Many Canadians have heard the name Jian Ghomeshi, particularly if they listen to CBC radio and the well-known program Q. In the past few months the radio show host has been charged with allegedly sexually assaulting a number of women. Additional allegations have been made about sexual harassment in the workplace. Consensual, not consensual, who knew what and when have all been played in the regular and social media.
What constitutes sexual violence and abuse? Dating and relationship violence includes all acts of physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention the definition of sexual violence is any sexual act that is perpetrated against someone’s will. It encompasses a range of offenses, including:
- a completed non-consensual sex act (i.e., rape)
- an attempted non-consensual sex act
- abusive sexual contact (i.e., unwanted touching)
- non-contact sexual abuse (e.g., threatened sexual violence, exhibitionism, verbal sexual harassment)
Many of us know individuals in these types of relationships. What can you do to help? How can you help yourself?
Communities have services for victims of violence. Simply google services for victims of violence plus your province to generate a list of options. One link for services in Ontario is Ministry of Attorney General – Programs and Services for Victims of Crime. Listed are services for women, men and children. This is an excellent resource for all victims of violence including sexual violence. Other services in your community will include your family doctor’s office, non-profit counselling agencies and clergy.
If you are a friend to someone in an abusive relationship, the best thing you can do is listen. Offer support. Understand that the individual has to make the decision to change or leave the relationship, and that this is an involved and complicated process. If you are a victim of violence, reach out for support. Talk to friends, family, and professionals.
If you would like personal counselling, psychotherapy or help with a mental health concern, contact Annette Poechman. Listening, Guiding, Caring.