SHE SAID BOOM: THE STORY OF FIFTH COLUMN

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By Tara Bursey

We have almost reached the end of Woman Abuse Prevention Month, and it’s been heartening to see initiatives and campaigns pop up around town and in cyberspace in observation of it. My friend Leah and I have our own initiative that we’re really excited about happening this Saturday, and we hope that you will attend! All proceeds will go to SACHA to mark this important month, and to honour the important work that they do for the Hamilton community.

Have you heard of Fifth Column? If not, you’re probably not alone. Fifth Column were a multi-disciplinary post-punk group– a group of women from Toronto who formed in 1981. Two members, Caroline Azar and GB Jones, remained a constant until the group disbanded in the 1990s. Continue reading

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Sexual Assault: The Roadshow in Hamilton

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A travelling gallery focused on creating space for survivors of sexual violence to create art will be arriving in Hamilton on August 5th.

SACHA – Hamilton’s Sexual Assault Centre – will be hosting Sexual Assault: The Roadshow for the month of August. The Roadshow gallery – made of a modified shipping container – will travel on a flatbed truck to 15 cities and areas in Ontario over a three-year period.

Hamilton will be the third stop for The Roadshow which has visited Scadding Court Community Centre Scadding Court Community Centre in Scarborough and Ganǫhkwásra’ in Ohsweken.

While in Hamilton The Roadshow will have open hours so community members can experience the art created in previous stops as well as host art making workshops. Continue reading

The Time I Chose To Heal

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by JennyLee

This post originally appeared on Jenny’s blog Survivor Rising.

Healing starts when you choose to start healing.

you are more than what was done to you

Illustration by Emm Roy – http://positivedoodles.tumblr.com/

Most of my life was choosing to survive.  I was not given many options otherwise.  My youth, even after my father was removed from the picture, was very troubled.  My mom struggled with a worsening mental illness daily, becoming less and less able to “parent” and by the time I was ten I was the single parent of a thirty-something woman and an eight year old boy.  Thriving, healing, getting to know myself, playing and loving were luxuries I could not afford regularly.

So I chose to survive.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-seven that I had the ability to actually choose whether I would survive for the rest of my life or thrive.

For the first time ever I was experiencing stability.  I’d been done school and practicing in my field for a couple of years.  Financially I was knowing some security, by which I mean I no longer needed to rely on credit in order to pay my bills.  I had a stable relationship with a wonderful man and had been living in the same apartment for longer than a year.  The stage was set for a healing journey but I was still so ensconced in my ability to cope that I didn’t understand what the stability and safety meant.  I didn’t know how to respond to it.  It seems strange but I was much more comfortable with chaos, fear, anxiety and muscle than I was with comfort, predictability, security and surrender. Continue reading

Amelia’s Story

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Amelia is a Graduate of Small Business & Entrepreneurship with experience as a community advocate in both voluntary and professional settings; she is a survivor of sexual violence with roots in both Oxford County and Hamilton. Amelia has been a service-user at SACHA, as well as a volunteer since 2011.

You can watch a video of Ameila’s story here.

Amelia’s story was recently presented to the provincial government’s Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment.

May is Sexual Violence Prevention Month.

I would like to first thank members of the Committee and all others in attendance today for your interest and participation, as well as your devotion to ending sexual violence and harassment, and gender-based violence in general.

Please know that I understand my experiences to be my own, and though these experiences are certainly reflective of the sexual violence and harassment that others have faced, my perspective is that of a person with certain “unearned privileges”: My light-coloured skin tone, the fact that I do not identify as transgender, and that I am currently physically able-bodied has certainly had defining and lasting positive impacts throughout my journey as a survivor within a society that demonstrates strong preferences for individuals who exhibit these characteristics.

I encourage the Committee, and attendees and listeners, to consider in their approaches the needs of survivors from all demographics.

During my second year of high-school, I was sexually assaulted by another student within school walls. After a couple weeks’ hesitation, and with the encouragement of a friend, I made a choice to disclose my experience to a trusted teacher. It was unclear to me at the time that from the exact moment I made my disclosure, the power to choose what I would go through would not be my own. Instead, the power of choice in the matter would reside in protocol beyond what was accessible to me. Continue reading

The Big Picture – Responding to Sexual Violence in Ontario

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Lenore from SACHA recently presented to the Ontario government’s Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment. Our presentation was about the work that sexual assault centres in Ontario are doing to support survivors and prevent violence and we shared our recommendations for change.

May is Sexual Violence Prevention Month.

Thank you for the opportunity to address the Committee today and share our input. I’d like to start by briefly sharing some information about the organization I am representing today, the Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton and Area) – which is celebrating our 40th anniversary this year.

SACHA provides support to adult women and men (16 years of age and older), who have experienced childhood and/or adult sexual violence at any point in their lives. This includes rape, incest, sexual abuse and harassment.

Last year:

The issue of sexual violence, including harassment, is extremely complex. Today, I would like to focus on 3 key points:

  1. Ensuring that survivors have quick access to high quality, specialized trauma supports.
  2. Recognizing the importance of advocacy and system navigation in supporting survivors and ending victim-blaming.
  3. Shifting the focus away from reporting issues and a criminal response to ensuring that victims are appropriately supported and sexual violence is ultimately prevented.

Continue reading

YWCA Sister Program Let’s Us Know Why They March

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I spoke to participants in YWCA’s Sister program today about workplace harassment.

We talked about lots of ways to cope and respond to harassment. One of the things we chatted about was the power of collective actions like Take Back the Night in responding to and showing our outrage over gender based violence like sexual harassment.

The participants let us know why they march at Take Back the Night:

Let us know why you march at Take Back the Night.  Comment on this post or email – erin@sacha.ca.

SACHA Broadcast — Feminist Links & Hijinks No. 26

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Within the social work world, many members of the profession (especially supervisors) explicitly promote “self care.” That’s great, and appropriate. We should encourage professionals to put on their own oxygen masks before they help others with theirs.

In fact, some people conclude that the high rates of turnover within the profession are specifically connected to insufficient self-care. However, this conclusion is incorrect. The drop-out rates within the field of social work have less to do with individual social workers’ abilities to self-care, and more to do with agencies’ abilities to promote self-care as a culture.

— The Myth of “Self Care” and How Structural Inequality is the Real Culprit, from anachronistica

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After spending a week researching the ongoing Lululemon hoopla, some particularly observational friends guided me to a few excellent xojane articles about black bodies in yoga classes. The first article regarded one woman’s observations of a black woman in her yoga class (“It Happened to Me: There are No Black People in My Yoga Classes and I’m Suddenly Feeling Uncomfortable With It“). The second article was a response from a black woman who read the first article (“It Happened to Me: I Read an Essay About a White Woman’s Yoga Class/Black Woman Crisis and I Cannot“).  The third article came as a response to both, from the perspective of the assigning editor of the original piece:

As the assigning editor, I’d like to respond to some of the criticism.

Because there are a lot of things that I don’t give a fuck about — pageviews among them — but the one thing that I give a huge fuck about is race, and the conversations surrounding race.

Throughout my life as a person, a black woman, a writer and editor, author, mother, daughter, partner and friend, it has always been an integral part of my existence to listen and question, invite and engage in dialogs about race. How can we look at issues surrounding race, racism, cultural appropriation and race consciousness in nuanced, unprecedented ways that will help move not merely the conversation, but the actual systemic foothold of the segregationist, tribal thinking that hurts and hinders the growth and emotional health of both black and white Americans alike.
The same day, this yogi posted her favourite and least favourite poses.

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Jezebel.com shares more on a new Dutch feminist porn channel making its way to the U.S. Yes… THE U.S.A. Weird, I know.

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For stat collectors and others interested in the rampantly growing Prison Industrial Complex:

“In the U.S., where ninety-six percent of the reported perpetrators of rape are white, eighty percent of the men in prison for rape are black.”

— Joseph Weinberg & Michael Biernbaum, Conversations of Consent: Sexual Intimacy without Sexual Assault (via Kim Katrin Crosby)

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Const. Ludjero Café, courtesy COLIN MCCONNELL / TORONTO STAR

Const. Ludjero Café, courtesy COLIN MCCONNELL / TORONTO STAR

In today’s Star coverage, “a former tow truck driver says two police officers mounted ‘a ‘campaign’ of harassment’ that involved taunting him with dildos to get him off the road.”

$1.4 million lawsuit against OPP claims harassment, threats of sodomy

— by Jennifer Pagliaro of TheStar.com

Last I checked, that’s sexual harassment.

—  compiled by Amelia