Encouraging people to talk about a serious, personal and complex issue like sexual assault and consent is no easy feat. But the SWOVA team working on the project called Consent and Sexual Assault in the Southern Gulf Islands – Prevention and Response succeeded in opening the floodgates of discussion last year.
Sharyn Carroll, the project’s coordinator, was pleased with the sheer number of people — 451 — who completed a 34-question survey in May and June of 2016.
“I was really impressed by the amount of community engagement,” she said in a recent interview, “and the number of men  who participated in the survey.”
A small majority of respondents (about 54 per cent) felt “very confident” that they understood laws surrounding what constitutes “consent” to engage in sexual activity and sexual assault. Only 7.5 per cent were “not very confident.” The rest were “somewhat confident.”
Almost 80 per cent of respondents stated that they had experienced sexual harassment at some point in their life, 75 per cent pressure to participate in sexual activity, 63.4 per cent “a situation that could have been a sexual assault,” and 52.4 per cent “a situation that was definitely sexual assault.” Almost 25 per cent had experienced childhood sexual abuse.