Speak up

The subject of sexual assaults is an uneasy one to approach, but, that kind of thinking is what keeps us from supporting the victims and giving them the courage to speak up.

I remember how lonely and confused I felt as I struggled to cope with my assault, the most dreadful night of my life. I felt like I couldn’t come forward and cringed at the idea of someone else knowing what happened.

According to Statistics Canada, sexual assault refers to “all incidents of unwanted sexual activity, including sexual attacks and sexual touching.”

I was deeply unsettled when I saw that over 58 per cent of victims didn’t report their assault because they felt it wasn’t important enough.

People may know what sexual assault means, but it simply isn’t a topic discussed amongst most individuals.

Sexual assault is one of the most highly unreported crimes, with only 10 per cent of all cases reported in Canada.

This is particularly worrying because, as reported by the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, nearly one in four women will likely experience sexual violence in their lifetime.

People tend to conflate sexual assault with rape, forgetting that every manner of attack is different.

These differing levels of severity can cause insecurities in the victim, leading them to question whether or not what happened to them was important enough to report.

But, I believe that every incident is a crime no matter how big or small and should be treated as such. Just because someone stole a pack of cigarettes as opposed to a car doesn’t make them any less of thief. The same can be said of unwanted sexual advances.

I understand why a victim may not want to go through the legal process — they would be stripped of their dignity as they relayed every detail of the crime committed against them.

There must a dialogue between survivors and society — something that first requires reducing the stigma that surrounds sexual assault. Victims of any crime deserve justice. Victims of sexual assault are

no different.

Whether you choose the legal system or not, one thing I’ve learned on my journey is that there are others out there and we won’t be silent.


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