Letters to the Editor

Rethinking sexual assault

Dear Editors,

I’d like to congratulate you on your recent editorial titled “Twitter travesty,” which encouraged the media to focus messages on sexual assault and sexual violence towards initiatives that target perpetrators rather than victims.

Student-organized events including last year’s SlutWalk and new groups, such as the Queen’s Sexual Violence on Campus Awareness Committee, are excellent signs of a more engaged, critical discussion on the issues of sexual violence and sexual assault at Queen’s.

Health Promotion (QueensU Be Well) at Health, Counselling and Disability Services supports the need for strong messages around sexual assault, particularly sexual assault that involves alcohol. This is especially important in September, as statistics show us that first-year female university and college students are at the highest risk for sexual assault during the first eight weeks of school (Canadian Women’s Federation).

Along with our community partners, we are promoting the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign that targets potential perpetrators, as opposed to the victims.

Typically, sexual assault awareness campaigns target potential victims by urging women to restrict their behaviour. Research tells us that targeting the behaviour of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to how much they blame themselves after the assault. That’s why this campaign targets potential offenders — they are the ones responsible for the assault and responsible for stopping it.

By addressing alcohol-facilitated sexual assault without victim-blaming, we are joining several other communities and universities across Canada.

The overall vision for this campaign is to encourage men and women alike to reconsider the way they think about alcohol-related sexual assault. We are hoping that this campaign gets people talking, as we all have something to gain from creating a culture where we can talk openly and honestly
about consent.

Kate Humphrys,
Health Promotion Coordinator,
Health Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS)

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