An "A" For Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign

As many of you know, April is sexual assault awareness month. This year the Quebec government has released a very poignant  TV and Web advertising campaign. In this series, the victim speaks directly to the camera and addresses her attacker, referring to the exact moment of her assault. In the TV ad on the left, the victim states,

"It's been 32 years, 6 months and 1 week, since you assaulted me....I will never forget your face."

On the Sexual Assault website and in the web ads, the time is given in years, months, weeks, days, minutes and even seconds, making it abundantly clear that this traumatic event is never forgotten (See photo bottom right.).

What I found particularly innovative about this campaign is that the government also features men as victims of sexual assault, and although male victims recounting their ordeals have yet to be televised, their stories are nevertheless on the website. In addition, the government has featured individuals of different ages, but unfortunately, we see just one woman of colour. At the top centre of the website, you will also find a quick exit button and instructions on how to erase your Internet history from your browser for individuals who fear retribution. This is a very comprehensive bilingual site that provides a definition and the different forms of sexual assault (worth reading), the signs that a sexual assault victim might exhibit, advice for victims, recent statistics and further assistance resources.

As I went through the statistics, I was struck by how little I knew about sexual assault and how much television, specifically CSI and Law and Order, had coloured my view. The following are the statistics that I found the most telling:

Sexual assault is the least reported crime
34% of sexual offences registered in 2008 were reported to police the same day they were committed, while 20% were reported over a year after being committed.

83% of the victims were women: 53% were girls under the age of 18; 30% were adult women; 15% were young boys under the age of 18; and 2% were adult men.

68% of victims were under the age of 18.

69% were assaulted in private homes: 39% lived in the same residence as the perpetrator.

81% of victims knew their perpetrators: 27% were mere acquaintances.

98% of perpetrators were men: the highest percentage were in the 12 to 17 age group (21%) and the 35 to 44 age group (21%). Don't be fooled by Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Rape by women is evidently very rare or rarely reported.

The website also points out that sexual assault perpetrators are generally people of sound mind. Also, men who sexually assault young boys are not necessarily homosexual.

If the government had featured more people of colour in its ads and had made it more Web 2.0 friendly, ie, included a share button and posted these ads on YouTube, I would have given the GoQ an "A+" Nevertheless, I encourage you to visit the site. The actors' performances are very moving.

Government of Quebec Sexual Assault website


Doreen McGettigan | April 19, 2010 at 6:37 PM

In America; April is Crime Victims Awareness a formal sexual assault counselor I can say our statistics are pretty much the

Heather | April 19, 2010 at 8:27 PM

Thanks so much for confirming this. A friend and I were just discussing this the other day. We wondered if the situation was the same everywhere. Thanks for your comment. Heather

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