Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan (SASS) is making a statement amid Sexual Assault Awareness Week: there should be no story left untold.
This is the theme of the campaign running all week on the organization’s social media accounts, which will be highlighting the stories of survivors.
“Stories are a really powerful tool for us to be able to help understand,” said SASS communications specialist Ashley Kilback. “They give a window into an experience that speaks to a complex issue.”
The issue of sexual violence is multifaceted and can be difficult to try and understand. For Kilback, the many sides of each story take a lot of thought and perspective.
One of those challenges is the barrier of access to help for survivors.
“A lot of times survivors are sharing their stories, but they lacked the resources that’s needed to heal from that experience,” she said. “There’s that side of sharing your story, but not being able to move through it.”
Another is the burden being placed on survivors to have others believe their assaults happened.
“Stories can be told, but some stories aren’t believed,” Kilback said.
In order to change this issue, SASS is encouraging the public to get involved. Even small gestures, according to Kilback, are a step in the right direction.
“It can be as simple as being available for a conversation with a survivor,” she continued, “or we can share a post, make a donation or volunteer for crisis lines.
“There’s so many different things we can all do.”
The Government of Saskatchewan is also encouraging the development of new initiatives to reduce sexual violence in Saskatchewan.
In a statement dated May 11, 2020, the provincial government proclaimed their recognition and support of Sexual Assault Awareness Week, running from the 11 to the 18.
The statement also said there will be $1.6 million allocated to agencies delivering direct support to sexual assault survivors this year. This is an increase of nearly 35 per cent from only three years ago.
It is the hope of SASS that supports like the ones this funding will provide will change the public narrative surrounding assault.
“A lot of times, we think that these things don’t happen in Saskatchewan, or we know that they do and we want to avoid it,” she said. “But Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in Canada. One in three women experience sexual violence, and one in six men.”
Indigenous women are also three times more likely to experience sexual assault in Saskatchewan.
Kilback understands that these statistics are likely not easy for some to stomach but they are important to recognize nonetheless.
“Having these conversations is uncomfortable,” she admitted. “But it’s our hope that we can have this as a tipping point, or the beginning of an exploration around how can we use the power of stories to be able to raise awareness for the issue.”
Survivor stories will be shared on SASS’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn daily until May 18.