The Revelstoke Women’s Shelter are raising awareness, encouraging meaningful conversation, and offering continued support to those who wish to learn more about what consent means during Consent Awareness Week, which runs from Sept. 19-23.
According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, only 28 per cent of people in Canada fully understand what it means to give consent.
There are 636,000 sexual assaults self-reported every year in Canada, and last year, 34,242 were reported to police. That number is 18 per cent higher than in 2020 and the highest rate since 1996.
The Revelstoke Women’s Shelter continue to work in local schools with the youth of the community in order to teach students what it means to consent at the age when these behaviours develop.
One in 7 young girls in Canada have reported that another student has sexually assaulted them, and 71 per cent of students either witnessed or experienced unwanted sexualized behaviours in a post-secondary setting, and 41 per cent of all reported incidents of sexual assault were reported by students.
“It’s your body, and you get to decide what happens,” said Michelle Maillet, with the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter.
Last spring, the women’s shelter, in partnership with Community Connections, came up with a consent and healthy relationships workshop to be taught in Revelstoke schools based off of previous work they have done in the community.
The two-part workshop is built to teach youth about healthy relationships and consent. Their work with teaching consent is delivered through the acronym F.R.I.E.S., which represents what one should understand when discerning whether or not an individual is giving consent: freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic and specific.
Maillet said that in the past the feedback from youth who were involved in the workshop was ‘really positive’, and that the students experienced a few ‘a-ha’ moments when learning about certain aspects of consent.
“Now I know I can change my mind, even if I said yes before,” said one student in reaction to the consent workshop.
Maillet added that consent doesn’t only relate to sexual activity, and that part of what they’re trying to teach is to expand the words meaning to anything related to your body.
Consent boils down to having complete say over what happens to your own body, which also means decisions about your gender identity or what haircut you choose to wear.
The Revelstoke Women’s Shelter are encouraging community members to engage in consent conversations this week.
“Although it is an important topic to bring to the surface, it can be a very sensitive one for many,” Maillet added. “Let’s tread lightly and mindfully through these conversations.”
To get in contact with the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter, visit revelstokewomensshelter.ca, call their office at 250-837-4382, or in case of emergency call their crisis line at 250-837-1111. Callers can remain anonymous if they wish.