Hamilton Area (SACHA), and is a co-founder and organizer with the SMASH Collective (Students at McMaster Against Sexual Harassment), which consists of mostly midwifery and nursing students. Galya’s work includes creating action and awareness of sexual violence on campus, learning how to support survivors through pregnancy, childbearing, and postpartum, and working to better understand how midwives can provide compassionate and empowering care to survivors.

 

In their conversation, Galya and Erin talk about developing community responses to sexual assault, crisis support, harm reduction strategies that are non-judgmental when dealing with survivors using what might seem like risky or damaging behaviour, and supporting survivors in ways that remind them how powerful they are, and that acknowledge how strong of a person it takes to survive.

 

They also talk of how many of the dynamics of abuse, power, and control that manifest in abusive relationships, how emotional abuse can be harder to get over than physical abuse, the need to support survivors of abuse as well as the need to work with perpetrators, particularly abusive men, shifting focus from always seeing abuse and violence as an individual problem to seeing it also as a societal problem that is embedded in a context that enables abuse to happen and makes it harder for survivors to leave, or to find help through institutionalized means like police, the legal system, the medical system.

By the end of it they talk about the challenge and excitement of ridding ourselves of all the subtle assumptions that creep into us through our messed up, unhealthy, patriarchal culture, and particularly how this affects our sex lives. They remind us that consensual sex is hot sex, and talking about our likes and dislikes, comfort zones, boundaries, birth control, and such, can lead to amazingly close and hot relationships. Not just with ourselves, but with our friends and lovers, our communities, and the earth.

For further reading check out the links above, as well as the Power and Control Wheel and the Advocacy Wheel, and the homepage of Philly's Pissed.

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