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

∞∞∞∞∞∞

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

Survivors Guide

Advertisements

Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan


On March 2, 2011, the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, Laurel Broten, announced Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan as a “commitment to protect women from all forms of sexual violence”.

The plan focuses on three areas:

  • Raising public awareness to prevent sexual violence
  • Expanding and improving services for victims of sexual violence
  • Strengthening the criminal justice response toward sexual violence

You can read more details about the plan on the Ontario Women’s Directorate website:

Changing Attitudes, Changing Lives: Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan (Eng)
Changer les attitudes, changer les vies: Plan D’action De L’ontario Contre La Violence À Caractère Sexuel (Fr)

If you have questions or concerns about the plan, contact the office of Minister Broten:

Phone: 416-212-7432
Email: laurel.broten@ontario.ca
Mail: Hon. Laurel Broten, Minister’s Office – Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, 14th Floor, 56 Wellesley Street West, Toronto ON M5S2S3

 

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

Survivors Guide

 

Navigator: When You Can’t Afford to Lose


What does it mean when a public relations firm accepts the task of sanitizing the image of two accused rapists?

Today, the Toronto Star reported that two Toronto doctors have hired public relations firm Navigator Ltd. “to massage the message” in the wake of being charged with gang sexual assault and administering a noxious substance. The men, Amitabh Chauhan and Suganthan Kayilasanathan, were arrested on February 18, 2011 for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman in a downtown Toronto hotel. They were granted bail yesterday after spending four days in Toronto’s Don Jail.

According to the company’s web site, Navigator Ltd. is the public relations firm to hire “When You Can’t Afford to Lose™” because they embrace a “winner takes all” approach when doing business. The site further states, “Our clients’ challenges are always unique, but they share one constant: the need to win in the court of public opinion.”

Chauhan and Kayilasanathan need to win. To that end, Navigator has wasted no time launching a campaign for these clients. To challenge what they characterize as “uninformed views and damaging opinion”, they arranged for the two men to give statements to the press outside the courthouse immediately after their release. The goal of this public relations campaign is to “sway perception” that may damage reputations in the case against Chauhan and Kayilasanathan.

This campaign has already swayed our perception; not away from the probable guilt of the accused men but toward a great repugnance for the firm representing them. As this case unfolds, we will be watching to see how an organization that boasts about corporate citizenship and charitable work further contributes to our community.

Update: On June 14, 2011, new sexual assault charges were filed against Amitabh Chauhan. According to a Toronto Police statement, 33-year-old Chauhan “has been charged with sexual assault and administering a drug for sex” and the alleged victim is a 21-year-old woman who “met up with a man in Kingston in the fall of 2003. Police allege the man put an unknown substance into the woman’s drink and then sexually assaulted her”.

Police say it’s believed there are other victims.

We could not locate any statements about these new charges from Navigator Ltd.

 

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

Survivors Guide

*

An Open Letter to Amazon.com


Dear Amazon.com,

You have lost customers…permanently.

When it was brought to light yesterday that you were selling “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct”, through your site we were stunned. It is incredulous that no one on your staff thought that this listing would be offensive, not to mention that what this “instruction manual” is teaching is criminal.

You defended the sale of this book in a statement that read, “Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.”

This is not a free speech issue and this book is promoting criminal acts.

As survivors of sexual abuse, we find it abhorrent that the author was able to use your services to disseminate material about how to avoid detection while committing crimes against children. Pedophilia is not a “love” of children as the author states, but an exercise of power over the most vulnerable individuals within our society. In his description of the book, the author states, “penetration is out. You can’t do that with a child, but kissing and fondling I don’t think is that big of a problem”. He is wrong. Any sexual acts between an adult and a child are a problem, and survivors of sexual abuse are living proof that the harm is immeasurable.

You removed the book from your listings, but not before it hit your Top 100 Bestsellers list. Unfortunately, you cannot remove from our memories your unwillingness to do what was necessary to protect children everywhere. For that, we bid you good-bye.

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

Survivors Guide

*

Victims Matter


The Government of Canada has launched a streamlined site for victims of crime. The Victims Matter site states: “The government of Canada is taking action for victims of crime, so can you”.

Victims of sexual assault/sexual abuse can find information under the
“Is This Your Situation?” section by clicking on the link for
Victims of Violent Crime. In this section, to get help victims of sexual assault/sexual abuse are directed to:

  • call 911 in an emergency
  • contact your local police service if you wish to file a report
  • contact victim services whether or not they have reported the crime to police
  • click a link to the Victim Services Directory to locate services in your local area
  • click a link to learn more about victim services provided by provincial and territorial governments
  • click a link to the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, which is a non-governmental organization

You can contact the Government of Canada to request information or to provide your feedback about the site.

Toll-free Number: Call 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232) for help to find information and services.
TTY: 1-800-926-9105
Email: webadmin@justice.gc.ca
Mail: Department of Justice Canada, 284 Wellington Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8

 

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

Survivors Guide

*