TORONTO RAPE CRISIS CENTRE | MULTICULTURAL WOMEN AGAINST RAPE
The statistics for sexual assault are staggering and the victims who come forward are often ignored. LES WOO has partnered with TRCCMWAR and we want you to know that you are not alone.
We are committed to campaigning and raising money for TRCCMWAR.
For the next six months LES WOO will be donating a portion of every purchase to the Crisis Center. Rape should never happen, but we live in an imperfect reality and survivors need support.
We had the opportunity to interview Deb Singh a Counsellor and Activist about statistics, reporting and counselling.
"Let’s listen to survivors, believe them and take their leadership when sexual assault happens."
1. What is institutional violence?
Institutional violence or systemic violence are acts perpetrated and sanctioned by the system. These systems can include police departments, governments even the school system. This is in contrast to interpersonal violence, where one person perpetrates violence against another. While this is how violence can happen, systems like the state can order the violence (such as war) or allow the violence to have happened with no penalties to the people involved (example, when police officers are not arrested in the killing of a person in their custody).
Examples of institutional violence can be:
- Systemic violence includes acts of violence against racialized people
- Systemic violence includes failed system responses that result in harm to racialized people
- Colonization against Indigenous people and communities which includes sexual violence
The impacts of systemic discrimination can affect how a community feels about, fears, resists, or interact with institutions and systems, including police. Solutions must acknowledge the impact of the past, as well as ongoing impacts that are happening right here and now.
(Examples taken from the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, 2020)
2. Who are the most at risk for sexual violence?
The people who experience the highest levels of violence in Canada or who are most likely to experience violence are Indigenous women and girls, Black women and girls, Non-binary and Trans people, young women under 25 years old, people living with disabilities and Older women.
3. What is the reason behind kit only being made available in limited ED hospitals?
The reason why the sexual assault evidence kit is only available to a limited number of hospitals is because of training of nurses to administer the kit. We need more sensitive and well-trained health care practitioners to administer the kit so survivors do not have to wait if they want to do one after they have been sexually assaulted.
4. We would like to know about the function of Rape kits and how they work for or against the victims.
Sadly sexual assault evidence kits are for the purposes of having evidence should a survivor go to the police and should the police want to file a sexual assault charge. It’s important to note that these kits are only used as evidence in the prosecution for the case. They do not prevent sexual assault nor do they guarantee a person to be convicted of sexual assault even if they are used in court as evidence.
Sexual assault evidence kits take time and can only be administered in certain hospitals like Women’s College.
5. If a victim decides after going through the Rape Kit procedure that they wish not to charge in that moment what happens to the evidence? Is it stored in the event that they change their minds or is the kit destroyed?
The kit is stored for 6 months. After then, it is destroyed by the hospital.
6. What is the best way to support someone who has been assaulted and they have decided not to get a kit and involve the police?
Listen to them. Believe them. Take their direction and ask them for consent at every step of the way. Sometimes survivors want to ‘do something’. Sometimes they just want to be believed and not judged. Support survivors by creating an environment of care.
7. Has there been more calls during the pandemic and if so, do you have an opinion as to why might this be?
There have been reported increases in domestic violence and gender-based violence during the pandemic. There have been slight increases of calls to our line but that is a challenging one because survivors, if living with abusers, will not have as much privacy to make the call.
There is a lot of stress that has been exacerbated by social isolation and the pandemic including death, job loss and grief. People who were already using violence as a means for power and control are using it more often in the stressful situation of the pandemic.
8. What can a victim expect when they call the Center. Can you tells us the steps taken during a crisis call?
When a person calls the crisis line they dial (416) 597.8808 and the answering service picks up. The operator ask for the name and number of the person and a crisis line counsellor will call them back. A crisis counsellor will listen, ask what support they need, and provide referrals if the caller asks for that.
If we all listened to survivors, believed them, suspended all judgments around their experience, we would no longer need the crisis line.
Let’s listen to survivors, believe them and take their leadership when sexual assault happens.
Counsellor and Activist
Toronto Rape Crisis Centre
Multicultural Women Against Rape
The TRCC|MWAR stands with and supports Black survivors and our Black community members. Gendered violence doesn't happen in a vacuum. Rape culture is inherently tied to white supremacist settler colonialism, which contributes to Black Canadians facing higher rates of violence.
Links to interview:
I know I am not the only one who has had a lifelong struggle with feeling comfortable in their skin. I know some of us can remember the exact moment when the world shifted from blissful ignorance to crippling insecurities. At least I can.