YWCA Regina has launched its sixth annual Sexual Assault Awareness Coaster Campaign.

Coasters and stickers will be distributed to bars, restaurants and businesses across Regina in order to raise awareness around sexual violence and prevention.

This year’s theme is “choose to see,” which encourages people to choose to see the way gender-based violence and sexual assault is normalized by society.

“It’s about choosing to see the impacts that the potential for violence has on people’s lives,” said Alexis Losie, YWCA Regina senior director of operations.

People make decisions everyday to protect themselves from sexual violence, Losie said, such as walking in groups and taking a cab home from the bar.

“It’s not about how I should have to protect myself so that I don’t get raped,” she said.

“The message has to be don’t rape.”

Rebellion Brewing is one of more than 20 businesses taking part in the coaster campaign to help normalize conversations around sexual violence and spark discussions in social spaces.

“We have an obligation,” said Mark Heise, president and CEO of Rebellion Brewing. “We’re ultimately serving alcohol and we know that alcohol does contribute to sexual violence and harassment.”

The brewing industry has a history of sexual harassment and violence, according to Heise.

He believes the taproom is a safe space for everyone, but he said they could always strive to do better.

“You can’t rest on your laurels,” he said.

“You have to always hold people accountable, continue that conversation and continue to be a positive ally.”

SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK

The YWCA’s coaster campaign lines up with Sexual Violence Awareness Week that takes place May 16 to 22.

This year’s awareness week focuses on sexual exploitation and human trafficking in the province.

“Everyday people are exploited and trafficked by their intimate partners in Saskatchewan,” said Ashley Kilback, communications specialist with Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan (SASS).

One in three women and one in six men in Canada will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime, according to Kilback. The majority, 85 per cent, of survivors will know their attacker.

“This is more than the data that exists,” Kilback said.

“We have to look to the human experience, particularly to those who are in marginalized, vulnerable groups who are at the greatest risk of experiencing that.”

SASS is hosting a number of virtual events during sexual violence awareness week that will focus on human trafficking, community and institutional accountability in response to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and survivor stories.

These are not easy topics to discuss, Kilback said. But it is important that allies offer comfort and a safe space for survivors who are sharing their stories.

“To believe somebody when they tell us they have experienced sexual violence and what that creates for that person in being able to just be seen and heard and understood in that moment”

More information on sexual violence awareness week can be found here.


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