Dispelling myths about Sexual Assault

In light of the recent Public Space CBC article by Sarah Adams, there is a pressing need to address the safety of our community. We have received calls and emails from people looking for information and support and we are here to help. Calgary Sexual Health Centre is invested in creating a safe community free from any form of sexual harassment or assault.

Unfortunately, there are still many myths around sexual assault that must be addressed so that our community has a collective of understanding of what consent is (and what it is not). Consensual sex is not confusing; it is an enthusiastic and ongoing agreement between people choosing to engage in sexual activities.

Here are some common myths currently present in Canadian society:

 

MYTH: Sexual assault is committed by a stranger in a dark alley.

FACT: Sexual assault is most commonly committed by a person known to the survivor – an acquaintance, friend, co-worker, partner, neighbor or relative.

 

MYTH: A person is able to give consent when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

FACT: If a person’s decision-making abilities are impaired by drugs or alcohol, they are not able to consent to sexual activities. It is a partner’s responsibility never to ask a person who is inebriated for sex.

 

MYTH: A person cannot change their mind once they have started engaging in sexual activities.

FACT: Consent is ongoing, meaning that a person can change their mind at any point and stop the sexual activity. Just because a person agreed to one activity, does not mean they are consenting to all sexual activities. It is up to partners to check-in during sex to ensure that their partner is comfortable.

 

MYTH: If a person commits a sexual assault under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are not responsible for their actions.

FACT: Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not an excuse to commit a crime; a person is still responsible for their actions no matter how inebriated they are.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

As a friend or supporter of someone who has been sexually assaulted, the best thing you can do is believe them. It is never, ever the survivors fault.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by sexual assault; know that there is support available. For more information on how to get support, go to: http://www.calgarycasa.com

If you are an owner of a bar or business and you want to take action, consider having staff training. Check our website to learn about our training- “Creating a Culture of Respect: Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”.