Monthly Archives: September 2012

on how to be a supportive ally to survivors of sexual violence

last night, i was hanging out with some friends after a meeting at our local annex church. our bunch was planning to just go out for some coffee while others headed to eat some burgers. i could tell something was up. i hadn’t seen this particular friend for a bit but knew that she was “just coming back”(back to recovery, back to being sober). for anonymity sake, i was refer to this friend as kate. another man who was just coming back, that was hanging around us, had been drinking and was pushing personal space boundaries with kate. we will call this guy harold. harold kept asking kate to hang out and was sexually harassing kate, while kate repeatedly said no. another friend noticed that this was happening and she was trying to intervene and support kate. lets refer to this friend as emily. emily took kate aside and talked to her one on one. throughout the rest of the eve, harold continued to dominate space while in his intoxicated state. emily and i, continued to monitor our hangout in case another unsafe situation occurred.
what happened here, was that harold created an unsafe space, continued to maintain that unsafe space and was not asked to leave in order to create a safe space. the writings to come are not meant to put blame or centre out anyone for what they should have done and for what they did not do. for me, i am taking responsibility for my lack of action and i am using this space to reflect and learn.
what i was reminded of, is that i really do not know how to be a supportive ally when sexual violence is occurring to someone and how to be a supportive ally to survivors of sexual violence.
back when i was using drugs, a person that was a large part of my life had shared with me that they were sexually assaulted by a family member when they were a child and that they had been raped during the time we were friends. i was cold, blank, flat. i knew not to blame them, i knew that at least. but i really did not know how to support them through any sort of healing process. all we did was use more drugs.
i feel grateful that today, being clean and sober, i have to the opportunity and privilege to be a more caring, loving and supportive person. it’s not an excuse today to say “i don’t know”. after i got home last evening, i did a quick search. i came across the sexual assault/rape crisis centre of peel website. on the website, there is a section titled, “how to support someone who has been sexually assaulted.” the site page lists these suggestions on how to be a supportive ally to a survivor of sexual violence:
▪ Listen. Sit with her and let her talk.
▪ Believe her.
▪ Acknowledge her strength and courage.
▪ Reassure her. Make room for her feelings. Remember that there is no right way to feel. Survivors feel a wide array of things.
▪ Do not pass judgment. Be clear that the assault is not her fault. It is always the responsibility of the offender, no matter what.
▪ Do not search for details of the assault – she will tell you what she wants to know.
▪ Educate yourself about sexual assault and the healing process.
▪ Express your feelings, without overwhelming her.
▪ Respect the time and space it takes to heal.
▪ Encourage her to get more support, i.e. counsellor, friends, family
▪ Get some help and support if she is suicidal. Help her through this difficult time.
▪ Know and accept that your relationship and life may change dramatically as she heals. Be patient. Support her through these changes.
▪ View her as a survivor, not a victim. See her as the strong, courageous women she is.

this evening, with 2 other gay male friends, we attended take back the night 2012. first, there was a rally with inspiring speakers and performs. the rally was followed by a march for the ladies throughout the streets and alley ways of parkdale. for the men, the was an informal discussion of how to be a supportive ally to sexual violence supporters that was put on by 2 male members of the white ribbon campaign. in addition to being a supportive ally, the talk discussed topics of masculinity, changing sexual violent and rape culture.
there are a couple of questions that i have been thinking about for awhile now…how can i be a supportive ally to women and queer people while not taking on a role of being the masculinist protector? how can i be supportive while respecting self-determination? what makes our culture so permissive to violence against women, homosexual people, transgender, queer people?
i didn’t really get any answers to these questions. what i did need was simple but realistic ways to be a supportive person to someone who is a survivor of sexual violence but also how to dismiss a culture of sexual violence. what i got was resources; links and literature. what i shown was how to be compassionate but also how to take responsibility for my role to let people know that a culture of violence, sexual violence is not cool.

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going jobless, moving towards being less materialistic

last week, i left my job.  i had been working for this company for almost 4 years.  it was probably the best customer service job i have ever had.  i worked with people that are passionate.  i worked with people … Continue reading

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