Ask First: The Facts
Statistics Canada estimate less than one in ten cases of sexual assault are reported.
Experts attribute the lack of reporting to the following causes:
- Victim blaming causes survivors to fear they’ll be blamed for the assault if they speak up.
- Survivors fear they won’t be believed.
- Survivors fear they’ll be told their experience wasn’t actually assault because it wasn’t violent, didn’t involve physical struggle or was committed by someone they know.
- One in of four women in North America will be sexually assaulted, with women between 15 and 24 being the most likely to be victimized.
- 39% of Canadian women reported at least one incident of sexual assault since the age of 16.
- In 80% of sexual assaults the accused is known by the victim.
Our goal is to create a campus culture where these statistics no longer reflect reality for post-secondary students, and where consent is understood and practiced.
Source: Statistics Canada
The Violence Pyramid represents a continuum of threatened violence ranging from attitudes, to remarks, to assault. Sexual violence is a physical expression of underlying attitudes and beliefs, which can be changed.
Level 1: Attitudes and Beliefs
Sexual violence starts with attitudes and beliefs, including like racism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia. As offenders cultivate these beliefs through exposure and reinforcement by those around them, their belief that certain types of people are not equal to them is strengthened, moving them up the base of the pyramid.
Level 2: Verbal Expression
Offenders express feelings of superiority, testing the waters with jokes or stereotypical statements; even harassing others sexually, or bragging about verbally or physically marginalizing others. The offender can stagnate at this level or internalize a sense of entitlement and move up to the third and final stage of the pyramid – physical violence. Offenders normalize the dehumanization of others, and treat others as less than human.
Level 3: Physical Expression
As offenders move up the pyramid, they feel empowered by their entitlement. This is where sexual entitlement manifests as sexual violence. Offenders believe it’s their right to use sex as a means of control. They often justify the pain they inflict on others because they believe the survivor deserves the assault. They don’t feel responsible for the crime they’ve committed, and may not even recognize their actions as assault.
Source: CCASA, Violence Pyramid
Ask First: Creating a Culture of Consent, is a three-year project launched in Fall 2015 by the Women’s Resource Centre, University of Calgary, in collaboration with the Consent Awareness and Sexual Education Club. It aims to create a campus culture where victim blaming is no longer tolerated and the concept of consent is understood and practiced in the community so all students feel safe and respected.
This project is funded by the Students’ Union Quality Money.