Addressing and preventing sexual violence requires coordinated, community action. As we commemorate Sexual Violence Prevention Month in Ottawa, we underscore the crucial role that collective action plays in fostering safer, more supportive environments for all individuals. Over many decades, extensive work has been done within the gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against women (VAW) sectors to identify and disrupt problematic and inaccurate views around sexual violence. Some key takeaways include:  

Sexual violence is about power and control. 

Accountability regarding sexual violence needs to shift from blaming the person who experienced it to holding the person and oppressive systems who harmed accountable for their actions. 

In discussions about sexual violence prevention, it’s crucial to recognize how power dynamics intersect with other forms of social injustice, perpetuating cycles of harm. 

Examples include (but certainly are not limited to): 

Colonialism: has historical and ongoing implications and is the foundation in which countless other layers of oppression (i.e., patriarchy, sexism, classism etc.) have been built upon in Canada. Gendered, colonial violence deliberately harms Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals, resulting in disproportionate rates of violence, homicides, police violence, child removal and sexual exploitation. May 5th is Red Dress Day, which holds space to honour, missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples (MMIWG2S+).  

Housing precarity: offenders of sexual and gender-based violence often target those who are precariously housed, as they know there are few safe options for these individuals to turn to for support and safe living conditions. 

Ableism:individuals with disAbilities are often targeted by people who hold power and control over them, which is exacerbated by barriers to accessible resources 

Addressing these issues requires prioritizing intersectional perspectives, amplifying the voices of affected communities, and advocating for policy reform and community-based interventions. 

Sexual violence prevention can start with us as a community. Impactful positive change can look like: 

  • Promoting Awareness and Education: Engaging fellow community members in discussions and education about sexual violence prevention and make connections to broader injustices and how layers of oppression operate in society. 
  • Advocating for Change: Community mobilization is crucial for driving systemic change and advocating for renewed and strategic prevention policies. 
  • Challenging Stigma and Misconceptions: Creating safe spaces for open conversations helps challenge harmful myths and victim-blaming attitudes surrounding sexual violence. 

Community involvement is critical in our efforts to prevent sexual violence and foster inclusive communities. As ORCC stands with many local organizations during Sexual Violence Prevention Month in Ottawa, we urge all community members to join us in taking meaningful action toward building safer, more inclusive communities. 

Below are organizations throughout Ottawa that are working to support individuals who have experienced sexual violence. We encourage you to browse their website to familiarize yourself with the work being done in the GBV and VAW sectors: 

A few valuable learning resources/examples regarding sexual violence prevention strategies include: 

Published On: May 4, 2024

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