“I was assaulted by someone I had known for 15 years. Eighty per cent of survivors have experienced acquaintance sexual assault, so someone they know or someone they care about. So for me, it felt important to speak out, to give a face to a lot of peoples’ experiences and then it empowers people to start talking … it makes me feel that talking about it is worth it.”
“When I initially disclosed to a social group I was close with for 15 years, which included my brother, none of them believed me, and they all stopped speaking to me and they still hang out with the person who assaulted me. That was incredibly painful and incredibly difficult because not only was I going through this, but I was pretty much completely alone.
"I decided I wasn’t going to hang on to this because it was toxic to me to keep holding this inside of me — not speaking about it and keep shoving it down is not healthy. So I decided to post about my experience on Facebook before I went to bed and when I woke up, I was amazed at the feedback I was receiving from people, things like, ‘That’s so brave of you, thank you for sharing your story, we support you, we love you’. It was huge and I think then I started feeling more comfortable and then speaking about it in a more public way started to feel more comfortable. It is empowering to talk about it because it takes away that shame and the secrecy that is so toxic to survivors.”
“I work on behalf of the Sexual Assault Centre in Edmonton and I’ve been doing a lot of media stuff around the I Believe You campaign, which is connected to building a culture of belief and support for survivors of sexual violence ... With the campaign, we’ve seen a 53 per cent increase of people accessing the Sexual Assault Centre’s services across the province, that’s the provincial average. In Sherwood Park, it’s been a 90 per cent increase of people coming into the centre looking for support, so it creates this environment where people begin to feel okay talking about this with a counsellor and getting some help …
The goal is to change the culture so it’s knee-jerk for people to say ‘I believe you’ when someone discloses to you. And to ultimately prevent sexual assault from happening.”
United Way of the Alberta Capital Region partnered with Faces of Edmonton. Faces of Edmonton features faces and stories relating to the United Way and its work in your community. We’re looking forward to sharing these portraits and stories with you. To learn more about United Way's work check out the Report to Community online.