Survivors need support now: A statement from one rape crisis centre

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Photo: flickr/Karen Elliot

Editor’s note: As the number of women coming forward with allegations against Jian Ghomeshi rises and media coverage continues, it is important to remember that media coverage of the allegations is both important and may cause distress to survivors of sexual assault.

Many articles have been written wondering why people who are assaulted would not come forward to the police in the hope of being helped or stopping a perpetrator. In response, people have been tweeting their experience using the hashtag #beenrapedneverreported.

Meanwhile, crisis centres across the country continue their work with survivors. They continue to confront issues about why victims choose not to report their experiences, and supporting women through the healing process whether they choose to report or not. invited the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre Multi Cultural Women Against Rape to write a statement in relation to the media coverage of sexual assault. Here is that statement:

We appreciate and support the majority of survivor positive mainstream media attention that these survivors are receiving right now. We work with survivors every day and even though their experiences aren't as public they are just as traumatic to our community. We hope that the pressure the public is putting on our legal system does not fade with the headlines. 

Canada has a long history of sexual violence and we want the outrage Canadians feel right now to be extended to all survivors. Sexual violence has always existed. That fact alone demands that all of us challenge the systems that perpetuate it, whatever is being said in the media.

The Toronto Rape Crisis Centre Multi Cultural Women Against Rape (TRCC/MWAR) stands in solidarity with all survivors of sexual violence including those who are indigenous, black, trans and survivors of colour as well as the nine women who have come forward with allegations against the former CBC host. When anyone discloses sexual violence and abuse we must respond with compassion, belief and validation.

We also want to acknowledge the survivors who participated in #beenrapedneverreported last night.

Why don't survivors report? There are numerous reasons.

The legal system is never easy to navigate, but is especially difficult and traumatic as a survivor of violence. It is important to note that only 36 per cent of reported sexual assaults have charges laid, and only nine per cent of reported sexual assaults actually lead to conviction. Our justice system does not end sexual violence, educating the public on equality, sex and consent does.

We will support survivors in whatever way they choose to heal. Every survivor is different and knows what is best for them. It’s important that everyone supports and understands the power of this choice, rather than demand legal proceedings to prove whether the assault happened or not.

It is vital for survivors to practice selfcare. Take time to unplug, talk, get grounded, stay in the now, deep breaths, eat and remind yourself what happened to you is not your fault.

For over 40 years the TRCC/MWAR has been believing survivors.

Our 24-hour crisis line is prepared to deal with a possible influx of calls from survivors who are retraumatized by the amount of media coverage and the surrounding discussions.

Crisis lines exist across Canada. Links those services can be found here.


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