Rape’s Long Shadow

The Globe & Mail recently published this article about the long-term consequences of sexual violence, featuring Amanda Dale, Executive Director of Toronto’s Barbra Schlifer Clinic and a fellow Osgoode graduate student.

Picture of Amanda Dale
Amanda Dale

A couple noteworthy points from the article:

  • Social responses to women who disclose sexual violence make a difference.

Research suggests that the reception a woman gets the first time she discloses her attack can shape her experience of trauma. With supportive reception, survivors’ psychological distress can lessen, making them less susceptible to re-victimization. But women who are dismissed when they speak up for the first time often do not talk about it again, a silence that can be extremely detrimental.

  • The current rise in awareness and disclosure needs to be matched by an increase in front-line services.

It’s irresponsible to raise awareness without raising the capacity to receive these stories,” Dale says. “We got 30 calls last week. We don’t want to keep those women waiting for a response. They’re ready. They’re calling.

Also interesting is the continued use of the term “rape” in this and other recent articles, despite the fact that rape was replaced by sexual assault in the Canadian Criminal Code back in 1983. Wondering about the reasons for this (somewhat ineffective) change in wording? See here for a helpful overview.

 

 

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