Letter Writing Campaign to Support Sexual Assault Survivor

Sexual assault is, sadly, something that far too many women and men face. Halton Women’s Place, a Halton women’s shelter that our faculty has supported over the past few years, indicates that 1 in 3 women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime, and 1 in 6 men. But, these numbers don’t represent the wealth of cases that go unreported!

As staff and faculty of Sheridan College we strive to make our campus safe for all students. Acknowledging that sexual assault is in no way the fault of the victim is an important and sometimes overlooked aspect of creating safe spaces, and in facilitating a victim’s recovery. This was brought home to faculty member Nicolette Little as she read the accounts of various people standing up for the rapist rather than the victim, in the recent Steubenville Rape Case.

Nicolette is encouraging all of us to add our voices in support of the victim through a note-writing campaign. Please view a recent article on this initiative that came out in May’s The Oakville Beaver for more information, as well as the following letter–calling for community members to take a stand in support of the Steubenville victim, as well as all victims of sexual assault and violence.

Hi friends, family and colleagues:

You have probably heard of the Steubenville Rape Case, where a number of football players, and others, sexually assaulted a girl who was passed out at a party. The assault, which was filmed by onlookers, was posted online, and soon went viral.

Nicolette Little, taken by Nikki Wesley from the Oakville Beaver

Nicolette Little, taken by Nikki Wesley from the Oakville Beaver

In the aftermath of the assault and the media blitz that followed, many people (including reporters) appeared more concerned about the “promising futures” of the athletically-inlined rapists than the victim (who has been handed a fair amount of criticism since). There was innuendo that it was the victim’s fault for having gotten so drunk…

Situations like the Steubenville case have also recently taken place around Canada. Recently, Rehtaeh Parsons (Nova Scotia) committed suicide after images of her being sexually assaulted at a party went viral and she become the target of her peers’ criticism. Of course, the case of Amanda Todd is also well known… The difference is that the Steubenville victim is still alive, while Parsons and Todd could not live through their experiences.

I recently contacted the Steubenville police department, and through them, the victim’s attorney, in West Virginia. Her attorney, Robert Fitzsimmons, is accepting letters of support, on behalf of the victim, and will forward them to her and her family. 

I was happy to hear that many people have already written in support of this young woman…

I’ve decided to write a note of support for this unnamed victim, and send it along. I thought it would be great, however, if there were other people interested in writing such notes. If so, we could send a package of sorts–showing how much we, as Canadians, care about her ordeal, and honour her for her strength in the face of very hard experiences.

I have spoken with the Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services of Halton (SAVIS), and the Executive Director has kindly offered to circulate this initiative on to the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC) and the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres (CASAC). Further letters of support will come from these groups, which is great.

If you’d like to show some support for the Steubenville rape victim, please email your short note–in the body of the email, with your name, town (or whatever identifying information you feel comfortable including) included at the end–to sheneedsourhelp@gmail.com. I will copy and paste these into a massive word document, then print, and send to the noted, and helpful, attorney. 

If you would like to forward this message on to others, I’m happy to include as many messages as possible in my package. 

Perhaps we can offer non-judging support–a key ingredient in true assault recovery–to the Steubenville victim, as well as make a positive dent in a culture that still doesn’t always hit the mark of truly progressive thought when it comes to women’s rights in assault and rape cases.

Here are some (among a plethora!) recent articles on the Steubenville and Parsons cases:

http://healthland.time.com/2013/03/20/what-about-the-victim-the-steubenville-rape-victims-recovery/

http://deadspin.com/5972005/occupy-steubenville-gathers-to-support-rape-victim-call-for-coachs-job

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/canada/9991536/Rehtaeh-Parsons-Canadian-police-re-open-case-into-rape-of-suicide-teen.html

Please feel free to get in touch with questions, and hope to hear from you,

Nicolette

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *