The Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre believes public education is essential to creating a community free of violence. Presentations and workshops are available for a variety of groups. ORCC can also offer facilitator or teacher training to help teachers cover related issues. Our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts are also part of our public education program.
Whether online or through presentations and workshops, our public education program seeks to:
- Inform and engage the community on all issues relating to sexual violence and to facilitate meaningful conversations on the related issues
- Promote learning skills that will identify and eliminate sexual assault
- Provide opportunities for thoughtful discussions, self-exploration and the application of information
- Provide up-to-date information on sexual assault specific to the Ottawa area
- Increase awareness of recent legal issues concerning sexual assault
- Create educational campaigns that stress the importance that it is everyone’s responsibility to end sexual violence
- Create partnerships in the community and to provide opportunities for schools, crisis centers, church groups, and other community institutions and organizations to work together towards the common goal of eliminating sexual violence
- Increase visibility of the crisis line number and information about our services
- Facilitate opportunities to dispel myths and challenge assumptions about gender roles in society
- Implement innovative ways to raise funds for the centre.
Why this approach
Until quite recently, sexual assault was not talked about publicly. It was often considered a shameful secret that we had to keep to ourselves. Thanks to a growing movement of women's activism, this began to change in North America during the early 1970’s. Over time the laws, attitudes, and language regarding sexual assault have changed. These changes reflect society’s growing recognition of how widespread the problem is, how traumatic these crimes are for the victims, and how difficult it is to report the crime of sexual assault to the authorities.
Overall, in the past two decades people have gained a clearer picture of the issue of sexual violence. Even though we have a long way to go before all women feel safe all the time, we are much more aware of the myths that have clouded the issue for so long.
However, when faced with questions or comments on the issue of sexual violence, most people feel uncomfortable and do not know what to say. This discomfort and lack of information often results in inaccurate information being passed on. Also, because of sexist attitudes which are still prevalent in our society, discussions can often take on tones of victim blaming or may unintentionally reinforce myths about sexual violence. If that happens, it may discourage others from bringing the topic up again. More importantly, this may discourage some from speaking about their experiences of sexual assault. This is why we believe that public education is such an essential part of the work that we do at the ORCC.
About our public education sessions
We offer a range of presentations or workshops that can be adapted to suit your needs on request. We welcome public education requests from organisations, community groups, secondary or university classes, or other audiences who might benefit. In the past, we have addressed topics such as:
- Consent and Understanding Sexual Assault/Abuse
- Gender Norms and Sex in our Culture
- Media Literacy and Online Harassment
- Consent & Healthy Relationships
- Rape Culture
- Building Social Change
- Sexual Harassment and Bill 168
- Community Bystander Intervention
- Being a Good Support Person
- Feminist Counselling
- Vicarious Trauma & Compassion Fatigue
In offering presentations on sexual violence in the community and engaging people in discussions, we have noticed that many people seem to have a good understanding of the issues on an intellectual level. For example, many young people will agree that the victim/survivor is never at fault, and most now know that an acquaintance rape is much more prevalent than stranger rape. However, this understanding may not translate into how they can change their attitudes and behaviors on a personal level.
Many people recognize that communication is the key to preventing sexual violence, but are never given any opportunities to practice effective communication skills (verbal and non-verbal) or talk to each other about sexual activity, needs, discomfort and rights. This is why we believe that fostering challenging discussions on sexual violence can have the most impact, and why we invite men and women, particularly youth to share their perspectives during our workshops.
As facilitators, we use our knowledge and our experience working with survivors to support these discussions, ensuring that they challenge myths about sexual violence, gender inequality, and other forms of oppression that exist in society.
At the end of each session, if we have done nothing else, we have at least started a dialogue and encouraged reflection, something we believe will lead to change.
Becoming a public education volunteer
Public education at the ORCC can consist of many different types of work such as staffing an information table at a school or community fairs, giving presentations on sexual assault to groups, publicizing our services, organizing events to raise money for the Centre, organizing and maintaining the resource library, working on our web page, contributing to social media, etc.
We offer training and support for women who want to become public educators. If you're interested in becoming a public education volunteer, find out more by clicking here or call Ally at 613-562-2334 ext.31. You can also contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org