Campaigns against sexual assault and violence often focus on telling women how to stay safe. “Don’t wear this”, “don’t drink too much”, “don’t take unlicensed taxi cabs”. This represents an unacceptable level of victim-blaming where the spotlight is always placed on what a women was doing at the time of an unprovoked and violent attack. Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton (SAVE) is a coalition of educators, NGO’s, sexual assault counsellors, the Edmonton Police Service, and interested business and individuals who aim to change the way in which sexual assault campaigns are presented.
Their common goal is to reduce the number of alcohol facilitated sexual assaults by targeting not the individuals who are victims of these assaults but those who commit them. The coalition seeks to raise awareness about alcohol facilitated sexual violence, challenge myths and stereotypes, stand in solidarity with survivors and most of all, fight victim-blaming.
On November 22, 2010 SAVE launched their brand new Don’t Be That Guy campaign. The message is simple: don’t be that guy, don’t be the one to take advantage of an intoxicated woman and the byline of the campaign is “sex without consent = sexual assault”.
The coalition are aware of the daunting task that lies ahead of them and they have a five-year timeframe in which they plan to launch several campaigns. As they say on their website, “We’re looking for a shift in society that’s about respecting each other. Smoking used to be cool, drunk driving was once a joke – well, the way that we think about and respond to sexual assault is evolving. And it’s time”.
One thing is for sure, this campaign is leagues ahead of the Transport for London Cabwise campaign run in London, England which features a woman being assaulted and the words “Stop, no. Stop please, no, please. Please stop taking unbooked minicabs”. It is time indeed to stop blaming the victim.
The SAVE website also includes several resources including a fact sheet detailing the myths about sexual assault and rape as well as documents entitled Defining Sexual Assault & Consent, Acquaintance Sexual Assault, Drug & Alcohol Facilitated Sexual Assault and Male Survivors of Sexual Assault.