CASE officially launched our Zombie Sex Tips Halloween campaign last Monday, October 20, 2014. This concept is original and was created and designed by the CASE team. In addition to having three of these posters throughout Mac Hall, we have a display up Clubs House glass case until Halloween weekend. We will also have information booths in Mac Hall, ICT and Residence on the 30th and 31st. Additionally, we will have street teams handing out goody bags with candy, condoms and bookmarks with information about consent.
We want to start a conversation about why people find it so necessary to use alcohol when pursuing sexual relationships. We recognize that our society is not comfortable talking about sex in a healthy way in general, creating barriers between and among partners in discussing what they want and their boundaries. We want to empower people to talk about their sexual relationships without such a heavy focus on alcohol to facilitate the dialogue.
When people rely on alcohol to facilitate sexual encounters, there is an increased chance of committing sexual assault because, legally, someone cannot consent to sex when they are intoxicated. Additionally, alcohol is classified as a drug and is thus a prevalent date rape drug. In our media we see many narratives where people think it's acceptable to try to get someone drunk enough to "hook up." We want students to realize these narrative are incredibly unhealthy. When you use alcohol to impair someone's judgement and coerce them into sexual activity, it is sexual assault.
Our goal is to empower students to critically think about this issue, start conversations with each other about alcohol and sex, and promote healthy relationships and sexuality.
After CASE attended the Outrun the Stigma event put on by the Distress Centre on Campus Club and the Mental Health Awareness Club, one of our members was inspired to speak out about how eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health can support survivors of sexual assault.
We believe this is an important perspective that emphasizes the importance of eradication not only stigma surrounding mental health, but victim blaming language that invalidates the concerns and experiences of survivors. We also would like to thank the two previously mentioned clubs for putting on such an empowering event on campus.
The post begins below the photo gallery.
Trigger warning: sexual assault.
Mental Health & Sexual Assault: Eradicating the Stigma
submitted to CASE anonymously
The horrors of being sexually assaulted do not dissipate when foreign police officer shuts the file on your case and you fly back home across two continents. Since being assaulted thousands of miles away from home last year, the state of my mental health has been in complete disarray. In a society that pushes us to work harder, be more efficient, and sacrifice our own well-being in the name of “having it all,” self-care very often falls off the priority list. It was a shock to the system, being expected to return to campus as a full-time university student, under the pressure of performing well and balancing a fulfilling student life platter full of extra-curricular activities and a part-time job.
I thought it would be easy to go back to normal - do the readings, go to class, write the papers. I made it two days into the semester before the first time I erupted into tears on campus. You can’t put a “trigger warning” on history lectures recounting centuries of violence, or on walking down the street where a passerby might catcall you, or on a conversation with friends where sexist jokes are made and celebrated. Whatever that trigger may be, we live in a world that excuses perpetrators of sexual assault. My eyes have been opened to the nuanced normalization of sexual violence and I can’t look away. Recently, I have discovered “vicarious traumatization,” meaning that through my advocacy work in preventing sexual assault and hearing other survivors’ stories, my own symptoms of trauma have intensified. The triggers are everywhere - the strain of constantly hearing invalidating comments about my experience has added another layer of stress and frustration, making it difficult to even go to class or see friends.
Self-care and trying to take care of our mental health is falsely associated with “weakness” or “fragility”. There is a paralyzing stigma against reaching out for counselling or therapy. When I need to leave work early to go to counselling, I still find myself hiding the truth of where I am going and I avoid mentioning it out of the fear of awkward comments or unsupportive feedback. Even with my counsellor’s support, it is a constant battle for the reassuring and validating thoughts to prevail in a world that is telling you otherwise – telling you to get over it and “just smile.” I can’t just smile, not when I still struggle thinking about my own trauma, and the vicarious trauma that I have begun to identify with.
I don’t want to have to recount my traumatic experiences every time that I justify why sexist comments hurt so much. I want to live in a world where we are able to empathize with how badly survivors are struggling to heal, in a community where it is normal and encouraged to ask for help and go to counselling when we are hurting. Seeing hundreds of my peers and community members participate in Outrun the Stigma, cheering in support of breaking down the barriers around the mental health conversation, I feel we have started to take important steps forward to support many of us who continue to struggle. I only hope that the momentum carries forward and that we continue to grow this conversation.
We were thrilled to be featured on the cover of the Calgary Herald on October 1, 2014 for bringing bystander intervention training to the Den. You can read the full article, as well as watch a short video of CASE president Emily Leedham explaining the program, at the Herald link below.
Many other outlets covered the story and you can check them all out here:
U of C trains bar staff in sexual assault prevention, Sep 30, 2014 - Calgary Herald
Staff at U of C bar get sexual assault prevention training Sep 30, 2014 - Radio 660 News
University of Calgary bar staff training to prevent sexual assault, Oct 1, 2014 - Global News
CASE on the Homestretch, Oct 1, 2014 - CBC Radio
Den staff trained to identify dangerous bar behaviour, Oct 2, 2014 - the Gauntlet