A partnership against sexual- and gender-based violence
Since 2018, May has been recognized as Sexual Violence Awareness Month in Alberta. Bow Valley College, the University of Calgary, and Mount Royal University have maintained a rewarding partnership in standing against sexual- and gender-based violence. Together, we have supported the “Survivor Love Letter” campaign, launched a new consent workshop entitled “Rethinking Consent,” and have promoted awareness of the unique supports available to members at each institution.
In Alberta, 45 per cent of adults report having experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt particularly important to come together to share a message of solidarity and support. Rates of sexual- and gender-based violence were high before the pandemic, and they are even higher now when people have been forced into isolation with partners who cause harm. Survivors have experienced a significant increase in the severity and prevalence of violence.
Erin Kordich, sexual violence response advisor, describes the heart at the centre of this partnership: “The message we relay to those who have been affected by sexual violence is, ‘You are not alone.’ What this ongoing collaboration says is that we stand with survivors and the efforts of supporting survivors advocating for change and creating communities of care takes all of us.”
Rewrite: The Rethinking Consent workshop encouraged participants to shift their perspectives about consent. It highlighted that creating a culture of consent is a collective effort that can foster respect and empathy in our own sexual interactions.
Another component of the collaboration was our participation in the Survivor Love Letter campaign. In its third year, this campaign highlights and celebrates survivors and shows them that they are believed and supported. This year, the College received many wonderful letter submissions which it shared on its social media throughout the month. We’ve included some of the letters here.
We can all be active participants in creating safe and healthy communities of care. Sexual violence support and awareness efforts help provide a safe space where people of all genders, sexualities, and backgrounds can find the support and care they need.
If you have experienced sexual- or gender-based violence or know someone who has, support is available at the College. To learn more, visit www.bowvalleycollege.ca/sv.
You can also arrange a confidential consultation with the sexual violence response advisor by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.