Three Reasons Sexual Assault Centres Support Sex Ed


This September, Ontario will revert to an outdated 1998 sex-ed curriculum. Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC) believes that this shift will adversely impact Ontario’s young people.

Providing comprehensive sex-ed is first and foremost “about making sure that young people receive the information they need and are entitled to in order to live safe, healthy and fulfilling lives”. With the repealing of the 2015 sex-ed curriculum, Ontario youth will miss out on the following vital content:

I. Education which fosters the prevention of sexual violence

Ontario’s 2015 Health and Physical Education Curriculum includes information about equitable and safe relationships, consent, sexual violence and online violence that young people need today. This is particularly important because we know that young populations are at a high statistical risk of experiencing sexual violence. For example:

  • In a Canadian criminal justice report, males made up 29% of child victims and 12% of youth victims¹. For males, being under 12 years old heightens their vulnerability to being targeted for sexual offences²
  • Young women between the ages of 15 and 25 years in Canada are the age group most likely to experience sexual or relationship violence³
  • Young women from excluded groups are more vulnerable to being targeted for sexual harassment and sexual assault4. This includes women of colour, disabled women, intersex, queer, trans, and Two Spirit women.

Education on sexual violence goes a long way towards prevention. Education offers innovative ways to challenge sexual assault myths and victim-blaming; and to reach out to diverse and young populations to talk about things that they may not be having conversations about at home. Education on sexual violence contributes to the prevention of sexual assault by:

  • supporting young people to understand their rights. By being prepared to offer information about sexual violence, educators help equip young people with a clear understanding of their bodies, their rights and where to go should they ever need support.
  • identifying the continuum of sexual violence (from harassment to rape)
  • supporting young people to challenge sexual assault myths
  • knowing the laws concerning sexual assault and consent

Education can also help others learn how to respond to survivors who disclose their experiences, and direct them to helpful supports in the community. Research indicates that many survivors wish to talk about their experiences, but fear the reactions of others. When survivors receive a positive response from their disclosures, the benefits of talking about one’s experience of sexual violence are in fact “associated with improved psychological health, increased comfort, support, and validation, and desired outcomes such as penalizing the perpetrator and protecting others”5. Other research shows that young survivors are most likely to disclose to a peer, family member or someone with whom they have a prior trusting relationship (that is, not necessarily to a social worker or other professional)6.

For these reasons alone, it’s important to talk with young people about sexual violence in the very spaces in which they spend much of their time – including at school. Continue reading


No More Murdered Women


We are hurting that there was another femicide in Hamilton. We remember, grieve, and fight for Natasha Thompson.

Here’s a whole post of ways to recognize violence and how to help.

Lots of friends ask ‘Why didn’t she just leave?’ without realizing how complex the abuse is and that the most dangerous time for a survivor is when they leave the relationship.

How we can help a friend: You can never ever go wrong with believing them and saying “I’m here to help”. Listening, validating, and letting someone know what’s happening to them is abuse and not ok.

Supporting survivors like first aid; we should be practicing the skills before we ever think that we would need them.

Learning what is an isn’t violence is the first step.

We’ve got LOTS of resources on our website on how to take everyday action, #BystanderIntervention#SupportingSurvivors, and you can always call our 24 Hour Support Line if you’re worried about a friend – 905.525.4162.

Neighbours, Friends and Families has created a list of warning signs that an abusive relationship might be lethal including:

– He has access to her and her children
– He has access to weapons
– He has a history of abuse with her or others
– He has threatened to harm or kill her if she leaves him: He says “If I can’t have you, no one will.”
– He threatens to harm her children, her pets or her property
– He has threatened to kill himself
– He has hit her, choked her
– He is going through major life changes (e.g. job, separation, depression)
– He is convinced she is seeing someone else
– He blames her for ruining his life
– He doesn’t seek support
– He watches her actions, listens to her telephone conversations, sees her emails and follows her
– He has trouble keeping a job
– He takes drugs or drinks every day
– He has no respect for the law
– She has just separated or is planning to leave
– She fears for her life and for her children’s safety or she cannot see her risk
– She is in a custody battle, or has children from a previous relationship
– She is involved in another relationship
– She has unexplained injuries
– She has no access to a phone
– She faces other obstacles (e.g. she does not speak English, is not yet a legal resident of Canada, lives in a remote area)
– She has no friends or family

Women who are under 25 years of age, disabled women, Indigenous women, and women living common-law experience violence at much higher rates.

If you are experiencing violence in a relationship: You are worthwhile. You are powerful. We are here for you. It is possible to live without violence.

It is possible to have a world without violence and we look forward to building that world with you.

Hamilton Reads to End Sexual Violence


This year’s Hamilton Reads (#HPLreads) book is Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People.

SACHA has partnered with the Hamilton Public Library to offer workshops and event in September and October!

You don’t have to have read Zoe’s books to be able to attend the events.

Thursday, September 7th at 4pm – Zine Making
Central Library – 2nd Floor Program Room

Create a “Messages of Support for Survivors”-themed collaborative zine using varied and art-making techniques in this two-hour workshop. No prior experience needed. Supplies provided. Drop in. All genders/ages welcome.

Sunday, September 10th at 2pm – Telling Our Stories: Immigrant Women’s Resilience
Central Library

A unique graphic novel written by immigrant women to support immigrant women working to end sexual violence. Created with help from Centre sante communautaire, Mouvement ontarien des femmes immigrantes francophones, and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

Take Back the Night Sign Making Parties!

Got an awesome idea for a sign for this year’s Take Back the Night? Just want to play with markers and bristol board? C’mon over to Hamilton Public Library’s Pre-TBTN Sign Making Party!

HPL will supply bristol board, markers, and sign making supplies but if you have any special art supplies you would like to bring you are more than welcome.

Folks of all genders welcome to this free event.


Central Library – September 14th and 21st from 4-5pm
Red Hill Library – Tuesday, September 26th at 6pm
Saltflleet Library – Wednesday, September 27 at 6pm

Tuesday, October 3rd  – Safe Partying
Central Library at 3pm
Waterdown Branch at 7pm

Half of sexual assaults in Canada involve alcohol. This interactive session will give participants harm-reducing tools for ending alcohol facilitated sexual assault and online sexual violence.

Wednesday, October 4th – How to be an Ally to Survivors
Ancaster Branch at 2:30pm
Barton Street Branch at 7pm

If a coworker, family member or friend told you they had been assaulted, would you know how to respond? This interactive session will get participants thinking through the best ways of supporting people we love who have experienced sexual abuse.

For the Ancaster workshop please register ahead of time by calling – 905-648-6911.

Tuesday, October 17th at 6pm – Decolonizing Sexual Violence
Central Library

Join us for a panel conversation and learn from powerful Indigenous activists talking about their work ending sexual violence.

Wednesday, October 18th at 6pm – Sexual Violence: Beyond the Rainbow
Central Library

Learn realities of sexual violence for LGBQT2S folks and tactics for disrupting intersecting opressions contributing to violence: homophobia, transphobia, sexism and so much more.

Bystander Intervention Skills


You can interrupt sketchy behaviour at a bar, concert, or a party to prevent
sexual violence.

These skills are new for lots of folks! Just like first aid, these strategies require learning, relearning, and practice.

SACHA has got your back! If you see something sketchy and you unsure how to take action, you can call SACHA’s 24 Hour Support Line to chat about ideas and options – 905.525.4162.

The number one action you can take RIGHT NOW is:

Bystander Intervention Skills


Don’t go it alone. Gather your peeps. Who is near that can help?A friend? Security staff? Even if it’s just to validate that the behaviour is not OK.

  • “I think she needs our help, but I don’t know what to do. Have any ideas?”
  • “Will you watch while I go chat with them?”


Approach either the person being targeted or the person doing the harassing and be direct.

  • “Are you OK?”
  • “Can I help you?”
  • “That’s not OK.”
  • “You need to stop.”


Think of a way to distract the folks involved in the situation: either the person being targeted or the person doing the harassing.

  • “Can you take a pic of my friends and I?”
  • “What time is it?”
  • “Where’s the washrooms?”
  • “That’s a FAB outfit! Where did you get it?”
  • “My friend’s gone missing. Can you help me find them?”


Make a record or keep your eye on the situation in case it escalates.

Bystander Intervention by SACHA


Getting Ready for Welcome Week


SACHA and the Equity Inclusion Office are full into training volunteers and staff to get ready for Welcome Week at McMaster University.

In April, we led an hour long workshop on taking action to end rape culture. Check our highlights from our presentation two years ago. Yesterday, we completed seven of the twenty workshops that we are facilitating this week. We focused on McMaster’s Sexual Violence Response Protocol. You can read the protocol here and take a peek at highlights from the presentation here.

Today we worked with the 57 Maroons, that represent McMaster’s Students Union.

We led a short 90 minute intro to preventing sexual violence at mass gatherings with Bystander Intervention techniques.

SACHA Rack Card 2016Last year was the first time they got bystander training and the shift away from worries and fears to folks sharing strategies that they know have worked was measurable.

These are strategies that we need to learn, relearn, and practice.

How are you – as a participant or as an organizer – working to end sexual violence at mass gatherings?

If you see something sketchy happening at the bar, concert, or festival, SACHA is here to chat about ideas on how to help 24 hours a day – 905.525.4162.

We have some follow up links for today’s participants:

We’ve gotta take a nap because we’ve got twelve more presentations this week!


Broad Convos & Participation – Pearl


Broad Conversations are gatherings in Hamilton, Ontario for feminist broads. Gatherings are structured to inspire new ideas and reflections on important themes within a feminist context. 

Pearl Mendonca shares her thoughts on this month’s theme of participation.

pearl“How do we define, value and manage participation as feminists, women, as citizens?” 

This was the question our panel was asked at the second Broad Conversations event.  It’s a fascinating question, and each of us on the panel took the conversation in completely new and awesome directions.

Here were my thoughts:

I’m going to look at my participation from three experiences: 1) as a woman of colour; 2) as a survivor of sexual violence and 3) as a bodywork practitioner.

As a woman of colour, I’m very aware of my own experience of race and how it has impacted my own participation.  This also makes me think of representation – where are women of colour’s voices represented?

I am familiar with the societal expectations of the way that I will participate as a brown woman.  I am also aware of my family’s expectations, cultural expectations – how I have internalized all of these expectations and lived within them.

As a woman, especially as a woman of colour, I’ve hesitated many a time in speaking up and raising concerns.  It has been difficult at times to find my voice.  It often takes me time to navigate different and difficult spaces, and even then, I need to feel a sense of safety. Continue reading

#UseTheRightWords: Reporting on Sexual Violence Awards


Recognizing that Canadian media has the power to shape conversations about sexual violence, we want to celebrate insightful and challenging media reporting on sexual violence in the past year.

To get involved,  nominate articles and authors in the Canadian media at the local, regional or national level (e.g. Globe and Mail, Buzzfeed, Chatelaine, National Post, Toronto Star, Vice, Huffington Post, Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen, etc.) that you think are deserving of one or more of the following awards:

Use The Right Words: Reporting on Sexual Violence Awards

  • Super Sleuth –  Best Investigative Article
  • Survivors Know Best: Best First Person Narrative
  •  We Begin by Listening: Best Interview
  • We Revolt at Dawn  – Best Overall Article
  • Desk Flip – Worst Overall Article and Author

To nominate an article for an award, go to and submit your choices. The nominations will be open from December 8th 2016 – January 21st 2017.

Awards will be conferred on February 1st, 2017, the anniversary of the Ghomeshi trial. The awards are organized by femifestoOttawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW)Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, and Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education at Ryerson University.