The Revolution Starts at Home

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maroon” by Humphrey King licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Post by Hannah Barath, Co-op Student Assistant at Access & Diversity

It seems like there are certain acts of violence that someone is always willing to talk about. Murder for example – there is an abundance of books, songs, films and television shows about just this. Other types of violence are deemed as private issues that are best dealt with behind closed doors. This means that even having experienced a particular act of violence can lead to shame and stigma. Sexual violence and intimate partner violence are two examples that fall into this category. However, there are many activists who are doing amazing work in raising awareness about and destigmatizing these issues. This blog post will primarily focus on intimate partner violence, what it is and how it affects different communities.

A few months ago I read an amazing book called The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence within Activist Communities. As the title suggests, this is a collection of essays and reflections on intimate violence in feminist, anti-racist, LGBTQ2I, and activist communities. It was an incredibly powerful read and I learned so much about intimate partner violence, allyship, and accountability. The anthology is edited by Chin-In Chen, Jai Dulani and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. I was also fortunate enough to attend a talk with Leah during UBC Sexual Assault Awareness Month in January 2015. In this talk, titled Strong Communities Make Police Obsolete Leah talked about the activism that she has been involved with, the importance of self-care, and justice methods that offer an alternative to the police.

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2015

SAAM-fb-cover-photo-to-shareJanuary is Sexual Assault Awareness Month at UBC.

Sexual assault affects people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations. Help end the violence by participating in one of many Sexual Assault Awareness Month events this January. Learn more about sexual assault, how to help prevent it, and the supports available for survivors. And don’t forget to wear denim on Denim Day, January 21, to show others you’re standing up against sexual assault.

We would like to highlight our keynote speaker, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Her talk, “Strong Communities Make Police Obsolete” will take place on Tuesday, January 27 at 12.30 – 1.30pm at the Liu Institute of Global Issues. For full details regarding this event see our online events calendar or our Facebook event.

Please find a highlighted list of events during SAAM below. Read more for more information and events. If you attend or would like to follow what’s happening on social media, use and follow us at #saamUBC.

  • Thursday 15
    • BARtalk #14: Feminism in the Media, hosted by AMS and Terry Project UBC. 6-7.30pm, at the Gallery Lounge.
  • Tuesday 20
    • Anti-violence ally training, 10am-12.30pm. Contact Ashley Bentley at AMS Sexual Support Centre, sascprog@ams.ubc.ca to register.
    • AMS SASC is screening the film Stalled, followed by a discussion with film-maker Megan Gardiner. 7-8.30pm, Irving K. Barber 261.
  • Wednesday 21
    • Denim Day: Stand up for a respectful campus and ask the same of your friends. Wear denim, a Denim Day sticker, or both on January 21 to stand against sexual assault. Stickers provided by Access & Diversity, email students@ubc.ca
  • Sunday 25
    • Place Vanier: Start Talking art show, Shrum Lounge 6-8pm. For UBC residents.
  • Tuesday 27
    • Access & Diversity presents keynote speaker Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, 12.30-1.30pm, Multipurpose Room, Liu Institute.
    • AMS SASC, FUS and LFSUS are hosting a SAAM Showcase, 6-8pm, Agora Café.
  • Wednesday 28
    • AMS Speakeasy: Art Speaks – #StartTalking art exhibition, SUB Art Gallery, 5-8pm
  • Friday 30
    • Really? workshop: Anti-discrimination awareness response training, 3.30-5pm, Simon K.Y. Lee Global Lounge. Register at u@ubc.ca

For more information regarding events and to find resources related to sexual assault awareness, please visit students.ubc.ca/saam.

May I Kiss You?

Post by Hannah Barath, Access & Diversity Co-op Student Assistant

It’s strange to be in Totem Park Ballroom for the first time in over two years. The reason I’m back is to see a presentation called “Can I Kiss You?” byMike Dormitz. Travelling all across North America, he has done this presentation for audiences in middle schools to universities, and even in the US Military. The overarching theme of this presentation is consent, which is discussed alongside bystander intervention techniques, sexual assault awareness and personal responsibility.

The presentation starts by exploring why it is important that consent, which is the voluntary and enthusiastic agreement to sexual activity of any kind, is verbal. As Dormitz says, in intimate (and other) situations we often rely on body language and other nonverbal cues to be trustworthy indicators of what other people are thinking. Although this mode of communication is one that we use a lot, it is also very often misinterpreted. Any sexual activity, from kissing to intercourse and everything in between, that is not consented between partners classifies as sexual assault. Since body language is so often misinterpreted, communicating verbally is the best way to ensure that consent is present.

Throughout the “Can I Kiss You?” presentation it was emphasized that people of any gender and sexual orientation can be sexually assaulted. Although it could happen to anyone, I think it is important to recognize that the vast majority of people who experience sexualized violence are women and LGBTTQI folks. In a society where shaming, victim-blaming and silencing are common responses to survivors of sexual assault, it is great to see that the focus of this presentation is on the responsibility and accountability of perpetrators and bystanders is emphasized and addressed. By using humor to dismantle ingrained notions of why we rarely get consent verbally, or intervene in situations where we see someone being “taken advantage of,” everyone in the room realized that we have been socialized to not react in these particular situations. As Domitz explores, it is always the responsibility of the person initiating intimacy or any sexual activity to check that consent is present. By practicing consent in our everyday life, and intervening if we see a nonconsensual sexual situation, we can impact both individual lives and the culture around these issues.

Although people who are intoxicated or otherwise unable to make informed decisions cannot give consent, it is common to see people “hooking up” at parties. If someone who is less or not at all influenced takes advantage of the fact that another person’s judgment is clouded, they are sexually assaulting that person. This is a fairly common scenario, and it can be difficult to know how to intervene or realizing that we have a responsibility to do so. In response to this Dormitz shared some concrete steps and actions to use when intervening, the first being to identify the situation. Once you’ve done this, check in on the person, by yourself or with a group of friends. When intervening, stay calm and focus on preventing a potential sexual assault in a manner that is safe for everyone involved. By giving people clear guidelines on what to do it becomes easier as a bystander to recognize and do something next time one sees a similar situation.

Mike Dormitz’s “Can I Kiss You?” is an engaging and informative presentation that opens up really important conversations around consent, sexual assault, and personal responsibility. Hopefully it will spur more individuals to think more about what they can do to reduce sexualized violence and learn more about consent, and that those in attendance will pass on what they learnt to their peers. If you missed out on this event you can get Dormitz’s book “May I Kiss You?” There are also many local resources, you can attend a Really? workshop or find lots of resources for survivors, those supporting a survivor or those who are just interested in learning more at the AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre.

January is Sexual Assault Awareness Month at UBC!

Stopping sexual assault is everyone’s responsibility. As friends, relatives, lovers and neighbours there are important and concrete actions we can take to raise awareness and stop violence.

January is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) – a UBC community initiative developed to raise awareness across campus about the issues behind sexual assault and violence. Our focus is a positive one, inspiring people to realise that we can all play a role in putting an end to sexual assault.

Get Involved!

A range of SAAM activities and events are held across the UBC Campus during January. You can take part in SAAM by hosting an event, attending one of our events or downloading and sharing our helpful resources.

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

This date marks the day that  an armed man walked into an Engineering class at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal, taking the lives of 14 women because he believed they were responsible for his failure to gain entrance to the school. He believed that feminists ruined his chances because of affirmative action in universities.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend the UBC memorial service held on Thursday 29 November, there are still a series of activities to help mark the day, remember those that lost their lives and remind us that violence against women continues in Canada and around the world.

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January is Sexual Assault Awareness Month at UBC!

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is a UBC community initiative that was developed to help put an end to sexual violence and make our campus safer for everyone! We want to engage and inform the UBC community to spread awareness about this important issue. Our focus is a positive one – we intend to inspire people to realize that stopping sexual assault is everyone’s responsibility, and that as friends and bystanders, there are important and concrete actions we can all take to raise awareness and stop violence. For more information please visit our website at http://blogs.ubc.ca/saam or email us at sa.awareness@ubc.ca.

Current Featured events:

Wednesday, January 11th & Thursday, January 12th Sexual Assault Awareness Month Info Fair in the I.K.Barber Learning Center, 1961 East Mall, UBC

Wednesday, January 18th Denim Day. A campaign aimed to raise awareness about sexual assault. We encourage all individuals to promote awareness and support our community’s sexual assault awareness programming by getting involved.

Monday January 23rd Lecture with Dr. Jackson Katz titled “Men, Women, Sex and Violence”