0 com

How to Help Victims of Sexual Assault

You may remember an earlier post I did on SAVE, Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton, that made headlines around the world for its Don't Be That Guy Campaign, a public awareness initiative that shifts blame from the victim of sexual assault to the perpetrator. Although there has been some change in approach to reduce the incidence of sexual assault in a few cities in North America, changing attitudes is a much longer process. Look no further than this year's Sundance Film Festival audience award winner, "The Invisible War," which examines the rape culture in the US military. In the June 14 issue of the Guardian, author Naomi Wolf dug a little deeper into the US military's dirty little secret and reported that there were over 19,000 incidents of sexual assault in 2010 alone. Given the high incidence of sexual assault, it is important to educate members of the public about what they can do to help sexual assault victims.

The following post was written by my first guest blogger, Carmen Rivera, a freelance writer who is passionate about building safe communities.

Nursing a Victim Back to Health
by Carmen Rivera 

Every year, an enormous percentage of female college students are raped and 85% of the victims know their attacker. Arming young women with knowledge about the most common conditions for rape can help to avoid this terrifying possibility; however, if a child is sexually assaulted, it is important for loved ones to know what to do after directing them to someone who has been through a forensic science degree program. After the police, therapists, and other health professionals do what they can to help the victim, these women often resort to the comfortable, moral support of those who love them.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, ‘date rape’ accounts for 13% of college rapes, as well as 35% of attempted rapes. In addition, the National Center for Victims of Crime reports that 77% of rapes committed in the U.S. involve a woman being assaulted by someone she knows; this is known as 'acquaintance rape.'

In recent years, police nationwide have reported a spike in ‘drug-facilitated sexual assault.' In these instances, the female victim ingests a chemical that often renders her unconscious; typically, the attacker sneaks the substance into food or drink consumed by the victim. WomensHealth.gov reports that three drugs are most commonly used to commit date rape. Rohypnol, or ‘roofies’, are small pills that dissolve in the drink, often turning it cloudy and dark. GHB can come in liquid, powder or pill form, and often has no odor. And ketamine, or Special K, can be either a liquid or a white powder. However, alcohol is considered the most effective date rape drug; roughly 75% of college rape victims are under the influence of alcohol when the crime takes place.

According to the Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica, Calif., victims should follow a series of steps after the attack has occurred. First, she should go to a safe place (not necessarily her own dwelling) and immediately notify the police. After the crime has been reported, the victim should contact at least one trusted relative or friend, who can go to her at once and provide moral support. In order to help the authorities prosecute the attacker, the victim is cautioned to preserve all physical evidence of the crime until help arrives. Unfortunately, this means the victim should not shower, bathe, eat, drink, wash her hands or brush her teeth until her medical examination has concluded.

The victim should immediately visit an emergency room or specialized forensic clinic. Doctors can provide treatment for any injuries, as well as counsel the victim about exposure to sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Treatment for date-rape drugs can be administered, if necessary; Rohypnol and GHB can induce death, especially when mixed with alcohol. This second medical exam will also serve as evidence of the crime in the official police report.
In the days and weeks following a rape, the victim will need to rely on loved ones for support. Parents and/or parental figures typically serve as the backbone of this system. They can provide, without judgment, a loving environment within which the victim can recover. In addition, many rape-counseling programs allow and suggest family members take active roles in recovery, particularly through participation in group settings.

Rape victims often suffer from feelings of loss, contamination and despair, but with consistent and loving support, full recovery is possible. Once the initial medical exams are finished and the matter is given over to the police, many victims rely on the unconditional support provided by immediate family. When one feels dehumanized, nothing is more comforting than time spent with mom and dad.

If you have any questions about the above article you can contact Carmen Rivera here.

Other posts on the subject of sexual assault


Read more »
0 com

Relax, Regroup, Refocus

If you're trying to move away from social media, switch off your smart phone or disengage from the current political situation in Montreal, then you might want to head down to the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique de Montréal for the last day of the first annual Yoga Festival Montreal. There are numerous sessions to work on your breathing, unblock your chakras and reach new depths of consciousness. This is a great way to relax and regroup, but more importantly the perfect means for silencing the background noise in our lives.

Yoga Festival Montreal, brainchild of the Yoga Community of Montreal (YOCOMO), is a grassroots initiative aimed at recognizing the breadth of yoga practice and skill. The purpose of the Festival is to empower individuals and connect the city's vast range of traditions and practices, and celebrate its vibrant diversity. More than 30 different sessions have been scheduled in the spacious conservatory studios, and the cheerful volunteers will direct you to your session of choice.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend a session on ayurvedic yoga with Bita Bitajian, who trains at the Ayurvedic Institute with Dr. Vasant Lad in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ayurveda is the traditional Indian system of health that recommends a daily regimen of yoga to offset imbalances, while respecting our life stages and the changing seasons.

In the last session of the day, I heard the wise words of Dr. Madan Bali, the founder-director of the Montreal-based Yoga Bliss. An inspirational example of a healthy lifestyle, 88-year-old Dr. Bali has been credited with introducing yoga to schools, hospitals, community centres and corporations, as well as developing yoga as a complementary form for treating psychosomatic disorders.

If your yoga experience involved small dark studios with wooden floors groaning under your every  move, I recommend you stop by the conservatoire today to luxuriate in the large luminous studios. In fact, I don't think that YOCOMO could have found a more inspiring venue.

You still have a chance to catch some enlightening sessions today. You might want to dissolve the negativity in your life by meditating on the image of light with Juniper Glass, learn about the dynamic sacred art of Nritya, the yoga of dance, with Amrita Choudury or engage in a discussion on the interplay of sex and yoga (Brahmacharya) with Lauren Rudick.


This was cross-posted at Rover Arts under Festival City.

Other related posts:
YFM: Focus on Your Breathing Montreal
Review: A Buddhist Approach to Finding Release from Addictive Patterns
Review: The Spare Room by Helen Garner
Dance and Film: 3D Pina by Wim Wenders


Read more »
0 com

YFM: Focus on Your Breathing Montreal

With the recent political demonstrations in Montreal, many have been biting their nails about the potential loss of tourism dollars. Although festival season is still a few weeks away, I have found the perfect remedy for anyone feeling stressed or conflicted about the future: it's the Yoga Festival Montreal (YFM), from June 8 to 10, at the Montreal Music and Dramatic Arts Conservatory, 4750 Henri-Julien, Mont-Royal Metro.

If you've always been curious about yoga but were overwhelmed by all the different choices, YFM is a great place to start.  In addition to offering classes in the more traditional forms of yoga, such as Sivananda and Kundalini, the festival also has classes in the more modern practices (Moksha Yoga and Jivamukti). What's more, there will be end-of-day panel discussions and lectures to help orient newcomers to yoga. I look forward to the lecture on the Pursuit of Perfection: Health, Happiness, Healing and Wholeness by Dr. Madan Bali, which is also open to the public.

Downward Facing-Dog cc 2010 Witold Fitz-Simon
Before I had my two children, I used to take Sivananda classes on St-Laurent Boulevard in the Mile End. I quickly learned that yoga was about a lot more than just the sun salutations. In fact, if you've taken classes that focus strictly on the postures, and you cringe at the thought of downward-facing dog, then you haven't quite discovered it. Yoga involves  postures, deep-breathing, meditation, music, philosophy and politics, all things that can be found at YFM.

In my pre-children days, I once took part in a yoga festival. On the Friday, I attended a seminar on meditation, which isn`t as easy as it would seem and requires practice. On the Saturday, I took two 90-minute classes and made tremendous progress in some of the postures. I left feeling relaxed and peaceful, but was unable to honour my dinner plans later that evening. I went home and took a nap only to wake up at 10:00 am the next morning, feeling rejuvenated.

I highly recommend YFM for those who want to learn more about yoga or for those who just need to chill out. I few high-profile candidates immediately come to mind...

Links for further info on YFM
The festival schedule (Classes in French and English or Montreal-style: bilingual)
Teacher bios
Registration information

Related posts
"Projecting" Free Speech on Power Corporation
Pots and Pans Protest of Bill 78 
Riotous Super Moon in Quebec
Montreal: 200,000 People Protest



Read more »
0 com

Year of the E-book: Fifty Shades of Grey and Oprah 2.0

While many people still frown at the mention of e-books, they're a major boon to the publishing industry. Just imagine that Fifty Shades of Grey has now sold over 10 million copies, and people are still talking about it. What's more, the e-reader offers publishers endless means of promotion with its highlight and share features. And when we didn't think that the e-book business could get any bigger in walks Oprah...

A need for book clubs

After reading about a low-brow book, Fifty Shades of Grey, in a high-brow newspaper, I reviewed it, and I'm still astounded by how popular the review became. In just two months, I received 130 Facebook likes, dozens of comments and over 120,000 hits. That's success for a small-time book blogger. From this experience, I've discovered that I'm not alone: readers want to discuss what they read, particularly if they have strong feelings about it, and what better way than by leaving an anonymous comment and checking back.

I was once a member of a book club, and it was a wonderful experience. I read a lot of books that I never would have otherwise picked up, and I was able to discover other readers' thoughts on a book, sometimes validating my own, but more often than not giving me new food for thought. But it was finding the time to get five busy people together that eventually ended our group.

No need to get together if you have an e-reader

This year I received an e-reader for my birthday, and I won't lie. I love it. I like that I can change the font size and highlight a word to get the dictionary definition. In other words, I no longer have to contend with poor paper quality and cutting-edge designer font, two pet peeves that can ruin the read. But here's the big game changer: I can now highlight my favourite passages and share them.

Enter Oprah

If anyone has the star power to kick start a phenomenon, it's Queen Oprah. On Friday, she announced her new book club, format 2.0. Book publishers are rubbing their palms together as I write this! Readers can not only share their thoughts on Facebook and Twitter (#oprahsbookclub), but they can also read the passages her Majesty liked and commented on, with the Oprah's Book Club 2.0 Digital Edition, of course. Careful, there are several different versions of the book.

Oprah chose Wild by Cheryl Strayed (lucky her!) as her first book for Oprah's Book Club 2.0. Not only can you read the most inspiring quotes from Wild, but you can also get the O reading guide and join the book conversation with the talk show host extraordinaire.

 I'm not sure how Oprah decided on this book, but I'm wondering what is going to happen when and if she decides to feature Fifty Shades of Grey.

I've bought Wild and I will report back on whether or not Oprah's highlighted passages and comments actually enhance the reading experience.

Other book-related posts:

Fifty Shades of Grey, an update
Joyce Carol Oates on her Life and US Politics
Fifty Shades of Grey 
The Blue Dragon by Robert Lepage and Marie Michaud
The Return by Dany Laferrière
Meet Revolutionary Mother 
Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter
Interview with Carmen Aguirre, Chilean Resistance Fighter
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Antagonist by Lynn Coady
Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
Dogs at the Perimeter by Madeleine Thien
Going Down Swinging by Billie Livingston
Incendiary by Chris Cleave
Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell 
The Girl Without Anyone by Kelli Deeth


Read more »
0 com

"Projecting" Free Speech on Power Corporation

This is about another type of protest.
At Christmas, as you may recall, I reported that media ownership was concentrated in the hands of a wealthy few, also known as the 1%. This week in the media, it was reported that the Quebec government leader, Jean Charest, was actually a privileged guest at Sagard, a sprawling estate owned by none other than the über rich Desmarais family (the rulers of Power Corporation), who coincidentally own one of Quebec's largest dailies, La Presse. Given this and the fact that the Charest government has limited the freedom of assembly and the right to protest, it would seem that mere mortals have relatively few conventional means to get their message out.

But who needs conventional! 

Fortunately, students brimming with creativity make up the front-line of government opposition. I came across this page today on Facebook: Nous Sommes Tous Arts, a group that specializes in projecting protest messages.

The top left picture below shows the projection of the Power Corporation logo with that of Jean Charest's Liberal Party on La Presse's office building on St. Antoine Street in downtown Montreal. The tagline below reads "Same struggle." 

In gentle mockery of a sketchy pro-Charest poll conducted of a very small number of respondents and published on the front page of La Presse, Nous Sommes Tous Arts projected the results of an equivalent poll  (top right picture below). The group surveyed some 20 people at the corner of Sanguinet and Ste-Catherine streets in downtown Montreal on May 28, between 6:30 and 8:00 pm. Those surveyed were asked "Do you believe that the Desmarais have a hidden agenda?" Quite unsurprisingly, 90% responded "yes," while 10% responded "no."

According to the Facebook page, the projection lasted about 45 minutes. The police did arrive on the scene, asked for ID and took the name(s) of the projectionist(s), but fortunately, no charges were laid. I think this is a brilliant, creative form of free speech.

If the 1% is going to project their beliefs on us then we will just project our beliefs back on them.

Other student protest related posts:
Pots and Pans Protest of Bill 78 
Riotous Super Moon in Quebec
Montreal: 200,000 People Protest


Read more »