Blog > Statement in Response to Media Reports: We Believe Survivors

Statement in Response to Media Reports: We Believe Survivors

February 22, 2021

To the sur­vivors com­ing for­ward now, to the sur­vivors who aren’t able to come for­ward, to the sur­vivors who are strug­gling see­ing the reports of vio­lence and abuse, we see you, we believe you and you are NOT alone. 

There is no one right way to cope with the trau­ma you have expe­ri­enced, your path to heal­ing is your own and only you get to decide what is best for you. SACHA will nev­er pres­sure you to report and you deserve sup­port no mat­ter what your choice is. There are many rea­sons why sur­vivors fear report­ing and your abil­i­ty to choose what you need is what mat­ters most right now. There are options for the path you choose to take. If you choose to make a police report know that SACHA can set up phone accom­pa­ni­ments, you do not have to do this alone. To set this up you can call SACHA’s 24 Hour Sup­port Line at 905.5254162. You can also choose to report anony­mous­ly through SACHA. To do so you can call SACHA’s busi­ness line 905.525.4573. A coun­sel­lor will return your call and sched­ule a time to com­plete the report with you. This can take approx­i­mate­ly 1.5 hours and the report does ask some heavy and detailed ques­tions but our coun­selor will be vir­tu­al­ly present with you through­out the process. You can report a sex­u­al assault through anony­mous report­ing with SACHA no mat­ter how long ago the assault occurred and SACHA will not pro­vide any of your per­son­al details to police. It is also impor­tant for you to know that we will sup­port you if you decide that you do not want to report in any way. We can pro­vide infor­ma­tion about your options but every­thing is your choice. You can access our coun­selling ser­vices free of charge no mat­ter the type of sex­u­al vio­lence you expe­ri­enced or when it hap­pened. You can also call our 24 Hour Sup­port Line if you are unsure about what hap­pen to you and you want to ask ques­tions, if you were affect­ed by read­ing about the vio­lence and abuse in the media, or if you just need some­one to lis­ten and always believe you. 

To our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers who are wit­ness­ing these reports of vio­lence and abuse in our com­mu­ni­ty, in local restau­rants and at McMas­ter Uni­ver­si­ty, we ask you to always start by lis­ten­ing and believ­ing sur­vivors. Our soci­ety often finds any way it can to put blame on sur­vivors but no one asks for this, it is nev­er a survivor’s fault. This is rape cul­ture and we must always place blame where it belongs. We can­not take away blame from per­pe­tra­tors by ask­ing what made this hap­pen, it is not about the survivor’s actions, past, or rela­tion­ship to the per­pe­tra­tor that caused this. Sex­u­al vio­lence hap­pens because the per­pe­tra­tor made that choice. They made a choice to cause harm and that is where our focus must be, not on their past, posi­tion, or accom­plish­ments. We know that it is preda­to­ry behav­ior to tar­get peo­ple who are drunk, high, oth­er­wise inca­pac­i­tat­ed, or in a posi­tion of less pow­er as an employ­ee or a stu­dent. We must always call out vio­lence for it is, regard­less of who is per­pe­trat­ing it. We must focus on the sur­vivors and on their needs. We ask you to remem­ber the many rea­sons why sur­vivors choose dif­fer­ent paths, why they may come for­ward or stay silent, why they may go to the police or nev­er report. Some sur­vivors stay silent and nev­er report to the police because they are in fear of police, fear of retal­i­a­tion per­son­al­ly or pro­fes­sion­al­ly, they are avoid­ing the effects of retrauma­ti­za­tion, they know it will be too painful to retell their sto­ry, they don’t trust the sys­tem to find jus­tice, they want to focus on their heal­ing and cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, they wor­ry that they won’t be believed or that they will be blamed. We all have a col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­i­ty to work towards a soci­ety free of vio­lence. You can start by let­ting sur­vivors know that they have allies, that they have a com­mu­ni­ty of peo­ple around them who will not tol­er­ate or ignore vio­lence and abuse, and who will always believe survivors.