Category: SADI

Wear Denim on April 29!

By: Candice Perry

Since 1999, April 29 has been designated as Wear Denim Day, a day when people around the world wear denim in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault. The movement caps off Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and is the second sartorial statement in protest of sexualized violence, the first being Wear Teal Day on April 7 each year.

Wear Denim Day began when female Italian parliamentarians went on a “denim strike” in response to an Italian Supreme Court decision to overturn a rape conviction, in part based on the reasoning that the victim must have consented because the tight jeans she wore at the time of the attack could not have been removed “if she was fighting with all her force”.

Another factor in the decision was that the victim, an eighteen year old student at a driving school, attended a driving theory class after the attack. The student reported the rape in 1992, after the driving instructor sexually assaulted her during a driving lesson. The Supreme Court decision demonstrated how persistent myths about sexual assault are within a culture because it came about three years after Italy had modernized its sexual assault laws. [1] Similar scenarios have been played out over the ensuing decades around the world, including in Canada.

The myth that a “true victim” will ”fight with all her force” or “raise a hue and cry” [2] is common. In fact, neuroscientists have shown that commonly misunderstood reactions to sexual assault such as continuing a relationship with the perpetrator or freezing can be an automatic reaction. The commonly known “fight or flight response” is actually preceded by a “freeze response”, allowing the human being to devote all the senses to assess the danger of the perceived threat. Also, in crisis, the human brain relies on habits to stay safe, so it should be no surprise that women, who in our culture are socialized to appease others and help them save face, might react to sexual aggression by appeasing the attacker or maintain a friendly relationship with him afterwards.[3]

While the Italian “jeans defence” was met with vocal public backlash at the time, pervasive sexual assault myths continue to have harmful effects on survivors, the administration of justice, and society. When the people to whom survivors turn for support believe these myths, survivors feel re–victimized and alone. This complicates their recovery and may cause them to be reluctant to report sexual violence to the authorities. When investigators and judges believe these myths, perpetrators are never sanctioned and are allowed to victimize even more people. And when these myths are believed, pervasive stereotypes about women are allowed to result in bias and discrimination, thus enabling sexism to continue.

April 29 is Wear Denim day and April is Sexual Assault awareness Month, but we are all challenged to stand in solidarity with survivors by recognizing and refuting myths about sexual assault whenever and wherever they come up.

[1] Stanley, Allesandra. New  York Times, February 16, 1999

[2] Craig, Elaine. The Ethical Obligtions of Defense Counsel n Sexual Assault Cases, Osgoode Hall law Journal, Volume 51, Issue 2 (Winter 2014).

[3] Haskell, Lori, and Melanie Randall, The Impact of Trauma on Adult Sexual Assault Victims, 2019

Survivor’s Hope COVID-19 Statement

Due to the recent updates of COVID-19, Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre will be implementing the following strategies immediately to ensure that the health and safety of the community, volunteers, staff and Board of Directors of Survivor’s Hope remains a priority.

The organization will remain operational and work hours will continue as status quo with an emphasis on slowing down the spread of the virus by completing the following strategies:

– The office in Pinawa will be closed until April 10, at which time we will reassess. Staff will check for phone messages and will be checking emails regularly while working from home.

– All SADI workshops and Girls’ Group Mentorship programming is suspended until April 10, at which time we will reassess.

– The SARAH Program will be available to provide advocacy over the phone but in-person advocacy at hospitals and RCMP detachments is suspended at this time. Immediate SARAH support by phone can be accessed by those who have the SARAH pager number using the same protocols as always.

–  The SARAH workers on the schedule for the next two weekends will not be called to attend call-outs anywhere in community. The person on pager duty will provide the advocacy and support by-phone using the SARAH phone. We will reassess this plan April 10.

For staff, please inform your supervisor via phone call, text and/or email if applicable should you be experiencing symptoms and will not be able to work from home. It is notable that the Government of Canada has waived the one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim. Link for more information is below.

With your support, we will inform the community of our indefinite program suspension and encourage everyone to follow the advice of Public Health officials and stay home as much as possible. Our phone and Facebook communication will remain operational to assist with providing support.

As we become more informed on the virus in the coming days and weeks, the above mentioned strategies will be updated to best respond to the health and safety of the Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre team and the larger community. This is a reminder on how to best practice the values of Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre by treating one another with respect, helping with understanding and empathy, seeking to understand situations and being open minded.

For more information on COVID-19 please review the following links:

Health Links at 204-788-8200

Thank you for your understanding and compliance with these strategies, should you have any questions or concerns please feel free to ask.

Preventing More Than Murder-Suicide: Early Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

Unfortunately, 2014 ended with some brutal cases of domestic violence.  In Edmonton, a woman and seven of her family members and friends were killed by her ex-husband before he shot himself. In Fort Worth, Texas, a woman and her two daughters were killed by her ex-boyfriend who then killed himself. In BC, spousal homicide was at a five-year high in 2014.

Edmonton Police Chief, Rod Knecht, told reporters that the case in his city was an incident of “domestic violence gone awry.” Let’s be clear – there are zero cases of domestic violence that “go well”, so there cannot be cases that go “awry”. Every single incident of domestic violence is a relationship gone awry, a partner gone awry.

Domestic violence happens in homes across Canada every single day. At any given time, there are nearly 10,000 women and children in emergency shelters across the country. It happens an awful lot, but this is no excuse for us to start thinking “mild domestic violence” is acceptable.

One news report listed some warning signs of a potential murder-suicide – “…obsessive behaviour, depression in the killer, and an escalation of violence prior to the murder.” All of these “warning signs” are more than just red flags – they clearly indicate a situation that needs to be addressed. This is like saying a house engulfed in flames is at risk of burning down!

Long before we check for the warning signs of mass murder and suicide, there are so many other concerns that ought to be addressed. Depression and violent behaviour should never go unchecked. Those are not signs of a problem; those are large problems in and of themselves!

Abusive relationships are about an imbalance of power and one partner controlling the other. The partner that uses abusive behaviour is solely responsible for their behaviour and the victimized partner does not deserve to be treated poorly.

In SADI workshops with grade 12 students, we discuss these warning signs that someone may use abusive behaviour:

  • constantly checking up on partner
  • telling the partner what to wear, what to do, who to spend time with
  • excessively jealous, accuses the other of cheating or flirting
  • showing up unannounced
  • humiliating the person
  • teasing
  • lack of communication
  • inability to listen
  • no trust
  • possessiveness
  • no balance or equality
  • lack of respect
  • put downs
  • big mood swings
  • makes you feel nervous (like you are walking on eggshells)
  • criticizes you
  • threatens to hurt you

All of these warning signs indicate that one partner is not concerned about building a healthy or respectful relationship. If you see your partner, someone else’s partner, or even if you see yourself engaging in some of these behaviours, it is a good idea to re-evaluate the relationship. Everybody deserves to be in a healthy and respectful relationship – EVERYBODY! We are setting the bar way too low if we only try to prevent murder-suicide. We can prevent all forms of domestic violence.

There is a toll-free number in Manitoba that you can call 24/7 to talk to a trained counsellor about any relationship that you suspect is abusive 1-888-977-0007. Emergency shelters are always available to anyone who feels unsafe in their relationship, long before you are worried about an impending murder-suicide.

Book Review: I Am Malala

I Am MalalaI Am Malala: The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban

By: Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

I Am Malala is the memoir of one of the world’s most famous teenagers even though she is not in films and does not have a new album coming out. Malala Yousafzai is one of few young people internationally renowned for her social activism.

I Am Malala was written after Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban on her way home from school. She was targeted because of her participation with her father in advocating for better access to education for girls in Pakistan. She currently lives with her family in Birmingham, UK which is where she was treated for her injuries.

The book provides a glimpse at the history of Pakistan which helps the reader to better understand the political situation in which Malala has lived. It can be easy to forget that there are individual people behind the headlines about the Taliban and drone attacks, but this book reminds the reader of the humans that are involved in the politics of the Middle East.

Pakistan was the world’s first Islamic nation, established in 1947. After years of political unrest and bouncing back and forth between democracy and dictatorship, Pakistan has become known for the presence of Taliban, particularly in the northern regions.

Malala grew up in Swat in northern Pakistan, a region she describes as a natural paradise. When Malala began attending school, she could walk to school freely and proudly. But over ten short years, she has had to change what she wears to school, hide her books, enter the school only through a private entrance, and eventually stop attending altogether.

To hear the story of Pakistan’s experience of the Taliban from this teenaged girl is at times infuriating. The stories of competing with her classmates and watching TV with her brothers show us that Malala is like millions of other children around the world. Why would such a girl seem to be a threat to an international terrorist group? However, Malala’s international blogging at age 11 and meeting with politicians to expand girls’ education also show us how exceptional she is. It also shows us the power of education which is precisely why the Taliban tried to kill Malala.

In Canada, it is easy to take public education for granted. It is not dangerous to promote education or attend school here. In fact, we’re more likely to complain about the systems we have! I Am Malala is a reminder to us all of the power of education and the important role it plays, not only in our country but in every country for every child. Because of the power of education, it is important that we support education for all whenever we get the chance.

I Am Malala appeals to many different readers. There is something here for history buffs, politicos, educators, social activists, teenagers, multi-culturalists, and anyone who enjoys a good memoir. The appeal of the book is broad which is very important because the message is one that all people need to hear and keep in mind. When Malala addressed the UN on her 16th birthday, July 12, 2013, she said “We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” While addressing the need for peace and education, I Am Malala emphasizes that gender equality and the equal empowerment of all women and men, boys and girls is essential for a better world. The solution for many social and political problems begins with education for all. “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”

I Am Malala is available through the Pinawa Public Library.