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What’s the most important thing to say if someone discloses sexual violence to you?
It’s “I believe you”.
There’s power in believing. That’s why the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) has started the #IBelieveYou campaign.
Now in its second year, the #IBelieveYou campaign is an incredibly important step toward developing a culture of belief for sexual assault survivors, and creating a safer community for everyone. You don’t need to be a counsellor, a trained first responder, or a doctor to support a sexual assault survivor – you just need to be a friend, and to believe them. It starts with you, and three simple words.
The #IBelieveYou campaign strives to shift the common response to sexual assault away from minimization and justification toward compassion and belief. This is especially important in a post-secondary education environment, where many students are at high risk for sexual, dating, or relationship violence. The premise is simple: “When you start by believing, you encourage more survivors to get help and seek justice, making our communities healthier and safer for everyone.”
In association with Calgary Communities Against Sexual Assault, Alberta Association of Sexual Assault Services, Calgary Emergency Women’s Shelter, and MRU Security, we are proud to host an event promoting the #IBelieveYou campaign throughout the day on October 12th, 2016 in Wyckham House from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This is an opportunity to learn more about #IBelieveYou and what you should do if someone discloses sexual assault to you. We’ll also have lots of information about local services and programs for sexual assault survivors, and a photobooth for everyone who wants to show their support for #IBelieveYou (photos will be posted later on social media).
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, there are many services available to you on and off campus. Sometimes it takes time to decide what kind of support or help you would like to receive, and that’s okay. Please know that, should you decide to seek support, you will find that you are not alone, and there are people who care about you and are waiting to connect you with the resources you need.
The Students’ Association offers barrier-free peer counselling, with an emphasis on providing confidential services with dignity, care, and trust. Connect with the Peer Support Centre (room Z210, or call 403-440-6269) or the Pride Centre (room Z211, or call 403-440-5604) to speak with a trained student volunteer. Mount Royal University also offers Student Counselling Services through the Wellness Centre (room U216), and can be reached at 403-440-6362 to book an appointment.
The Distress Centre offers 24-hour support and counselling; you can contact them online or by phone at 403-266-4357. Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA) also has a 24-hour crisis line available at 403-237-5888.