A Community of Support for Communities across Canada
A partner project of the US Making a Difference Project, The Making a Difference Canada initiative is spearheaded by multi-disciplinary teams in seven Canadian communities. The mission of the teams is to collaboratively challenge the status quo of the Canadian legal system as it relates to sexual assaults.
All teams include, but are not limited to, advocacy and support workers, police investigators, forensic medical practitioners, and prosecutors. Based on the needs of the community, some include public educators, victim services providers, and survivors. Others include crisis counselors, academics, researchers, crime analysts, immigrant associations, government representatives, medical personnel and relationship violence specialists.
Participating communities are Calgary and Edmonton, AB; Victoria, BC; Halifax-Antigonish Region, NS; Niagara Region, ON; Charlottetown, PEI and Whitehorse YK.
Following is a quick overview of the different teams and the role they play in making a difference in the lives of survivors, families and communities.
ADVOCACY AND SUPPORT:
These groups provide survivors, families and communities the tools they need to understand and deal with the realities of sexual assault. Community education and training, crisis intervention, referral services and counseling are just a few of the many vital services. Diverse outreach, advocacy and legal support programs are reinforced by a broad range of vital services—from having someone accompany survivors of assault to the hospital, medical facility or police station to providing assistance with reporting, and court preparation and court accompaniment.
The police investigate reported sexual assaults. In some jurisdictions front line officers hold responsibility for the entire investigation. In others, those responsibilities are shared by patrol officers and specialized units. Whatever the specific roles, these professionals and their enforcement teams are on the front line of protecting and serving victims of assault.
FORENSIC MEDICAL PRACTICIONERS:
These highly skilled professionals conduct physical exams to ensure the victim's health needs are addressed. During the examination, they will also gather physical evidence for presentation in court. In some jurisdictions victims can choose to have the evidence that's collected held for a specified period of time without reporting the occurrence to police immediately. In other jurisdictions, a report is required before evidence collection can be authorized.
The police investigate allegations of criminal conduct. Crown Prosecutors are available to offer advice to police during the course of their investigation but cannot control or direct the investigation.
Once the police investigation is complete, if appropriate, the police can lay an information charging an offence. Once the information is laid, the Crown Prosecutor will determine if the charge is to proceed, whether it will proceed as an indictable or summary conviction offence, the witnesses required to be summoned before the court at the trial or preliminary inquiry and, if the accused has not been released, whether a show cause hearing should be held. If a conviction results from the prosecution, the Crown Prosecutor will make representation as to the appropriate sentence to be imposed.
MYTH 1: Most rapes are committed by strangers.
FACT: More often than not, sexual assault is perpetrated by a family member, relative, friend or acquaintance. In fact, in 64% of reported cases the victim knew the accused.
MYTH 2: People sometimes say "no", whey they really mean "yes".
FACT: No means NO, regardless of the circumstance. Also, if someone says "yes" under duress it is not consent—consent must be given voluntarily.
MYTH 3: Men can't be raped.
FACT: Many men don't report their sexual assault, so statistics are limited. However, of the assaults that are reported, approximately 15.7% of them involve male victims.
MYTH 4: She must have somehow "asked for it."
FACT: This is often how the attacker justifies his behavior. What ‘type of woman' she is, what her occupation is, or how a woman dresses or acts, are irrelevant. No one asks to be raped.
MYTH 5: Women who feel guilty or vindictive often lie about being raped.
FACT: Rarely are false reports of sexual assault made. The truth is, sexual assault is a greatly under-reported crime, especially if the survivor knows her (or his) attacker.
MYTH 6: Certain types of women are "unrapeable."
FACT: Regardless of a woman's profession or sexual practices, she can still be sexually assaulted. If consent isn't given willingly it is rape. Rape is not about the sex, it is an act of dominance and control.
MYTH 7: Women can't be assaulted by husbands or boyfriends.
FACT: According to the law, a woman has the right to say no to her significant other. Again, it's about willing consent. If it's not given, it's sexual assault.
MYTH 8: Carrying some form of protection can prevent sexual assault.
FACT: Maybe. Maybe not. But telling someone that carrying mace or keys between their fingers, etc could prevent an attack only adds to a survivor's sense of guilt and self-blame.
MYTH 9: Rape is a crime of passion.
FACT: In over 70% of the cases, rape is a premeditated act of VIOLENCE, and has nothing to do with passion. The vast majority of rapists are motivated by power, anger, and control, not sexual gratification.
MYTH 10: People who are intoxicated or on drugs are willing to participate in any kind of sexual activity.
FACT: Drinking or taking drugs does not imply consent. In fact, alcohol and drugs can render a person incapable of consent—and no consent equals assault.