MentorAction in the News

The Pain Never Goes Away: May is Sexual Violence Awareness Month

Meet Amelia.

She lives in the downtown area and did not wish to have her last name used for this article.

About 13 or 14 years ago while living in the Woodstock area she was sexually assaulted, molested by “a friend of a friend” in a basement stairwell at her high school.

“It left me with nightmares,” she said “When ever I’m in an area that resembles (the stairwell) I become panicked, I get a quick sweat and I need to get out of that situation.”

About 10 years ago she moved to Hamilton.

By 2011 the affects of that assault and her move to end an abusive relationship led her to the door of the Sexual Assault Centre Hamilton Area or SACHA for counselling and other support services.

She refuses to let fear and pain take over and stays active through working along with cycling, yoga and speaking to youth groups, letting young females and males know that sexual assault or gender based violence has to stop.

May is Sexual Violence Awareness month in Hamilton and Sexual Assault Prevention month across Ontario.

Erin Crickett, public education coordinator at SACHA, noted sexual violence remains a big issue in the community.

“The numbers haven’t decreased,” Crickett said.

According to the Ontario Women’s Directorate (part of the provincial government) website, it is estimated that one in three Canadian women will experience sexual assault in their adult life.

Also, women are 11 times more likely then men to be victims of sexual assault and only about 10 percent of sexual assault cases get reported to police.

Crickett said there is a feeling among some young women that sexual assault is normal or something that they have to put up with.

“I go to high schools (to speak to Grade 9 students) and in between classes I’d see women’s bums being touched,” Crickett said.

Despite the statistics and what she’s seeing in some high schools, Cricket said the situation is slowly improving.

“In the past five years we’ve seen a huge movement to counter victim-blaming,” she said. “That it’s not the survivors’ fault; survivors don’t cause rape because of what they wear or where they go or because they have a drink.”

Crickett noted sexual assault is getting more discussion in the community than ever before and grassroots groups like MentorAction (a group of local male leaders committed to ending gender-based violence) are being formed to address the issue.

“Whether it’s interrupting a sexist joke, whether it’s supporting a friend who’s experienced sexual violence, whether it’s going to a workshop, sharing on Facebook, there are lots of different ways to end sexual violence and it’s each Hamiltonian’s responsibility to be involved,” she said.

See: for a list of events the organization is holding during Sexual Assault Awareness month.

By Mark Newman, News Staff

 Tuesday, May, 06, 2014: link to article

COMMUNITY COLUNNIST: Men must speak out against gender-based violence

By Dr. Mo Bhandari, special to the News

November is Woman Abuse Awareness Month — a time for all of us to reflect and look at the progress we are making to eliminate gender-based violence from our community and to also remember those who are affected. A number of years ago, I was asked a question by a violence against women expert regarding an injury and unique fracture a woman had. I was asked if it was abuse. This interaction changed me forever. It started me on a journey to study how orthopedic doctors were trained and responded to the issue of intimate partner violence.

I and a few colleagues found proper training and response was lacking. In fact, surgeons were trained to look at the injury and not all the surrounding issues. Our research further found this issue is a larger concern for clinicians than was thought. This furthered my resolve to engage colleagues and our professional association to make some changes. I am pleased at the results. The Canadian Association of Orthopedic Surgeons adopted a statement to included asking about abuse and ensuring supports are offered to victims. The association has now gone further by including questions on the final examine specific to woman abuse. This change was slow and not without its challenges; however, its impact is making changes. This journey highlighted for me the importance leaders in all areas play in making changes towards the elimination of gender-based violence.

Last December, our small group of male leaders called MentorAction met with over 70 male leaders in our community at an event where our key speaker Mike “Pinball” Clemons challenged male leaders in this community to leave the sidelines of silence and stand up and speak out because things will not change without men taking a more active role with men. Our group was inspired by Pinball’s challenge and in June revealed the results from our community-wide survey on violence and community safety.

Here are what the survey of 433 males, females and trans from our community said: • 95 per cent said male leaders in our community need to be involved • 97 per cent said living in a home without violence builds safe communities • 87 per cent said male violence against women is an issue in Hamilton • women reported more sexual, domestic and harassment violence than did men. We are calling everyone from our community to attend our event on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 10-11:30 a.m. in the council chambers at City Hall to learn what can be done and to engage in the “Stand up and speak out to end gender based violence initiative.”

Dr. Mo Bhandari is an orthopedic surgeon, surgery professor and academic division head of orthopedic surgery at McMaster University.

From Hamilton Community News: Tuesday, October, 29, 2013: link to article

MentorAction Chair on Hamilton Life

MentorAction chair Val Sarjeant appeared on Cable 14’s Hamilton Life on  Thursday, October 31st, 2013. He appears at around 23 minutes into the episode to talk about MentorAction’s first event.

MentorAction on Hamilton Life

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