The Collision of the Personal and the Professional


Someone once told me that at some point our personal and professional lives are bound to collide. I chose to believe that it is possible – although often times difficult – to keep the two separated. My personal and professional lives collided recently, and I am forever changed.

Last Sunday evening I was talking with a person that I have long considered a close friend. I endured the displeasure of listening to him speak words that enraged me and caused feelings of physical illness with the hope that I might be able shift his thinking. However, the impossibility of sparking any change became evident when he made statements that revealed the distance that exists between our core values.

Here is some of what he said:

  • Children are sexually abused because of flaws in their characters that are targeted by sexual predators
  • Children are sexually abused because they are not strong, grounded individuals
  • Children are sexually abused because they come from families that are not strong or stable and the parents of these children are ultimately responsible for the abuse
  • Children must bear a share of the responsibility when they are sexually abused, and that responsibility is increased when they choose not to disclose the abuse immediately
  • Studies need to be conducted to determine the “type” of child that becomes a victim of sexual abuse

The shock of these words coming from someone I held as a friend has still not worn off. No matter how much evidence I offered to counter his arguments he continued to assert his beliefs – his very dangerous beliefs. He shamelessly minimized the criminal responsibility of anyone who harms a child. As a parent, he refused to recognize the fact that any child – according to reported statistics 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 3 girls by the time they are 18 years old – could become a victim of sexual violence. Moreover, he displayed the weakness of his character when he repeatedly stated that the most vulnerable in our society should be held responsible when they are sexually abused.

Children are sexually abused because they are vulnerable. The people children trust and love abuse them. People in positions of trust, power, and authority abuse children. Family members abuse children. Family friends abuse children. Strangers abuse children. The trauma of sexual abuse has lifelong effects and sexually abused children are NEVER responsible for the abuse.

I know this because I am a sexual abuse survivor.

The person I had this conversation with did not know that I am a survivor because it is not information I often disclose in my personal life. In my personal life, I talk around the edges of sexual abuse. This collision between my personal and professional lives has made me realize that hiding behind my work while shrouding my personal life in secrecy are no longer options. I cannot truly advocate on behalf of survivors of sexual violence if I cannot be truthful about who I am in all areas of my life because I choose to do this work because I am survivor. Unfortunately, as this experience shows, a part of this work is trying to eliminate the misinformation and myths that exist about sexual abuse and sexual abuse survivors.

Because of this person’s beliefs I can no longer maintain our friendship, but I am walking away with renewed purpose and the knowledge that I am stronger without it.

T. Bennett
Founder,
Survivors Guide

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Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

The Agonizing Last Words of Programmer Bill Zeller


I have read this letter and I understand it in a way that chills me to the marrow of my bones.

Bill Zeller

Bill Zeller’s last wish was to have his final words shared with as many people as possible, and as survivors of sexual abuse, we believe this wish must be fulfilled.

People everywhere need to understand the extent to which sexual abuse harms an individual. They need to understand how the lack of societal recognition about the heinous nature of this crime causes survivors to retreat from society and human contact in a way that makes the victim appear to be the source of dysfunction. They need to understand how the fear of lack of support from family, friends, and trained professionals in the aftermath of disclosure drives survivors away and buries them in inescapable darkness. People need to understand that survivors of sexual abuse live with the effects throughout every minute of every day of their lives and there is no miracle or epiphany that will make what happened instantly “go away”.

Bill Zeller did what survivors of sexual abuse do every day: keep a secret.

We hope that sharing this secret in the wake of his death will create a powerful ripple of awareness in the world about the darkness that can exist for survivors of sexual abuse.

Read the letter: The Agonizing Last Words of Programmer Bill Zeller

Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

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The Canadian Government Needs to Do More about Sexual Offenders


How does a convicted sex offender obtain a pardon and then bail when he faces additional charges for sexual offences?

This is a clear example of why the Canadian government needs to do more about sexual abuse and to protect the victims of sexual offenders.

In an interview with the Toronto Star on December 8, 2010, Theo Fleury, a survivor of sexual abuse who is pursuing charges against his offender Graham James, urged Canadians to contact their local Member of Parliament. He believes “the decision to grant Graham James bail . . . means those who have suffered in silence will not feel confident about stepping up and voicing their concerns”. Fleury further stated, “We absolutely must do something about this for the future of our children. I encourage you to contact your Member of Parliament and complain.”

However, this call to action does not stem solely from previously convicted sex offender Graham James being granted bail in December 2010. The National Parole Board granted James a pardon in January 2007 after he pleaded guilty in 1997 to sexually assaulting two young men on 350 separate occasions and serving a 3 1/2-year prison sentence. According to CBC News, “a National Parole Board pardon effectively seals a criminal record except under certain, narrow circumstances, such as if a person convicted of a sexual offence applies to work with children”, and in James’ case the pardon allowed him to leave Canada to start a new life first in Spain and then in Mexico.

This raises questions about how effective Canadian laws are at protecting victims of sexual abuse. The only people who can answer these questions are our local Members of Parliament.

If you do not know your elected Member of Parliament this link will provide you with a complete list of the Canadian House of Commons Members: http://bit.ly/1bjGA

You may also contact the government at:

Toll-free (Canada): 1 (866) 599-4999
Telephone: 1 (613) 992-4793
TTY: 1 (613) 995-2266
Email: info@parl.gc.ca
Mail: Information Service, Parliament of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A9.

 

Let the Canadian government know that they need to do more about sexual offenders.

Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

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Victim Services Directory


The Victim Services Directory has been created by the Policy Centre for Victim Issues of the Department of Justice Canada to:

  • help service providers, victims and individuals locate services for victims of crime across Canada;
  • allow victims to determine which services they may require;
  • to link organizations and victims; and
  • to help all individuals access victim services.

Agency information for this Directory has been compiled through the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Victim Services Survey and includes Agencies in all provinces and territories across the country.

Using the Victim Services Directory you may complete a targeted search for agencies that deliver services to survivors of sexual assault and sexual abuse in a specific city and/or municipality. The search involves three (3) steps:

  • Step 1: Select Province / Territory
  • Step 2: Select cities/municipalities
  • Step 3: Select at least one “Type of Victimization” or “Type of Service Provided”

Services for survivors of sexual assault and sexual abuse may be found by searching under the following “Type of Victimization” categories listed in the directory:

  • Adult Survivor of Child/Youth Sexual Abuse
  • Child/Youth Sexual Assault – Child /Youth Victim
  • Child/Youth Victim of Sexual Exploitation
  • Families of Sexually Abused Children
  • Sexual Assault – Adult – Female Victims
  • Sexual Assault – Adult – Male Victims

You may also search for services under the following “Type of Service Provided” categories listed in the directory:

  • Advocacy
  • Compensation
  • Counseling
  • Court Accompaniment
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Crisis/Distress Line
  • Emotional Support
  • General Information
  • Hospital Accompaniment
  • Safety Planning/Risk Assessment
  • Self-Help Support Groups
  • Services Offered in Other Languages
  • Services Specific to Aboriginal Peoples
  • Services Specific to Children Youth
  • Services Specific to Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Men
  • Services Specific to Lesbian/ Bisexual/Transgender Women
  • Services Specific to Members of a Visible Minority
  • Services Specific to Persons with a Disability
  • Services Specific to Senior Persons
  • Shelters/Housing/Transition Homes
  • Victim Impact Statement (assistance in preparation)
  • Victim Notification
  • Victim/Witness Preparation

We hope that the Victim Services Directory will help you to find an agency in your area that will deliver the services to address your specific needs.

If you are having difficulty accessing the site using the highlighted/coloured text links in this post, please copy and paste the following URL from the Policy Centre for Victim Issues – Department of Justice into your browser’s address location bar:

Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

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An Overview of Victim Services Across Canada


* * UPDATE: THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CANADA HAS DEACTIVATED THIS VISUAL TOOL **

The government of each province and territory across Canada offers a range of services to individuals who have been victimized by crime.

Click on the picture below to learn what services may be available to you and other survivors in your region. On the map that appears click on the province or territory where you live to review the list of services provided by the government:

An Overview of Victim Services Across Canada - Services by Province/Territory

An Overview of Victim Services Across Canada - Services by Province/Territory

If you are having difficulty accessing the site, please copy and paste the following URL from the Policy Centre for Victim Issues – Department of Justice into your browser’s address location bar:

Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

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Filing a Police Report


You have made the choice to file a report about the sexual assault or sexual abuse you have experienced.

Going forward here is some information that we believe will be helpful as you face what may be a difficult experience, especially if you have never been inside of a police station or had any previous contact with the police.

First, and most important, you have the right to be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for your personal dignity and privacy1 by any and all of the individuals you interact with while filing your report.

Second, you have the right to request that the interviewing police officers and any other officials present are of the same gender2 as you (female or male), so that you feel comfortable while filing your report.

Third, your interview with the police will be recorded in three (3) ways: written notes, audio recording and video recording. Do not be intimidated by this process. The audio and video recordings are necessary to have a living account of what happened to you. These recordings may be used as evidence at a later date. At the end of your interview you may be asked to confirm your account of the incident(s) by signing a copy of the statement you have made.

If you are reporting a case of historical sexual assault or long-term sexual abuse, it is important to know that you may be asked why you waited to file a report. Do not be discouraged by this question. Remember that there is no statute of limitations for reporting a sexual assault or sexual abuse in Canada. You are filing your report now because it is the right time for you do so.

Also, if you are asked by the interviewing officer(s) to provide corroboration of this crime, it is important to know that under the Criminal Code of Canada you are not required to provide corroboration. Where an accused is charged with an offence of sexual assault or sexual abuse no corroboration is required for a conviction3.

Fourth, at the end of the interview request the case number for your records. You should also request the names and badge identification numbers of the interviewing officers. This information will be on their business cards. You will need all of this information when you make follow up inquiries about the progress of your case because you have the right to have access to information about the progress of criminal investigations4.

Finally, before you leave the police station request information for support services because you have the right to have access to information concerning services and remedies available to victims5. These services may be available through Victim Services or other agencies within your community. These agencies will either provide you with or help you to locate the emotional and psychological support services you may need as you move forward.

Below you will find the reference notes for the information that has been tagged in this posting.

References:

Points 1,2,4,5 are taken from principles in the Victims’ Bill of Right. They are principles (1),(4),(3) and (2) respectively.

http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/ovss/rights.asp

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_95v06_e.htm

Point 3 is taken from the Criminal Code of Canada which states:

Corroboration not required under the Criminal Code of Canada 274. Where an accused is charged with an offence under section 151, 152, 153, 155, 159, 160, 170, 171, 172, 173, 212, 271, 272 or 273, no corroboration is required for a conviction and the judge shall not instruct the jury that it is unsafe to find the accused guilty in the absence of corroboration.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 274; R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 11.

The following Criminal Code offences may apply in sexual abuse situations:

  • Sexual assault (section 271)
  • Sexual assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (section 272)
  • Aggravated sexual assault (section 273)
  • Incest (section 155)

Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide


What Now?


You or someone close to you has survived a sexual assault or long-term sexual abuse.

What now?

If you live in Canada, the most important thing for you to know is that there is no statute of limitations for reporting a sexual assault or sexual abuse. In more precise terms, there is no maximum period of time, after the event, that legal proceedings based on those events may be initiated.

So, if you were sexually assaulted or sexually abused 1 hour ago or 20 years ago you still have the right, within the Canadian criminal justice system, to file a report about the incident(s); and to have the person who assaulted or abused you brought to justice.

You can file a report at your local police station.

When you take the step to file a report you need to prepare yourself emotionally and psychologically for what is about to unfold:

  • Ask your family and close friends to support the choice you have made to file a report
  • If you have a family doctor that you trust, speak to her/him about what has happened to you. Ask for a referral to a counselor or therapist that can provide you with the necessary support services, which may involve individual or group therapy
  • If you do not have a family doctor visit a local medical clinic in your community to get a referral for support services
  • Contact a rape crisis centre or hotline in your area
  • Ask your local police to put you in touch with the Victim Services representative for your area

Survivors Guide will provide you with links to agencies and services that may be able to assist you with making your choices, and we welcome suggestions from other survivors.

Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

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