Healing Gaia

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Part 2

This gender-based violence is rooted in an inherent imbalance of power.

By Doreen Nicoll
Published May 01, 2015

This series of articles will be addressing the issue of sexual assault. The material might be upsetting to some readers. Please take necessary precautions and have a plan of self-care in place should you find yourself reacting to the material.

This is the second in a series of articles for Sexual Assault Prevention Month.

460,000 Sexual Assaults a Year in Canada (Image Credit: YWCA Canada)
460,000 Sexual Assaults a Year in Canada (Image Credit: YWCA Canada)

Sexual assault is any unwanted act of a sexual nature forced by one or more persons upon another individual. This includes unwanted touching (also known as sexual harassment) and rape.

Drugs or alcohol may be used to intoxicate the victim. This includes alcohol or drugs that the victim has consumed either voluntarily or involuntarily as well as the use of anesthesia during an operation or proceedure.

It's clear that men and boys are victims of sexual abuse, but 86 percent of victims of sexual assault who reported to police in 2004 were female. This article will focus on sexual assault as a women's and girl's issue.

Statistics often bring trends to light and validate the importance of exploring specific issues like the sexual assault of women and girls. Here's well established statistics from the Ontario Women's Directorate:

The Violence Against Women Survey, Statistics Canada, 1993 is often quoted because it was, and continues to be, the most comprehensive survey of its kind. No Statistics Canada survey since has asked women about their life-time experience of violence. Thanks to this survey, it's known that 29 percent of female undergraduate students reported incidences of sexual assault.

On-campus assaults often take place during the first eight weeks of classes. Over 80 percent of the rapists are known to their victims. Half of these incidences occur on dates.

When the abuser is not a spouse, women under the age of 35 are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted than women over 35 years of age.

It's extremely clear that girls and young women face the greatest risk of being sexual assaulted.

One in three Canadian women will be sexual assaulted in their lifetime. The fact that over 33 percent of women will experience assault is extremely disturbing, but the numbers increase dramatically if we focus on marginalized women: 57 percent of aboriginal women and 83 percent of disabled women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime.

Men are the perpetrators 99 percent of the time when women are sexual assaulted. In 80 percent of these cases the assailant was a fellow employee, acquaintance, religious leader, health care provider, friend or family member. When the perpetrator is someone you thought you could trust it's catastrophic!

Sexual assaults occur in private homes 80 percent of the time. An astonishing 36 percent of the assaults take place in the woman's own home. Sexual assault happening in a setting that should be safe is devastating!

For every 100 incidents of sexual assault committed by someone other than a spouse, only 6 are reported to the police. In the case of 'date rape' only 1 percent or 2 percent of assaults are reported. This is significant given the fact that 50 percent of sexual assaults occur during 'dates.'

At the end of the day, only 0.3 percent of perpetrators are convicted.

Sexual assault within marriage became a criminal offence in 1983. Only 53 percent of women sexually assaulted by a spouse report to police.

According to the now-defunct Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women (1985), every 17 minutes, a woman is raped.

This gender-based violence is rooted in an inherent imbalance of power. It will continue as long as offenders regard sexually assaulting girls and women as a right rather than a crime. The situation is compounded when the abusers and rapists are not held accountable for their actions. Educating boys and young men is our only hope.

May 1 is the start of Sexual Assault Prevention month in Canada. It's important to remember that #NoOneAsksForIt!

Doreen Nicoll is a feminist and a member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2015 at 09:25:44

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 01, 2015 at 09:35:39 in reply to Comment 111308

Well, if we're going to go in that direction, we could just cover the women up and make sure that women never travel without the escort of a man.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2015 at 10:44:15 in reply to Comment 111309

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2015 at 10:26:24 in reply to Comment 111309

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2015 at 10:40:38 in reply to Comment 111313

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 01, 2015 at 09:49:32 in reply to Comment 111309

Please don't feed the troll.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2015 at 10:26:54 in reply to Comment 111310

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 01, 2015 at 10:39:47 in reply to Comment 111314

Yup, this confirms you're the kind of person that is the reason I don't go near churches anymore. And believe me, in my naive youth few people were are hardcore christian as me. People as smug and self-righteous as you are atheist factories. "Lord Lord, did we not do works in your name?" "Get away from me, I never knew you". Please surround yourself with people that like this kind of attitude, and don't bother us anymore. Sorry Ryan, I won't say another word. The good news is, with one less website to visit today, I'll get more work done :)

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted May 01, 2015 at 10:18:54 in reply to Comment 111310

This is slightly off topic and I don't really want to distract from the article, but maybe this guy isn't a troll. Maybe he really believes what he says and that his concerns are not feigned. I posted this elsewhere here this week. https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/culture...

I am not educated enough about sexual assault to make any comments on its cause, but letting this guy go wild, like he has on the other topic here (if its the same guy) without rebuttal may be worse than simply pointing out how his position seems to be myopic. Maybe if he realized that Russian soldiers in Berlin at the end of the second world war were acting out of power and revenge (maybe driven by their lust) resulted in 2 million rapes, that his views represent only a fraction of the causal reasons behind sexual assault. He could read this for example. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-3252967...

Sorry for feeding him if he doesn't take the time to read it and continues to rant away.

(my smart ass response to him would have been, if it wasn't for oxygen, no-one would be out there sinning.)

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2015-05-01 10:25:38

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 01, 2015 at 11:21:03 in reply to Comment 111312

Regardless of whether he's following the classical definition of a troll, he's being extremely disruptive to the site and dominating the conversation.

RTH is much less aggressive about hiding "unpopular" content than other sites - merely graying or hiding-to-expand individual comments. Other, larger sites with threaded content and upvotes/downvotes would collapse/hide all the unpopular comments altogether rather than individually, making downmodded content harder to find and less-obvious that they exist.

Given how forgiving the RTH comment-engine is to this kind of inappropriate behavior, Ryan has to fall-back to a blanket ban as the only reasonable approach rather than just let one obsessive/aggressive person trainwreck the entire conversation.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 01, 2015 at 10:48:13 in reply to Comment 111312

It's possible that "truthit" really believes what he is writing - after all, there are United States Senators who have said stupider things about sexual assault - but that does not mean he's not a troll. He spammed the previous article with 42 comments between April 28 and April 30. That's 57% of all the comments on the page. 36 of his comments were replies, and 19 of the other comments, or another 26% of the total, were replies to him.

To mix metaphors for a moment: if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and craps like a duck, the matter of whether or not it is an actual duck doesn't really matter when it's your job to clean up the crap.

As to whether debating the troll is better than ignoring him, the article you linked states:

data suggest that it’s effective: A recent Pew Research Center survey found that of people who did nothing in response to an incident of online harassment, 83 percent felt the ignoring tactic worked.

Again, note that 84% of all the comments on the previous article were either replies to truthit or truthit's replies to them. Only four of his comments were not replies to someone who made the mistake of feeding the troll.

Edit - and since I started writing this comment, the troll has posted another six comments. Okay, I'm done with this.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-05-01 12:00:52

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2015 at 10:36:59 in reply to Comment 111312

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2015 at 10:31:14 in reply to Comment 111312

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2015 at 11:06:21

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2015 at 11:15:49

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2015 at 11:52:31

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