A Week After the Ghomeshi Verdict: #WeBelieveSurvivors


Survivors of sexual violence: We believe you!

Hamilton believes survivors.


SACHA volunteers and their cats believe survivors.

SACHA Staff believe survivors.

sacha staff

Yellowknife believes survivors.

Grandmothers and their grandchildren believe survivors.

grandmothers Continue reading


No One Asks For It – May 6th


No_One_Asks_Logo_Version1_DateOn Friday May 6th 2016, join the thousands across Canada wearing purple in support of survivors of sexual violence; in its sixth year, the campaign is called No One Asks For It!

In many provinces in our nation, May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual abuse and sexualized violence in our communities is far more common than most people think. According to a 2006 Statistics Canada report, one in three women will experience some form of sexual assault in their lifetime. In 2008, they also reported that over half of police reported sexual assault victims were under the age of 18.

One of the biggest hurdles people face after a sexual assault is the notion that somehow they “asked for it” by what they were wearing, where they were, what they were doing or drinking. This is victim-blaming.

On May 6th, let’s make an impact across Canada. Wear purple and show your support of survivors.

Make sure to RSVP to this year’s Facebook Event Page and invite your friends to participate!
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Interview: Taz & Zahra from #GoodMuslimBadMuslim


Challenging Islamophobia on Campus - Wen-Do PosterWe’re getting excited for our Self Defense Workshop for Muslim Women this weekend so we interviewed sheroes Taz and Zahra who make the fabulous #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast.

Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed is an activist, storyteller, and politico based in Los Angeles and Zahra Noorbakhsh is a writer, actor and comedian based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

About their #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast:

As Muslim American women, we are walking this fine line between what it means to be good and bad. So really, what does it mean to be a good Muslim, when we as American women are getting mixed messages from all different angles? We’ve decided to say – fuck it. We’ll define what it means to be a good American Muslim ourselves and through our #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast. And poke fun at both sides of this margin. We’ll create our own narrative how we see fit, and with lots of satire and laughs.

Why is it important/empowering/essential for Muslim women to have space to talk about Islamophobia and safety strategies?

Taz: We are living in a time where fear mongering is being used as a political tactic and Muslims are the latest victims. Because of this, anyone perceived as Muslim – from wearing a hijab to having brown skin, is a potential victim of fear mongering when out in public. To have space to feel empowered is essential for Muslim women so that when they are in public and when they have to deal with patriarchy, white supremacy, or islamophobia – that they will also have bravery. That’s what we can do in the conversations, the power to be brave. And strategies how to show it.

Zahra:  Just knowing that this space exists to discuss real safety strategies takes the conversation out of the realm of paranoia into something real, a real threat, a real danger.  As women, we feel attacked all the time and it’s scary for me to acknowledge that these threats are real.  And, as with all self defense strategies for women, it’s not enough to know how to mace an attacker, for example.  We have to know the steps that come next.  That learning happens in these professionally structured environments.  Continue reading

Self Care Hour


We came up with sixty self care ideas. Enough to do one a minute for an entire hour!

Taking care of ourselves is essential and looks different for everyone. What worked yesterday might not work today. Try out new ideas and old faves and see what works for you.

1. Call SACHA’s 24 Hour Support Line – 905.525.4162
Multi Language Service 5


3. Have a temper tantrum. Kick and punch a pillow.

4. Watch a movie that makes you laugh.

5. Take a bath.

6. Read a book that helps you escape.

7. Make a list of beautiful things.

8. Write a letter to the child that you were. Tell that child the things an adult should have said.

9. Open your curtains, let in sunlight.

10. Make a fort and snuggle in it.

11. Take a walk.

12. Jump in a puddle or play in mud.

13. Scream into a pillow.

14. Doodle.

15. Go cloud watching.

16. Tell your story.

17. Cuddle your pet. Or someone else’s.

18. Cry. #CryPositiveSpace

19. Unplug for an hour. Turn off your phone.

20. Stretch.

21. Write down your thoughts.
French Mastiff puppy chewing a pencil in front of blackboard

22. Boogie to your favourite song.

23. Write a list of all your successes and strengths.

24. Allow yourself to feel what your feeling.

25. Be silly and playful.

26. Visit a pet store.

27. Make a list of why you are awesome.

28. Edit your newsfeed, unfollow the negativity.

28. Do something kind for yourself. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Especially if it’s uncomfortable.

29. Go to a park and people watch. Or dog watch. Or bird watch.

30. Wear your favourite outfit.

31 Visualize yourself winning.

32. Put post-it notes up around your house to remind yourself of your strengths.

33. Make a #SelfCare box.

34. Use positive affirmations.

35. Ask for help.

36. Express yourself through art.

37. Give yourself alone time.

38. Ask someone you trust what they like about you. Really listen.

39. Fly a paper airplane.

40. Read a comic book or awesome graphic novel.

41. Workout at the gym.

42. Light a candle.

43. Bake chocolate chip cookies.

44. Play with play-doh.

45. Squeeze a stressball.

46. Slow down.

47. Watch cute animal videos!

48. Meditate.

49. Try on all the funnest glasses at an optical shop.

50. Wear your pjs all day.
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51. Put on your fanciest outfit.

52. Make a cup of hot beverage in your favourite mug.

53. Put on a playlist of your favourite songs.
cat party

54. Sing along.

55. Plan a hang out with a friend.
cat boxes

56. Let yourself be grumpy.

57. Eat your favourite snack.

58. Make a calming glitter jar.


59. Saying ‘no’.

60. Remember you are enough.
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Ghomeshi Trial: SACHA Responds


In 2014, when allegations of violence against women were first brought against Jian Ghomeshi, many responded with disbelief: he “sounded plausible and open,”[1] Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente admitted in her 2014 column on Ghomeshi; and as one court observer described her interest in the case in February, “All of a sudden, he was off the air and I couldn’t believe it”[2].

But as disclosures about Ghomeshi from women piled up[3], a different reflection began. It sparked important conversations in the public about the prevalence of unreported sexual assault in Canada. It also questioned the inadequacy of the criminal justice system in cases of sexual violence, and the many reasons why survivor-victims do not report —or in many cases, tell anyone at all. Survivors of sexual violence spoke out about the enormous barriers that survivor-victims face.  Advocates, including those of us at SACHA talked about how systems meant to support victims too-often disbelieved or blamed them, while offenders –and oftentimes, the violent incident itself – went unchallenged. At that time, SACHA predicted that a guilty verdict in the Ghomeshi charges would be extremely unlikely given the limits of the system, the historical nature of the cases, general misconceptions and expectations on how victims “ought to” respond to sexual violence, and the relationships that the complainants had with the accused.

Today, SACHA is not in any way surprised by the verdict of acquittal in this case.

Further, we do not see this verdict as an indication of “truth-finding” in what happened between the complainants and accused, and we urge others to pause on this reflection.

On the contrary we see, once again, the criminal justice system’s tendency to:

  • Direct all questioning to the complainant, including questioning her actions before and after the violent incident. Having a social, physical, romantic, financial or other relationship with a person does not negate or reduce the possibility of violence within that relationship. If anything, a relationship is more likely to silence victims into compliance or self-doubt.
  • Invisibilize the accused’s side of the story entirely, giving the impression that he maintained a consistent narrative throughout − when in fact our system is structured so that he is never even asked to present one at all.
  • See that “cases are more likely to be prosecuted if the victim is White and less often when the victim belongs to a racial minority group”; and also more likely to be prosecuted when the accused is a person of colour[4].
  • Make invisible the victims’ acts of resistance in the midst of what they experienced. Every day, survivors of violence continue to interact with those that have harmed them. Realistic reasons include: not wanting to cause problems; being uncertain about whether the incident was in fact violence; hoping the relationship will improve; feeling responsible for improving the relationship; having an emotional attachment to the accused; wishing to maintain other relationships connected to the offender; or seeking explanation for the violent behavior.

SACHA wishes to note that the witnesses in this case did express resistance to their experiences with the accused: for example, they came forward and shared their stories upon hearing other similar allegations; they sought support and connection with other women who shared this experience; and they formally reported to the police in October 2014 when then-Police Chief Bill Blair urged women to do so. We recognize these significant actions as meaningful in the face of violence – even though this court case clearly did not do so – and commend all survivors for their own responses.

In response to the Ghomeshi verdict, SACHA also reaches out to those affected by sexual violence in Ontario. 

If something has happened to you, there are people who will believe and support you.

You can talk to a trusted friend, family member, or contact our sexual assault centre support line.  If you are considering reporting, we can help you think through your options.  If you are not considering reporting, that’s okay too.  All calls are free and confidential.  We are here to listen 24 hours a day – 905.525.4162.

If you are a friend or family member of someone who is dealing with sexual violence, there are things you can do too.

You can be an ally to the person who is victimized, instead of the accused. You can listen to the person’s story without judgement, scrutiny or expectations that they formally report.  You can them to find safe places to seek additional support, if needed, too. You too can call SACHA’s Support Line – 905.525.4162.

SACHA recognizes the impact of sexual violence in our community.  We believe that education and information goes a long way toward the prevention of violence.  Together, we will make a difference.

[1] Wente, M. October 28, 2014. Ghomeshi-gate: a bad day for everyone – The Globe and Mail. Online: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/ghomeshi-gate-a-bad-day-for-everyone/article21331661/

[2] Toronto Star. February 1, 2016. Why they came to the Ghomeshi trial | Toronto Star. Online: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/02/01/why-they-came-to-the-ghomeshi-trial.html

[3] Eight women in total informally shared their experiences with The Toronto Star (for a summary, see: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/10/29/jian_ghomeshi_8_women_accuse_former_cbc_host_of_violence_sexual_abuse_or_harassment.html ). Three chose to report to the police.

[4] Patterson, D. 2011. The Impact of Detectives’ Manner of Questioning on Rape Victims’ Disclosure. Violence Against Women, 17(11) 1349–1373: 1370.

TODAY! Show Survivors Your Support


As we learn the verdict in the Ghomeshi trial, let’s show survivors that they are loved, supported, and believed.

selfies to support survivors TODAY

Need help getting started on your selfie? We made you a sign, but are equally excited when you make your own!

i believe survivors signNeed some inspiration from other awesome people?

Check out all the other ways that folks are showing their support for survivors today!

Get Involved: Selfies to Support Survivors


Unless it’s suddenly changed, we’ll be learning the verdict in the Ghomeshi case in a bit more than a week: Thursday, March 24th.

We’re encouraging folks to post selfies or pics of a group of folks with the hashtag #IBelieveSurvivors or #WeBelieveSurvivors on the day of the verdict.

How you can get involved

 On March 24th:

  1. Post pics that you’ve collected and taken all day with the hashtag #IBelieveSurvivors or #WeBelieveSurvivors. Let’s flood social media with messages of love and support for survivors!
  2.  Participate in conversations that are happening online.

 Before March 24th:

  1. Change the avatar on your social media to an ‘I Believe Survivors’ or ‘We Believe Survivors’ image. i believe survivors square
  1. Take a pic of your group or yourself and post it with the hashtag #WeBelieveSurvivors or #IBelieveSurvivors before March 24th to promote the event, get the ball rolling, and to give folks inspiration.
  1. Share the Facebook event (https://www.facebook.com/events/190664507966931/ ) and poster with your followers. Remind folks that it’s happening and encourage them to get involved.
  2. Host a Self Care Crafternoon and create space for survivors and their supporters to do crafts, hang out, and take care of each other – https://www.facebook.com/events/975489709199325/

Check out other ways to take action the day of the verdict – https://blog.sacha.ca/2016/03/15/5-ways-to-say-webelievesurvivors/