Sex without consent is sexual assault period.

Sex without consent is sexual assault - period. May is Sexualized Assault Prevention Month. This campaign is a joint effort from Victoria Faulkner Women Centre, Yukon Status Women Council, Kaushee's Place, Whitehorse Aboriginal Women's Circle, Yukon Ab

May is Sexualized Assault Prevention Month. This campaign is a joint effort from Victoria Faulkner Women Centre, Yukon Status Women Council, Kaushee’s Place, Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle, Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council, and Les EssentiElles,

Every year, we work with our peers, colleagues, government, and community partners to build understanding and awareness about the realities of sexual assault in Yukon. One in four Canadian women will be sexually assaulted in Canada. For aboriginal women, the rate is one in two. This is unacceptable.

This year’s theme is “shifting the social response.” Research proves that the response a woman receives from those around her after she has experienced violence has a direct relationship with her path to healing. If she encounters discrimination, judgement, or disbelief after disclosing a sexual assault, she will have a much harder journey. It may lead to a range of emotions and actions including shame, guilt, or violence.

All of us – as a friend, family member, service provider, health care professional, or police officer – can act as unconditional support for a woman. We can highlight the strength, courage, and resistance of women. We can remind her that it’s not her fault, no matter what she was wearing, how much she drank, or where she was. We can reminder of the truth: rape doesn’t happen if rapists don’t rape.

We can also remind victims (and ourselves) that the responsibility for ending sexual assault must lie with men. Although of course not all men will sexually assault women, 97 per cent of offenders are male. It’s time for men to speak out and stand up to end sexual assault.

This year’s campaign features posters that will help to shed light on the realities of what sexual assault is. The posters feature women and men passed out, drinking, and just saying no. Contrary to popular belief, most sexual assault offenders are known to the victim: an intimate partner, a friend, family member or acquaintance. Women may think if someone they know pressured them into sex, it “doesn’t count” as sexual assault. Sex without consent is sexual assault. Period. The Supreme Court has made it clear that consent must be freely given without pressure, while not impaired, and can be withdrawn at any time.

We hope these posters can start a conversation about consent and sexual assault in our community.

Hillary Aitken

Program Coordinator

Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre