Ripples of Awesome: Male Allies Reflect SACHA’s Impact

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by Dev

SACHA is celebrating our 40th anniversary this year. We’re focusing on how SACHA’s work has changed our community.

Do you have a SACHA story that you’d like to share? Did you volunteer or work with us in the early years? Did you get help or support from SACHA? Let us know – sacha@sacha.ca.

The volunteers on SACHA’s 24 Hour Support Line respond to calls twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year. It’s amazing that there is always someone to listen to survivors about how sexual violence—past or recent—is affecting their lives.

But the benefit of the Support Line program does not stop there. Twice a year a group of volunteers complete a sixteen week training program all about how to be a good support person, or, as one volunteer explains it “basically it’s how to be a better person training”.

The impact of this on our community is amazing! The women-identified folks who volunteer on the line often share and model what they’ve learned with their communities of friends, colleagues and family. This means that a wonderful ripple of skills spreads and is growing in Hamilton. Volunteers develop skills like listening to disclosures of abuse, naming sexism and other forms of oppression, and a solid understanding of how prevalent sexual violence is in our communities and the impacts of that violence.

We asked three male-identified folks whose lives are connected to SACHA volunteers in some way (friends, partners, roommates) to reflect on what ripples of awesome they notice SACHA volunteer training spreading.

How does having SACHA volunteer skills in your community help to make it more amazing?

One Hamilton man talked about the skills he notices in the community thanks to SACHA training:

It helps me on a personal level, knowing that there are people that know how to respond to situations that I don’t. And that (SACHA volunteers) are positive influences on those around them.

I think [these skills] just raises the bar for sexual accountability within relationships, having people who can call out rape culture and abusive dynamics within relationships.

Another man described gaining skills from having a relationship with a SACHA volunteer:

I have the joy of being friends with more than one SACHA volunteer – including my partner. I am so grateful to have these incredible women (and, indirectly, SACHA) in my life. I have seen them engage countless times with people in and outside of my community, using the skills SACHA has given them to initiate conversations about sexual assault, confront oppressive behaviour, break down false beliefs about sexual violence, and reframe debates in a way that transforms attitudes and lives and thereby reduces the likelihood of future assaults.

I have seen them use the skills SACHA gave them to support survivors – from family members to friends, to random strangers. Many people, when they find out that my partner has this training, will spontaneously share their incredibly painful stories. Shame is a powerful tool that abusers use to perpetuate a culture of sexual violence. She listens to them in a way that breaks down that stigma.

This person describes skill sharing happening in our community thanks to SACHA-taught skills for supporting survivors:

I have personally and indirectly been transformed by the skills SACHA teaches. When I first met my partner, I had a bad habit of responding to the painful personal disclosures of others by doing the stereotypical male thing and trying to solve their problem for them. I also had a really hard time validating people. She taught me how to listen without trying to fix people. To support people in the way that they want to be supported, rather than the way I think they should be supported. To applaud people. I see these skills spreading from person to person – daily making Hamilton a little bit more wonderful for survivors, and a little bit less comfortable for perpetrators. This, in my opinion, is the legacy of SACHA in our community.

I have seen people literally photocopy or cut and paste SACHA resources and give them to people because that’s how awesome those tools are.

Have you felt the effect of a SACHA volunteer ripple? Let us know in the comments!

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