Victims of Crime Awareness Week - April 19-25, 2015: Ask The Right Questions
Victims of Crime Awareness Week - April 19-25, 2015: Ask The Right Questions
Its National Victims of Crime Awareness Week in Canada and other countries around the world people are observing this important time to emphasize issues and supports for the empowerment of victims.

This year, Violence Prevention Labrador is hosting the "Ask the Right Questions" campaign. Through social media, the campaign is appealing to everyone (Individuals, Community, Media, Justice and Support Services) to examine our attitudes and behaviour toward victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

We understand that questions often asked of victims are, whether people realize it or not, focused on the behaviour of the victim and how they are somehow responsible for the violence perpetrated upon them... not on the perpetrator and their behaviour or how we as a society can help.

We encourage everyone to become part of the change that moves away from victim-blaming toward more supportive and helpful questions that examine why violence is perpetrated in an effort to help end it. Lets focus on how we can help victims of sexual and domestic violence through the journey to being a survivor.

POST, TWEET and TALK! about how we can all help victims.
Why Does She/He Stay?
A common question people ask is "Why does she stay? Why doesn't she just leave the relationship?". Research shows that separation can be a particularly dangerous time for women. It is important to understand many barriers exist for a woman thinking of leaving a violent relationship. Perhaps instead of asking "Why does she stay?" we should be asking "Why is he violent?".

Lesbian and gay couples are as intertwined and involved in each others' lives as are heterosexual couples. Due to the lack of societal support many lesbians & gay men are more "protective" of the relationship and less likely to leave despite the abuse. Leaving is often the hardest thing for a victim to accomplish—harder for instance than staying. Batterers threaten their victims with more violence (including threats of murder) if they leave. Threatening to leave may put the victim in more danger. Leaving also requires strength, self-confidence, self-reliance, and a healthy self esteem. Those qualities have been eroded by the abuse. Leaving a violent partner also mean leaving one's home, friends, children and community. A lesbian or gay man may be extremely isolated. Because there are no programs specific to helping LGBT DV victims it may be easier to stay in the abusive relationship.

Learn more about barriers for women leaving intimate partner violence here.

Learn more about myths and facts for LGBT intimate partner violence here or through the RCMP online resources.
Why Does She/He Keep Going Back?
When we hold victims partially or completely responsible for the violence done to them, we are victim- blaming. These actions, verbal or non-verbal, may influence the decisions that survivors make to keep themselves and/or their families safe.

Respect her decisions. If she is not ready at this point to make major changes in her life, do not take away your friendship and support. Your support and advice may be what will make it possible for her to act at a later date.

Learn more about what you can do to support an individual leaving intimate partner violence.
What did She/He Do To Provoke It?
People may blame the victim for what has happened as a way of understanding why bad things happen to people. If something bad happens to a woman she must have done something to deserve it. It is a way of distancing oneself from an unpleasant occurrence and thereby confirming one's own invulnerability. Or it can be a way of putting distance, or a wall, between you and the survivor. It happened to them because of something they did/didn't do which doesn't apply to you so you are safe. "I am not like her; this would never happen to me."

Violence and abuse are best understood as a pattern of behaviour intended to establish power and maintain control over family, household members, intimate partners, colleagues or groups. The roots of all forms of violence and abuse are founded in the many types of inequality which continue to exist and grow in our society.

Violence and abuse may occur only once, it can involve various tactics of subtle manipulation or it may occur frequently while escalating over a period of months or years. In any form, violence and abuse profoundly affect individual health and well-being.

Learn more about how to help someone who is Violent.
Why Does She Allow Herself To Be Treated That Way?
Abuse is any threat, act or physical force that is used to create fear, control or intimidate. Abuse is about maintained power and control. An abuser may choose to use intimidation, isolation, humiliation, blame or physical violence to make you go along with everything he says and does. Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser's loss of control over his behaviour. In fact, abusive behaviour and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you.

Additional information on abuse and victim support available from the Battered Women's Support Services
Why Was She There?
Sex without consent is sexual assault.

Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser's loss of control over his behaviour. In fact, abusive behaviour and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you.

No one has the right to have sex with someone against their will. The blame for a rape lies solely with the rapist.

Check out Edmonton's Violence Stops Here and SAVE webpages for additional information.
Why Was She Dressed Like That?
Rape is about power, not sex. A rapist uses actual force or violence — or the threat of it — to take control over another human being. Some rapists use drugs to take away a person's ability to fight back. Rape is a crime, whether the person committing it is a stranger, a date, an acquaintance, or a family member.

No matter how it happened, rape is frightening and traumatizing. People who have been raped need care, comfort, and a way to heal. Sometimes a rapist will try to exert even more power by making the person who's been raped feel like it was actually his or her fault. A rapist may say stuff like, "You asked for it" or "You wanted it." This is just another way for the rapist to take control. The truth is that what a person wears, what a person says, or how a person acts is never a justification for rape.

Check out the Battered Women's Support Services' Information on Abuse.
Why Did She Get So Drunk?
Studies involving 18-25 year old men revealed that 48 per cent of the men did not consider it rape if a woman is too drunk to know what is going on. Typically, sexual assault awareness campaigns target potential victims/women by urging women to restrict their behaviour. Targeting the behaviour of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to how much the offender and the larger public (including law enforcement and justice system) blame women after the assault.

"Just because she is drinking doesn't mean she want sex."

"Just because she isn't saying no... doesn't mean she's saying yes."

Check out the full "Don't be that Guy" Campaign for additional information.
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