The Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland Drug Strategy is reminding people of the dangers of drug and alcohol use as it relates to sexual assault with a social media campaign May 6-10.
The drug strategy is participating in the provincial Sexual Assault Prevention Month with the campaign, which aims to highlight the involvement of alcohol and other substances in reported sexual assaults.
The organizations behind the strategy said between 25 and 50 per cent of sexual assaults involve alcohol or other drugs.
Strategy co-ordinator Megan Deyman said the hope is for the campaign to raise awareness and connect people with supports.
“The campaign will also give people information about boundaries and consent and to encourage conversations free of shame and blame,” Deyman said.
Strategy media and communications worker Nick Adams said the range between 25 and 50 per cent is due to the different sources the stats are pulled from, with the upper-range coming from campus-based studies.
The campaign discusses issues such as people’s misunderstanding of consent and how alcohol and drugs can impair one’s ability to consent. “
There’s real confusion it seems with what consent even means. The fact that consent can even start at one point and can be withdrawn at any time,” Adams said. “The fact is if someone is intoxicated, they can’t give consent. Whereas our culture, talking about young people, it’s a hook-up culture where you’re meeting in bars, you’re meeting in social settings where alcohol’s involved.”
The campaign notes 27 per cent of sexual assaults occur in bars or restaurants. Adams said rape myths are still prevalent.
In his previous capacity as a youth minister, he said he has seen them perpetuated in the community.
“Thinking about incidents in our own community, I think there’s this idea that these are good boys that wouldn’t do something like that. This idea that the victim was lying in some way … that’s unfortunate, it really is,” Adams said. “Nobody asks to be assaulted.”
Adams said it is important for young people to understand consent and he hopes to spread the campaign’s message to the local high school amidst prom season.
He added it is important for bystanders to be active in potentially dangerous situations involving drug and alcohol use.
“We need to be able to speak up and speak truth to these situations,” Adams said.