Stop Sexual Violence in Grey Bruce
Report & Recommendations from the 2018 STOP SV Community Survey
Prepared by Colleen Purdon for the
VPGB Sexual Violence Prevention Sub Committee,
What is Sexual Violence?
Can we prevent sexual violence in Grey Bruce? What is needed to make change in our community? Violence Prevention Grey Bruce (VPGB), through its Sexual Violence Prevention Sub Committee conducted Grey Bruce’s first Survey on Sexual Violence Prevention. Over 345 people tackled these questions in the STOP Sexual Violence survey conducted December 2017 until the end of February 2018.
Sexual violence, for the purposes of the survey, includes sexual assault and sexual harassment. Sexual assault is a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada. It is an assault that is sexual in nature including: sexual assault; sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm; and aggravated sexual assault. Sexual violence towards children is a crime: Every person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of fourteen years is guilty of an indictable offence.
Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which: violates your dignity, makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated, and/or creates a hostile or offensive environment. (Survey Definition)
We are pleased to present this final report with the findings and recommendations from the community survey. We would like to thank all of the survey participants for their time and for their thoughtful responses to the survey. About two thirds of the participants identified as survivors of sexual violence and told us what was helpful and how we can do more to prevent sexual violence. Service providers took time from their busy schedules to complete the survey, and make sure that the people they serve knew about the survey and had an opportunity to participate. Members and member organizations of Violence Prevention Grey Bruce distributed the online survey and hard copies and made it possible for people from all over the region and with many diverse perspectives to participate. Thank you to the people who responded through our social media campaign and to everyone who took part in the survey.
The Sexual Violence Prevention Sub Committee has worked for many years to explore ways we can prevent sexual violence in Grey Bruce. Some of the key learning that influenced the decision to conduct the STOP SV survey and its design are:
- The need to engage people from all walks of life in a ‘conversation’ about sexual violence (SV) in our community.
- The need to raise awareness and provide information about sexual violence, services and supports in our region, and to counter commonly held beliefs and myths about the issue.
- Sexual violence is a difficult issue to talk about. The confidential survey tool allowed people to speak freely, overcome shame and silence and engage in change in a wide-ranging community conversation.
- There are evaluated and evidence based programs and approaches that can prevent sexual violence. We wanted people to know about these, and hear from them about how we are doing using such programs in Grey Bruce.
Purpose of the STOP SV Survey:
- To create a Snapshot on the current status of evidence based SV prevention activities in Grey Bruce.
- To learn from survey participants what SV looks like in Grey Bruce from diverse perspectives, and to hear about its impact on victims, perpetrators and community.
- To identify priority SV prevention strategies that can inform planning and action for Violence Prevention Grey Bruce and the broader community.
Statistics Canada — Police Reported sexual assaults in Canada 2009-2014
- 87% of victims were female (median age 18)
- 26% of victims were children aged 13 and younger
- 98% of accused charged with sexual assault were male, median age 33
- 87% of victims, where charges laid by police, knew the assailant (usually a family member or intimate partner)
- 83% of victims sexually assaulted by someone older (median age gap 13 years)
of participants gave a poor or fair rating when asked how well we engage men and boys in programs that model positive masculinity and sexual violence prevention.
‘We need to start having open conversations right away and always. This should not start at a specific age. It needs to be the background everyone hears all the time. Otherwise, the background they are hearing is, it was her fault.’
of survey participants rated bystander responses to sexual violence as poor or fair.
Many commented that shame, lack of information or ‘not wanting to get involved’ made it difficult for people to recognize and respond to sexual violence.
‘This is a community where people are primarily taught to be passive…or turn away from unpleasant realities. As a result people who experience sexual violence have additional reasons to keep quiet…our community doesn’t want to hear what we have to say.’
- Development of online survey tool by committee members (several drafts).
- Launch of On line Survey Monkey survey and hard copies available at VPGB member organizations (December 2017 – February 2018)
- Distribution of information about the survey through email, Facebook, internal distribution by member organizations to staff and clients, Facebook ads, hard copies at VPGB member agencies, and VPGB website.
- Review of survey data, analysis and development of key findings completed by committee members at three Sexual Violence Prevention Committee meetings
- Development of a Social Media Campaign from the survey findings for every day of May 2018 (one post for every day).
- Preparation of the final Report and Recommendations for VPGB and the broader community.
- 345 people took the survey, but only 48% completed all the questions. This has an impact on total data collected.
- The online survey format excludes those without Internet access. Hard copies of the survey were available but there was not much uptake (only 3 hard copy responses).
- Due to limited finances, distribution was not accompanied by broad public marketing campaign, with the exception of a Facebook campaign. Most participants learned about the survey from VPGB member organizations so staff and clients of VPGB organizations may be over represented, and the survey input may not be as reflective of the ‘general public’.
- The perspectives of men, young men, young women and LGBTQ and Questioning community was limited with this survey due to their lower participation rate.
- The survey did not ask people to identify their cultural identity, so we do not know if the data collected is representative of the perspectives of Indigenous and culturally diverse people living in the region.
Health and Economic Impact of SV
- Physical injuries (bruising, genital trauma)
- Psychological injuries (depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts)
- Chronic conditions (gynecological, gastrointestinal sexual health problems)
- Increased risk behaviours (smoking, excessive alcohol, increased HIV and STD risk taking behaviours)
- Impact on employment, job performance, job loss, being unable to work.
- Decreased self esteem
- Increased vulnerability to other abuse (intimate partners abuse, additional, sexual violence)
from -STOP SV Technical Package
Myth: Sexual predators are usually strangers
Fact: 87% of sexual assault victims knew their assailant
Myth: The victim should have avoided the assault
Fact: Sexual violence is never the fault of the victim
Stats Can reported that for sexual assaults between 2009-2014 26% of victims were aged 13 and younger. Children are never responsible for their abuse and need caring adults to protect them.
Survey Participants & Perspectives
Who participated in the survey?
- Three hundred fort-five (345) people participated in the survey.
- 85% female (n=293), 13% male (n=45) 2% other (n=5) (Queer, questioning, non-binary, pan sexual). There was one ‘troll’ who completed the survey.
- Women were the majority of the survey participants
- Half of the participants (49% or n=166) were between ages of 41-65, 8% (n=27) were between the age of 16-25, 37% (n=127) were between 26-40, and 6% (n=22) were over 65. Just under half of the participants (45%) were under 40, and just over half (55%) were 40 years of age or over.
What was their experience with sexual violence (SV)?
- 64% (n=218) experienced sexual violence.
- 2% (n=8) identified as perpetrators of sexual violence.
- 46% (n=158) identified as a family member or friend of someone who experienced sexual violence.
Survey participants came from many places of work and interests (VAW and SV workers, police, justice, community organizations, advocates, interested community). The survey included input from broad and diverse community perspectives.
Who is under represented with this survey response?
- Men in general and young men
- Young women
- LGBTQ and questioning
Use of services and supports by people who experienced SV
- Over half of the participants who experienced sexual violence did not use services at all (61% of respondents). They said they had never reached out for services, declined services, or didn’t know about services.
- Services were used over many years (more than 10 years to present)
- 16% (n=53) of respondents used services in the last 5 years because of sexual violence.
- The most frequently used services are: private counsellor (14%), Police services (12%), Community Mental Health Counselling Services (8%), Family Doctor (8%). Victim Services (7%), Hospital Mental Health services (7%), SAC WHSBG (6%), Women’s Shelter services (6%), Community Counselling WHSBG (5%) Hospital Emergency Services (5%). Most of these services provide a range of general services in the community. Only 5 of these services are members of VPGB.
- Family and Friends were rated highest for help and support on a ‘somewhat helpful’ to ‘extremely helpful’ rating scale and they were the most common type of support that SV survivors accessed (almost half of respondents). Services such as Sexual Assault services, mental health services, and health care system were rated much lower on the helpfulness rating scale. Police services and employers scored poorly on this rating scale (9.3 % rated police as not helpful and 10% rated employers as not helpful).
of survey participants believe that children and youth get information about sex and intimate relationships from their friends and peers.
If kids are learning about sex and relationships from their friends and the media then they’re bound to miss important information. We need to talk to young people about sex if we want them to have healthy relationships.
The issue is that not everyone feels comfortable teaching sexual violence prevention, so important areas of the conversation may be overlooked
People think that all kids learn about, sex, sexuality, and relationships at home and at school. But the quality of their learning depends on the comfort and knowledge of adults who may also need to expand their knowledge and comfort level.
I informed my employer of a sexual harassment happening…and they punished the woman it was against…not the accuser
Myth: Sexual Violence survivors should always speak up and report it to the police.
Fact: Victims often stay silent to avoid further violence, judgement, and retaliation. Survivors can access counselling without reporting to police
Evidence Based SV Prevention
The survey gathered information on five evidence-based strategies that prevent sexual violence, to see how well these strategies are working in our region. The survey findings are organized under each of the five prevention strategies under the headings: ‘strengths’ (evidence of the SV prevention strategy), ‘weaknesses’ (little or no evidence of the SV prevention strategy), and ‘discussion’ (what we learned from the data).
Learn more about STOP SV Technical Package at www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/sv-prevention-technical-package.pdf
SPromoting Social Norms that Protect Against Sexual Violence
“The #MeToo campaign seems pretty effective”
“Victim blaming is still rampant…everyone seem to still stand by the saying, there are two sides to every story. This keeps bystanders from doing anything.” (survey participant)
“Consent is something coming more strongly into public consciousness…it’s going to be a huge factor in preventing sexual crimes in the future.” (survey participant)
Survey participants identified strategies in Grey Bruce that promote sexual norms that prevent sexual violence:
- The HER Grey Bruce ‘It starts with me’ poster campaign, the Sheatre ‘Far from the Heart’ production and Sexual Violence Prevention Month in May were rated as effective or very effective by people who knew about these campaigns.
- 66% of respondents said that service providers have a good or excellent understanding of consent, 57% said that adult women have a good – excellent understanding of consent, and 55% said educators had a good-excellent understanding of consent. More than half of the responders said that adult women, service providers and educators have a good to excellent understanding of consent.
- 72% of respondents believe that parents and family members are teaching children and youth skills needed to prevent SV and 63% believe teachers are teaching SV prevention skills in classrooms.
“Consent is hard to isolate when weighed against the possible consequences of not consenting (social, job, family).” (survey participant)
“We are starting but it is moving slowly. Young people are being taught one thing but society is still teaching them victim blaming and the whole boys will be boys mindset.” (survey participant)
- How well do we use bystander approaches to prevent sexual violence in Grey Bruce? Over 50% or respondents rated the bystander response to SV as poor or fair. “Never seen or heard of a bystander helping. People don’t want to get involved.” “When my best friend was sexually assaulted, no one believed her. I was disgusted”. “ I informed my employer of a sexual harassment happening…and they punished and blamed the women it was against, not the abuser.”
- Between 42-92% of respondents don’t know about SV Prevention campaigns that have taken place in Grey Bruce over the past 5 years so they couldn’t say if they were effective. “Don’t know – haven’t hear of any of these campaigns” was a common comment.
- 83% of respondents said boys and young men have a poor to fair understanding of the concept of consent. 76% of respondents said adult men have a poor to fair understanding of consent, and 69% said girls and young women have a poor – fair understanding
- 75% of respondents said we are doing a poor (44%) or fair (31%) job of engaging boys and men in programs that model positive masculinity and SV prevention.
In order to prevent sexual violence we need to change the harmful social norms that accept or allow indifference to violence. Engaging people in bystander approaches to help them identify SV, empower them to speak up about SV, and help them take steps to intervene safely and effectively, and mobilizing men and boys to be allies in preventing SV, support victims, and reduce their risk for future perpetration are both evidence based strategies that prevent SV. Another promising approach is to ensure people understand the concept of consent within sexual behavior.
Survey participants overwhelmingly said that much more needs to done to change social norms to protect against sexual violence. Although there are some promising initiatives and campaigns in Grey Bruce (It Starts with Me poster campaign, May Sexual Assault Month, #MeToo) most participants did not know about them. Survey participants believe sexual violence prevention programs need to be provided by health, police, education and community service organizations.
Interventions by bystanders to address SV were rated as poor or fair and many people noted that there is a reluctance in Grey Bruce to intervene or support victims, and a tendency to blame victims.
They reported that most men and boys are not engaged in programs that promote healthy masculinity, and most boys and men have a poor understanding of consent.
Broad education and training on helpful bystander approaches, healthy masculinity and consent are much needed in Grey Bruce.
Myth: Men and boys can’t be sexually assaulted
Fact: Anyone can experience sexual violence
There are local resources accessible to any survivor of sexual violence in Grey&Bruce including the Sexual Abuse / Partner Abuse Care Centre and Male Survivor Program at the Men’s Program.
Myth: We’re already doing enough to prevent sexual violence
Fact: More than 50% of survey participants didn’t know about 7 of the most visible local campaigns or programs
“Most programs only reach a select few people. There really needs to be more awareness” — survey participant.
TTeach Skills to Prevent Sexual Violence.
‘We need to start having open conversations right away and always. This should not start at a specific age. It needs to be the background everyone hears all the time. Otherwise the background they are hearing is – it was her fault.” (survey participant)
- Far from the Heart, an interactive local theatre production that explores sexual violence in teen dating relationships was chosen as the top identified program to teach skills to prevention SV.
- There is broad agreement that teaching skills to prevent SV needs to start early, with almost half of respondents choosing to start at the elementary school age. Many participants want teaching to start early and be ongoing at every age and stage of life ‘we need to talk about preventing SV our entire lives in different ways.’ ‘Young boys need more education in a compassionate way due to our current culture.’
- Consent is something that can be role modeled at an early age – “I have started talking to my toddlers. When someone says no, that needs to be respected, even when they are little things…”
‘The issue is that not everyone feels comfortable teaching sexual violence prevention, so important areas of the conversation may be overlooked.’(survey participant)
- Although respondents said that parents and teachers are teaching SV prevention skills, over half rated the skill based teaching in the poor (34%) or fair (25%) range. Only 2% said the teaching was excellent.
- Respondents believe the top sources of information about sex and intimate relationships for children and youth are: Friends and peers (81%), Media (TV, radio, movies, music videos, video games (66%) and Social Media (sexting, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) 65%. “Children are frequently given bad information”
“Sexual violence already happened to me but bringing it into the education system would be good…sex education does not teach about or enough about sexual assault.” (survey participant)
There are a number of skills-based training approaches that are effective in addressing SV perpetration, victimization or risk factors for SV including: teaching healthy, safe dating skills; promoting health sexuality through comprehensive sex education; training for women to reduce the risk for victimization; and changing the way children and adolescents think and feel about violence.
In Grey Bruce most survey participants stated that parents and teachers are teaching children and youth skills to prevent SV, but over half rated these skills-based approaches in the poor or fair range. There were no reports of specific skills based training on safe dating, or to reduce risk of victimization.
It appears that survey participants believe that most children and youth get information about sex and intimate relationships from friends, peers, social media and media in Grey Bruce – which may make them more vulnerable to sexual violence.
The findings from the survey show a great need for evidence and skills based based training to prevent sexual violence, and for multi faceted approaches to provide children and youth with good information about healthy sexuality and intimate relationships. There is broad agreement that this training needs to start early and continue across the lifespan.
of survey participants said that service providers have a good or excellent understanding of consent
rated program teaching sexual violence prevention skills was developed locally
Sheatre uses interactive theatre and film to start conversations about dating abuse, sexual assault, and healthy relationships with ‘Far From the Heart’. Visit their website for more info.
of survey participants said that Gay Straight Alliances are supported and active in schools and reduce the risk of sexual violence in schools.
Creating spaces where young people can talk about sex, sexuality, gender, and relationships helps them to think about violence prevention. In fact, schools are required by law to facilitate a GSA if students request one.
Read the law here: www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/safeschools/acceptSafe.html
OOpportunities that Empower and Support Girls and Women
‘We need better access to low income housing, mental health supports – often there is crisis response but ongoing support or evidence based treatments like CBT are not available for women or children when they are not in crisis.’ ‘Many (programs) are faith based which in itself isolates people not willing to participate in faith based activities.’(survey participant)
- Participants noted successful programs and services that provide empowerment and leadership for girls and women, including: ‘Girls that Rock – Lupercalia music weekend’, HER Wellness in Owen Sound, Girl Guides, Kincardine Karate Dojo, the Fall Fair Ambassador program, Rock the Sound Youth Choir with Tara Meckenzie, Sheatre, Keystone girls groups, HER Grey Bruce, Women in Business, YMCA, Music programs, theatre programs, Women’s Shelters, Cadets, ETFO Girls Leadership Day, Run Jane Run.
- Respondents noted there are programs that provide economic, education and/or employment supports that improve the economic situation of women. The top noted agencies are: United Way Bruce Grey, Ontario Works, Women’s Shelters.
‘I can’t think of one person (male or female) that has not experienced a ‘form’ of sexual violence or harassment.’(survey participant)
- 64% of respondents rate the availability of empowerment and leadership opportunities for girls and women in Grey Bruce as poor (34%) or fair (30%).
- Many respondents do not know of any programs or services that provide empowerment and leadership opportunities for women and girls
- 68% of respondents rated Grey Bruce in the poor (35%) or fair (33%) range when it comes to addressing women’s poverty. Poverty has an impact on safety, health, access to resources, and opportunities for women and girls.
- Access to community programs and strategies that decrease gender in equality and power imbalances was rate at the poor and fair levels by over half of respondents in the following areas (in order of highest to lowest) access to affordable housing (74%), Access to employment with pay comparable to men’s pay (62%), access to affordable day care (62%), Access to programs to address racism, discrimination and accessibility issues (60%).
- Some respondents are not aware that there are services and supports for men who are victims/survivors of sexual violence in Grey Bruce.
- Over half (55%) of the respondents who answered this question had experience a form of sexual violence or harassment by someone in a position of power, authority or trust. This included SV by police, doctors, priest, teachers, babysitters, and a gynecologist.
Studies show that there is a connection between empowering and supporting women and girls through income support, education, employment, opportunities for leadership and civic engagement and reducing women and girls’ risk of SV. Poverty and low-income status are directly linked to sexual violence and sexual trafficking, and increase their vulnerability to abuse. Rates of SV are lower in countries where women have higher educational and occupational status.
Most survey participants were not aware of local leadership and empowerment programs for women and girls. There are some programs in place, but they are not widely known, or access is difficult. Participants see a connection between poverty, lack of affordable housing, and lack of leadership programs for women and girls and their vulnerability to SV. Over half of the survey participants who answered this question had experienced sexual violence at the hands of a person in a position of power or authority, including a broad range of professionals, which highlights the need for their access to knowledge, protective and empowerment strategies, and demonstrates their vulnerability to SV. The survey response indicates a need to improve opportunities for empowerment in Grey Bruce, and the need to include SV protective strategies for vulnerable women and girls in current programs in the area.
of survey participants said their workplace has sexual violence and harassment policies and procedures in place.
of survey participants rated the effectiveness of services responding to sexual violence as good or excellent
Almost half of participants familiar with local services rated them highly. Visit our website and 211ontario.ca to learn more about local services. Tell your friends and neighbours too.
The #MeToo campaign seems pretty effective, seems like it may provide the message that perpetrators risk their reputation and careers by harassing and assaulting others
PProtective Environments that change the social and physical environment and reduce risk
‘Awareness is certainly taught, but skills are lacking. Early social skills training on how to deal with anger, frustration, and sexuality need to be taught for both girls and boys.’ (survey participant)
- 60% of respondents said that Gay Straight Alliances are supported and active in schools and reduce risk of sexual violence in schools.
- Workplaces in the health care sector and community or social service agencies were rated more positively than business, manufacturing and service industry sectors for their use of policies, protocols, training and complaint procedures to reduce the risk of sexual violence and harassment in the workplace.
- Over half of respondents (55%) said their workplace has sexual violence and harassment policies and procedures in place. 38% said that their workplace has a formal complaint process. ‘We are a close-knit team of two families. I will bring this up at our next meeting. Thanks!’
- ‘Community officers, when they were in the schools, helped teachers educate students about consent and sexual assault.’
‘My work has policies and procedures written out, but as a company of 60 employees, we do not have an HR person to deal with anything. Everything is swept under the rug and those who speak up about it are reprimanded for doing so.’ (survey participant)
- There were low levels of awareness about protective approaches to reduce risk of sexual violence in Grey Bruce schools (such as designated safe spaces for students, trained staff, protocols for responding to SV when it happens, educated students, staff and student leadership support for non violent and respectful relationships).
- Only 12% of respondents were aware of staff monitoring ‘hot spots’ for sexual harassment or violence as identified by students. ‘Safe spaces needs to be a priority in all schools.’ ‘A grade 8 girl in my son’s class was sexually assaulted by a classmate on the bus during a bus trip. The parents and teachers were at the front of the bus talking. The principal’s response was to ban future grade 8 trips instead of stepping up and admitting that they seriously failed in supervising and protecting.’
- Most respondents (50 – 95%) don’t know how well workplaces are using policies, training, complaint procedures and management commitment to reduce the risk of sexual violence and harassment.
- Although over 33% of respondents said their workplace has SV and harassment policies only 26% said employees get regular training and updates on these policies, and only 24% said their workplace uses these policies and procedures to reduce the risk of SV and harassment
- 69% of respondents rated the criminal justice system response to sexual violence in Grey Bruce as poor (44.5%) or fair (24.4%). ‘The criminal justice system is designed for other types of crimes, and not well suited for emotionally devastating incidents such as sexual violence.’
There is evidence that the creation of protective community environments can support population-level reductions in SV. Three approaches that show promise are: improving safety and monitoring in schools, establishing and applying workplace policies, and using environmental approaches, for example changing laws, enforcing laws, and/or increasing social controls to prevent SV. These approaches can increase feelings of safety at school, workplaces and in communities, reduce bullying and sexual harassment and reduce rates of SV in communities.
The survey response notes that there are some practices and policies in place in schools and workplaces that support protective community environments in place but that the implementation and awareness of these approaches is uneven. Overall there was a call for more awareness and training about how to use protective measures in schools, workplaces and communities. There was considerable interest in learning more about protective measures expressed by survey participants.
The implementation of school and workplaces policies to prevent sexual violence was considered low by most participants. The criminal justice system response to SV was rated in the poor to fair range, which can have an impact on deterring SV and feelings of safety or protection in communities. Police work with teachers within the schools system, helping to teach SV prevention and about consent was seen as positive and protective and consideration could be given to re establishing this collaboration.
of survey participants believe that parents and family members are teaching children and youth skills needed to prevent Sexual Violence
Caring adults have a powerful role to play in teaching young people how to prevent sexual violence. Do you know someone who teaches this effectively? What works for them?
I think we need to speak more directly about violence, not be so afraid to say what we mean, not be so concerned about offending the community
What are you going to do to raise awareness about sexual violence in Grey and Bruce counties? How we can expand the conversation?
SVSupport Victims/Survivors to lessen Harms
‘Child witnesses are not prepared adequately nor do police and judges account for the child development issues which effect disclosure. Police lack sex offender specific training.’ (survey participant)
- 40% of respondents rated the availability of sexual violence services and supports for female youth and women in the good (33%) to excellent (8%) range. Women and young women have more access to service and supports than other identified groups in the region, but there remains lots of room for improvement.
- Promising treatment approaches that would help to lessen harm for victim/survivors of sexual violence were identified by respondents, including: indigenous healing approaches, trauma informed therapy and trauma counselors, Rehabilitation programs for high risk offender through the John Howard Society, Justice Circles, access to counselling through the schools, addressing the falsehoods of rape culture, more available counselling services.
- Respondents suggested promising treatment options for children in Grey Bruce: Long term supportive play based therapy with CBT follow up, Education for parents – how to help their victimized child, or how to deal with their child if a predator, Narrative therapy, trauma informed CBT, Wrap around approach with the family and all services involved.
- When asked to rate the effectiveness of the community response to sexual violence 42% of the respondents rated the response by victim centered services as good or excellent, and 38% rated the response of mental health/addiction services as good to excellent.
‘Too many people don’t understand trauma and how it affects peoples’ brains – including volunteers and workers in some victim-centered services.’ (survey participant)
‘There needs to be more open communication between services.’ (survey participant)
- About half (49%) of respondents rated the availability of victim-centered services to meet the current needs of victims and survivors in the poor (21%) or fair (27%) range.
- Respondents rate the support and coordination between victim centered services and other community services in the poor (18%) or fair (28%) range
- 40% of respondents don’t know if victim centered services use a trauma and violence informed approach in their work: 40% of respondents rated access to services and supports for Indigenous, LGBTQ and disabled victims of sexual violence as poor or fair.
- 38% of respondents rate access to services and supports for perpetrators of SV as poor (25%) or fair (13%).
- Very few respondents (69%) are aware of the availability of evidence based treatment approaches in the region.
- 91% of respondent are not aware of any promising therapeutic approaches for high risk children that are available in Grey Bruce
- When asked how effective our community response is to sexual violence half of the respondents rated service coordination and the police/court response as poor or fair. 46% rated the family court system as poor to fair, and 38% rated the mental health/addiction response and the service response for perpetrators as poor to fair.
Sexual violence and victimization in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood can have long-term effects on the health and well being of survivors. It can also increase a person’s risk for later SV perpetration and problem behaviours for youth and adults. There are evidence-based therapeutic and victim centered approaches that can help survivors and lessen the harms and long-term risks from SV. Three successful approaches are: Victim-centered services (support groups, crisis intervention, advocacy, access to community resources), Treatment for victims of SV (psychological and psychosocial interventions to address anxiety, depression, distress), and treatment for at risk children, including sex offending.
Survey responses showed a low level of awareness of evidence based treatment approaches in the region, especially for high-risk children. There are effective approaches to SV but it appears that most people don’t know about them. There is also a need to improve service coordination, and the response of criminal justice system.
Survey participants would like to see an improvement in services and supports for perpetrators of sexual violence and an increase in trauma and violence informed service approaches for both survivors and perpetrators of SV.
Survey participants described a connection between:
poverty, lack of affordable housing, and lack of leadership programs for women & girls with vulnerability to sexual violence
When people are vulnerable for multiple reasons they are more likely to experience violence and less likely to access supports and services. If our community truly wants to prevent sexual violence, then we need to address the underlying inequity that makes it possible. This means addressing poverty, racism, and sexism, as well as educational and geographic barriers.
Too many people don’t understand trauma and how it affects peoples’ brains – including volunteers and workers in some victim-centered services
It’s not enough to say that we want to #STOPSV, we also need to actively learn and share about the ways that survivors of sexual violence are impacted. People can’t simply ‘get over’ trauma. It needs to be healed. Here’s a link to video with more info www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-tcKYx24aA
10 Priority Actions to Prevent Sexual Violence
86 people responded to the question asking respondents what they believe is the most important action to prevent sexual violence. A summary of their suggestions for action include:
- Educate boys and men on consent, and teach girls and women they can say no.
- Police need to be trained to deal with the victims of sexual violence
- Prevent sexual violence by working with offenders as well as young victims
- Healthy relationship programs for adolescents offered in schools
- Erase the stigma and provide more information on sexual violence and harassment
- Improve coordination among support programs and between organizations
- Change the approach to boys and men – less labeling and stigmatizing. Provide safe space for male folks to share their hurt, learn about the hurt of women, trans, non binary folks, learn about healing and other ways to live,
- Public Education – Use the ‘Into the Open’ model in the education of the public, more education on prevalence of SV, Engage survivors as teachers and speakers, Increase presence of violence against women providers in education, More education on consent and services.
- Increase protective factors for children through family education, reducing the isolation of vulnerable families, improved responses for children.
- Focused community outreach to populations most likely to be perpetrators of sexual violence.
Summary & Recommendations
What is the change we need?
The members of the VPGB Sexual Violence Prevention Sub Committee identified six priorities for change, based on the findings from the survey:
- Engage men and young men in prevention. Sexual violence is not a women’s issue. It is a community issue. Men and boys have a critical role to play in SV prevention.
- Change cultural beliefs and attitudes about sexual violence such as: victims are to blame, men cannot control their sexuality, it is better to remain silent than seek help, and victims need to ‘get over it’. Replace myths with good information about sex and sexual violence.
- Overcome secrecy and talk about this issue – we need to ‘normalize’ talking about sexuality and sexual violence issues, address the stigma and shame surrounding SV, and understand how we are desensitized towards sexual violence through its portrayal in media and social media as well as through acceptance of powerful myths and attitudes.
- Understand and educate everyone about consent, respecting ‘no’, and that ‘no’ is an option for women.
- Engage the public and services in broad, evidence based prevention strategies to address the pervasive nature of sexual violence in our communities.
- Improve the service response for victims and offenders. Use trauma and violence informed approaches and prevent revictimization, improve services and supports for men and boys, improve the response of the criminal justice system, focus on both crisis and longer term services and support that both victims and offenders need, make sure everyone knows about community services, how to access them, and what to expect, include and support input and direction from people with lived experience of sexual violence in the system response.
Specific Recommendations for Action
SSocial Norms that protect against sexual violence
That Violence Prevention Grey Bruce take a leadership role and partner with key community stakeholders to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence in the region and the need to change beliefs, attitudes and behaviours to prevent it. This could include:
- Coordinated campaigns during May (designated as Sexual Assault Prevention Month) carried out by diverse service sectors (health, justice, violence against women, education, etc.) and community stakeholders (workplaces, service groups, municipalities, etc).
- Introduction and implementation of effective bystander training approaches across service sectors and in communities.
- Development and implementation of workshops and learning opportunities to improve the understanding of consent for men and women of all ages.
TTeach Skills to prevent sexual violence
That VPGB take a leadership role and partner with key community stakeholders to implement evidence based skills training opportunities, increase community capacity and prevent sexual violence in the region. This could include:
- Workshops and skills training sessions for parents, teachers, friends, neighbours on how to talk to children and youth about sex, sexual violence and sexual violence prevention, how to respond and support children and youth when they disclose sexual violence, information about community resources and supports.
- Workshops and skills training sessions for youth on healthy relationships, risk factors, sexual violence prevention, where to get help, supporting friends and peers who disclose sexual violence, training for peer mentors and supports.
- Bringing key stakeholders together to develop a plan with the education sector on how best to support educators, students and parents of students develop necessary skills to address and prevent sexual violence.
OOpportunities that empower and support girls and women
That agencies, organizations, community groups, and intersector coordinating bodies (for example: The Poverty Task Force, Children’s Alliance, VPGB, Human Services and Justice Committee, Healthy Communities) develop new approaches to empower and support girls and women living with poverty who are at risk of sexual violence. This could include:
- Development of new leadership and empowerment programs for women and girls in Grey Bruce that include training and information on sexual violence prevention. Include women with lived experience of sexual violence as experts and leaders in training and empowerment programs.
- Improving access and awareness to existing leadership and empowerment programs, and ensuring that information on sexual violence prevention is included in these programs. Include women with lived experience of sexual violence as experts and leaders in training and empowerment programs.
- Action that will strengthen broad connections and engagement at the service and community levels and support a common voice that advocates for policies and investments in poverty reduction, affordable housing, accessible services, and a reduction in the risk of sexual violence for people living with poverty.
PProtective Environments that reduce the risk of sexual violence
- That VPGB and its member organizations provide community workplaces and schools with information, tools, skills training and support to implement policies and practices that will provide protective environments that can prevent sexual violence.
- That police services and the criminal justice system improve their response to victims of sexual violence, provide a trauma and violence informed approach that links victims to community supports and services, and uses existing laws and processes to support justice for victims of sexual violence.
S/VSupport Victims and Survivors to lessen the harm of sexual violence
That VPGB and its member organizations provide leadership to:
- Improve service coordination and improve system navigation for survivors of sexual violence so there is ‘No Wrong Door’ for people who reach out for help to deal with sexual violence.
- Improve awareness and access to existing evidence-based treatment approaches, and work together to address wait times and service gaps
Support the development of effective local treatment and support options for offenders and those at risk of offending. More supportive services and interventions are needed for young offenders, or young people at risk of offending to help them in order to prevent future sexual violence.
- Look at joint training opportunities and broad implementation of trauma and violence informed treatment and service responses that reduce the risk of re-traumatizing victims, and reduce the fear and stigma that survivors experience.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the SV Survey and to our readers and supporters. Together we will work to prevent sexual violence in Grey Bruce! We welcome your comments and feedback at our contact page.