Blog > So Where Do We Go From Here?

So Where Do We Go From Here?

July 20, 2021

Over the past few months, we have seen a tremen­dous flood of online mes­sages of sup­port for sur­vivors in Hamil­ton. Sur­vivors who have brave­ly come for­ward to share their sto­ries have prompt­ed oth­ers to do the same, to say me, too,” and to name the peo­ple, sys­tems, and struc­tures that have per­pe­trat­ed harm in their lives and com­mu­ni­ties. These sto­ries have also great­ly impact­ed those who are not ready or are unable to come for­ward, those who have sto­ries that they have told before, and those who, per­haps, nev­er real­ized they had their own sto­ries to tell. These shared expe­ri­ences have touched our com­mu­ni­ties in some sig­nif­i­cant ways, which have prompt­ed many peo­ple to ques­tion their own roles in and expe­ri­ences of these events, with many open­ly voic­ing their strug­gles with feel­ing com­plic­it, unaware, and uncertain.

With all of these inter­weav­ing ten­sions, ques­tions, con­cerns, and fears – the shared knowl­edge that we have, per­haps, turned a new leaf in Hamil­ton around rec­og­niz­ing the preva­lence of rape cul­ture – comes a fair­ly cen­tral ques­tion that we have begun to reflect on: so what do we do now? This ques­tion can be intim­i­dat­ing as we con­tin­ue to wres­tle with these ten­sions burst­ing to the sur­face, these things that are refus­ing to be ignored. Many peo­ple, in their online posts and pub­lic reflec­tions, have artic­u­lat­ed a bur­geon­ing sense of fear, uncer­tain­ty, and rest­less­ness: know­ing what I know now, how do I move for­ward? What can I do to sup­port sur­vivors in Hamil­ton? How can I chal­lenge rape cul­ture in my every­day life?

SACHA has col­lec­tive­ly rec­og­nized these press­ing con­cerns and ques­tions. In response, we hope to pro­vide some begin­ners’ steps for folks who are grap­pling with these expe­ri­ences, sto­ries, and per­son­al reac­tions and who want to show their sup­port for sur­vivors beyond the cur­rent news cycle. Know that this is a first step into a life­long jour­ney toward dis­man­tling rape cul­ture; we still have a long way to go, but we can always start somewhere. 

Receiv­ing Dis­clo­sures (& Wrestling with Reactions)

  • Rec­og­nize that these con­flict­ing respons­es and reac­tions, where a mul­ti­tude of emo­tions can brim, are total­ly nor­mal for both sur­vivors and peo­ple receiv­ing dis­clo­sures. There is not one right way” to respond to trau­ma and vio­lence, so reflect­ing on the feel­ings you’re hav­ing is a great entry point to these conversations. 
  • If some­one dis­clos­es an expe­ri­ence of sex­u­al vio­lence to you, lis­ten active­ly and inten­tion­al­ly. While these events often have us seek­ing imme­di­ate solu­tions, cre­at­ing space for some­one to talk about their expe­ri­ence with­out judg­ment, scruti­ny, or swift and deci­sive reac­tiv­i­ty is sig­nif­i­cant. In short, believe them, let them know that they’re not alone, let them lead the way, and, when ask­ing how you can sup­port, real­ly lis­ten to the answer.
  • Under­stand that there are many rea­sons why sur­vivors don’t come for­ward and/​or don’t report their expe­ri­ences to for­mal (like to police or a help­ing pro­fes­sion­al) or infor­mal (like friends and fam­i­ly) sup­ports. When many per­pe­tra­tors of sex­u­al vio­lence are known to the sur­vivor (e.g. as an ex-or cur­rent part­ner, a fam­i­ly mem­ber, a boss, a friend, an acquain­tance, a co-work­er, etc.), sur­vivors may have com­plex feel­ings toward them and may not see jus­tice as result­ing from the per­pe­tra­tor being arrest­ed and charged by police. When we know that, sta­tis­ti­cal­ly, only 3 out of 1000 sex­u­al assaults result in con­vic­tion and sen­tenc­ing of the per­pe­tra­tor, many sur­vivors may feel that the jus­tice sys­tem will not bring them the jus­tice they are look­ing for. With these fac­tors in mind, take some time to reflect on why sur­vivors might not be telling their sto­ries and think of the ways in which you can make it a safer space to do so on both micro and macro levels. 
  • If you ever have ques­tions, con­cerns, or things you want to dis­cuss, call SACHA’s 24-hour sup­port line (9055254162), which seeks to pro­vide sup­port to sur­vivors and their allies. Our ded­i­cat­ed team of vol­un­teers is always avail­able to chat about cop­ing with these com­plex expe­ri­ences, feel­ings, and ten­sions that often accom­pa­ny learn­ing more.
  • If you are in a place where you want to learn more about this issue, start read­ing or engag­ing with infor­ma­tion about sex­u­al vio­lence from inter­sec­tion­al, fem­i­nist, trau­ma-informed, and sur­vivor-cen­tric sources. For exam­ple, you can vis­it our web­site and peruse a mul­ti­tude of resources that dis­cuss sex­u­al vio­lence. See a list of resources at the bot­tom of this post to help you get started!
  • Read books writ­ten by sur­vivors and fem­i­nists work­ing to end gen­der-based and sex­u­al vio­lence. Engage with sources that dis­cuss the inter­lock­ing sys­tems of oppres­sion shap­ing expe­ri­ences of sex­u­al vio­lence, where we must rec­og­nize that peo­ple who are Black, Indige­nous, racial­ized, dis­abled, 2STLGBQIA+, low income, house­less or street-involved, and/​or sex work­ers expe­ri­ence sex­u­al vio­lence at a height­ened rate due to these systems.

Edu­ca­tion & Learn­ing More

Tak­ing Action: Bystander Inter­ven­tion & Chal­leng­ing Rape Culture

  • If you have the space/​capacity to do so, lean into the dis­com­fort of read­ing about and engag­ing in con­ver­sa­tions about rape cul­ture and sex­u­al violence. 
  • Use SACHA’s Bystander Inter­ven­tion mod­el to engage with dif­fer­ent strate­gies to chal­lenge every­day expe­ri­ences of sex­u­al vio­lence and oth­er forms of oppression.
  • Prac­tice con­sent in your every­day inter­ac­tions. Ask some­one before you take a pho­to togeth­er or before you give some­one a hug (espe­cial­ly in COVID times!). Check in with your friends, fam­i­ly, and peers to make prac­tic­ing con­sent a nor­mal activ­i­ty in any context.
  • If you are inter­est­ed in get­ting more involved, con­tact your local sex­u­al assault cen­tre or any orga­ni­za­tion seek­ing to end vio­lence to dis­cuss poten­tial vol­un­teer opportunities.
  • Con­tin­ue to speak out about sex­u­al vio­lence! Cre­ate a zine, a video, a blog post, an art piece, or an info­graph­ic. Par­tic­i­pate in online cam­paigns that chal­lenge rape cul­ture and sex­u­al vio­lence (like SACHA’s I Believe Sur­vivors” cam­paign).

Over­all, know that these com­mu­ni­ty respons­es to the issue – no mat­ter how stress­ful, over­whelm­ing, and intim­i­dat­ing – main­tain the poten­tial to do some­thing quite spe­cial: to work col­lec­tive­ly toward dis­man­tling cisheteropa­tri­ar­chal rape cul­ture and to imag­ine a world we haven’t seen yet, one that is built on foun­da­tions of love, care, and sup­port. SACHA is here for you and will work along­side you to do this; you are not alone. 

We thank the sur­vivors who con­tin­ue to sur­vive, to tell their sto­ries, to speak out, to stay qui­et, to just be. Your voic­es, your sto­ries, your expe­ri­ences, and who you are matters. 

We thank the com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers who have com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing sur­vivors, to chal­leng­ing rape cul­ture, to build­ing a safer space for every­one in Hamil­ton and beyond. 

Togeth­er, we can imag­ine a bet­ter world.

In love and solidarity, 

Mad­die Brock­bank — SACHA Man­age­ment Committee















https://​mic​ah​her​skind​.medi​um​.com/​r​e​s​o​u​r​c​e​-​g​u​i​d​e​-​p​r​i​s​o​n​s​-​p​o​l​i​c​i​n​g​-​a​n​d​-​p​u​n​i​s​h​m​e​n​t​-​e​f​f​b​5​e​0​f​6620​#4f15Sex­u­al Vio­lence and Anti-Carcer­al Feminism”



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