For the first time in recent memory, Deltans will be marching to support men and women who have been affected by sexual assault and domestic violence.
On May 30, Deltassist will be hosting Take Back the Night, a grassroots movement that started in the United States back in the 1970s. The event is intended to spread awareness for survivors of domestic abuse, something that Deltassist’s manager of counselling services Zoë Sehn believes is important for the community.
“It’s an ongoing problem in our community,” Sehn said about sexual violence. “It’s not just something that happens in those places where there’s lower socio-economic individuals. This is happening in Ladner, in Tsawwassen, in North Delta. It’s happening in our community to men and women.”
The free event will take place at Deltassist’s North Delta office, starting at 5 p.m. (Advance registration is required, contact Sehn at email@example.com or 604-594-3455 ext 105.)
The schedule is a work in progress — Sehn only found out that she received funding to put on the event from the federal Department of Justice last week — but it is expected to include presentations from Delta Police Victims’ Services and Deltassist on their programs.
Deltassist offers its Alternatives to Violence program for women experiencing domestic violence, and a similar program for women who have experienced sexual assault. A third program is available for the perpetrators of sexual assault, so long as they haven’t been charged.
From these programs, Deltassist will be inviting survivors to share their stories at the May 30 event. Sehn expects most of these speakers will be women.
But that’s not the case in society. Although Sehn noted that the stereotype of an abusive relationship involves a male perpetrator and a female victim, violence and sexual assaults affects all genders and all types of couples.
One in three women experience domestic violence or sexual assault, and the same is true for one in six men.
“I wanted to shine a light, I guess, on that fact that it’s not just women who are experiencing this,” she said. “It’s not just happening in these binary relationships of men and women … Domestic violence, sexual assault, it’s happening in relationships that are gay, lesbian, trans — all those sorts of relationships have the potential to experience this.”
Sehn is hoping some male survivors of sexual assault will come speak, but also hopes other men will come as supporters and help prevent these incidents from happening in the future.
The first two hours of Take Back the Night will take place at Deltassist’s office, located at 9097 Scott Rd. After 7 p.m., the group will start a 2.4 km walk from the office, past Delview Secondary and back.
It’s a show of solidarity and support, and one that Sehn hopes can become an annual event.
“We can go along in the silos of ‘This is my life. This doesn’t happen to me. I don’t know anyone who’s experienced it.’” Sehn said. “But it’s really important to recognize that it’s possible that you do.”
“If you know three women … then you know someone who has had an experience” with sexual assault or domestic violence, she continued. “If you know six men, then they might not have shared it with you, but you know someone with this experience.
“So to show support, to bring the community together, is just a big thing.”