'Jane Doe' helps open Sexual Assault Roadshow in Ottawa
Sexual Assault: the Roadshow on Montreal Road.
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Thursday, August 3, 2017 5:05PM EDT
Jane Doe became a public voice for victims of sexual assault, after suing Toronto Police for using her as rape bait in the '80's. Now she's lending her voice for a traveling road show, using art to help victims heal. It's called "Sexual Assault: The Roadshow. The shipping container is parked on Montreal Road in Ottawa, a visual art display and a help centre for these victims of crime.
There is no missing the colorful container, and that's the point and the reason it is front and centre in that particular part of east Ottawa.
Yamikani Msosa is a support worker with the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa, “It's really important for us to be in an area where there are marginalized communities,” she says, “Vanier is known for a lot of sex workers being present in the area, so having the Sexual Assault Roadshow present allows us to engage in conversations.”
Inside, the vibrant images are as raw and as shocking as the experiences many of the victims have endured.
“What we're doing isn't working,” says Jane Doe, who was the victim of a serial rapist in Toronto in the 1980’s, “Women continue to report, and the conviction rate is abysmal. Women who do report are treated like criminal.”
Jane Doe successfully sued the Toronto Police for not having warned women about a rapist at loose in downtown Toronto, essentially using her as “rape bait”, she argued. She is helping to set up this Road Show throughout the province.
“Art gives us an opportunity to adopt a new language for people to express what's happened to them in new ways.”
And it's happening on an increasing basis. According to stats from Ottawa Police, there were nearly 700 sexual violations last year, compared to 588 the year before, an increase of 18%. So, exhibits like this are touching a nerve.
“You can see a lot of the emotions and a lot of their thoughts coming through,” says Heather Cahill.
“My daughters are victims as well,” adds Jessyca Lamarre, “and to see that people are reaching out, it gets here you know, it's pretty awesome.”
There will be workshops every Thursday for survivors or witnesses of sexual assault. They will create art through a variety of forms and then at the end of the month, their art will be showcased.
“There's a tons of images here that speak to survivors,” says Yamikani Msosa, “That lets them know they are not alone and lets them know we are not going to stay silent about this issue.”
The Road Show is open almost every day until the end of August. There will also be support workers on site in case some of the images trigger strong feelings for some of the survivors. The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa has a 24 hour support line at 613-234-2266.