On behalf of the Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity, we would like to officially announce that we are united in solidarity with the #WeBelieveSurvivors (#IBelieverSurvivors) movement, recent marches and calls to actions.
We believe that our communities, provinces, territories and nation needs to change how we support and address incidences of violence against women. This includes:
We stand in solidarity & partnership with sister service providers; and we pledge to continuing to ALWAYS stand with survivors.
If you are looking for support, please go to:
We would also like to share with you a speech given by our staff person Holly, at the recent #WeBelieveSurvivors Rally in Ottawa.
Should you have any questions, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Holly Smith and I’m speaking on behalf of both the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, and Purple Sisters Youth Advisory Committee at the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa. I want to thank you all for coming this evening to demonstrate that we believe survivors. I truly believe that if Canadians from coast to coast refuse to stay silent, and hold protests like this across the country, we will see change.
I need to give a trigger warning for mentions of rape and violence against women. There are identified support people here tonight if you need to talk.
We want to recognize that violence against women is a complex, intersectional issue that disproportionately affects queer and trans women, sex workers, and women of colour, particularly Black and Indigenous women in Canada. When I think of my friends, almost all of whom are LGBTQ+ identified, it breaks my heart to realize that almost all of them have also had an experience of rape, abuse, or assault. Myself, and many others, chose not to report our experiences for fear of being disbelieved.
My partner is not here tonight but wants me to share her story. Before I knew her, she was assaulted violently in the bathroom of a bar, by a stranger whose face she never saw. She chose not to report it to the police, and she chose not to go to the hospital for a rape kit.
In her own words, she was so traumatized that her memory wasn’t clear, she was afraid of being touched, she was afraid that she would not be able to give a clear, detailed statement of what happened. The people around her at the time encouraged her to report it, but ultimately, we have to support the choices that survivors make. Our police and legal systems are built to silence survivors, so I understand why many of us do not go to them for help.
I demand a world where whether one woman or several women come forward and name the same rapist, they are believed.
When their statements are dismissed and the accused is cleared of all charges, it contributes to a world where: survivors are forced to stay silent about their experience, while their rapists and abusers, and other potential ones, are validated that they can and will continue to get away with their violence.
This is something I have seen in my own community.
The system is built to make us feel alone and isolated. We have to move forward by finding ways to heal, support each other, and build a community.
We can create change by volunteering for and donating to organizations who are working to prevent violence against women and support survivors. We can create change by educating men to respect women and their consent. We can create change by demanding reform in the way our police and court systems process and investigate sexual assault cases. We can create change by refusing to shut up until justice is served, and by standing together to show that WE BELIEVE SURVIVORS.