Saturday Night: Untold Stories of Sexual Assault in Guelph: Book Launch
Thursday, December 6, 20071 Comment
Karen Mann-Bowers was asked to speak due to her experience as a women's councilor at a shelter for abused women. "Violence against women," she said; "is an issue that is crucial to our city our society and or world." She spoke with an understanding that comes from being a feminist, active in the women's movement for 13 years, and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
She believes that power and control are involved in gender based violence. These can manifest both physically and emotionally; from verbal put downs about ones body, to forcing a partner to watch porn, to unwanted touching.
Mann-Bowers says from her own experience, which statistics prove, that the longer a woman stays in the shelter the less likely she is to return. It takes a long time to change unsafe lifestyles and for a host of reasons, it can be difficult to make the choice to leave. The blame lies not with the women who stay in abusive relationships but with a culture that normalizes abuse. For example, many women did not think that being forced to have sex with their partner is considered rape because sex is seen as a duty between intimate partners. Mann-Bowers thinks we must 'unlearn' the negative and damaging things we have been taught about women and relationships which are inherent in our patriarchal culture.
In closing she asked us to use the privileges we all carry to constantly confront the violence we see every day.
Saturday Night: Untold Stories of Sexual Assault in Guelph was created by the Saturday Night Crew, a working group through the Guelph Resource Center for Gender Empowerment and Diversity (GRC GED.) It is s a compilation of stories people were asked to submit concerning sexual assault in Guelph. It also contains a list of resources for survivors. As it states in the introduction; "These stories not only speak of the overwhelmingly pervasive effect that sexual assault has on an individual's life, they make it clear that there's a very real desire to start talking about it." Copies were given away for free at the event but you can get a copy at the GRC GED.
Sonal Pala, one of the book's editors, says; "New comers to Guelph are alienated from their support systems and people devalue their experiences a lot. It can take a while to define assault because of the limited definition of rape. By having peoples personal stories they will be able to see what sexual assault is on a more personal and human level." The intention is to get Saturday Night; "out to every first year, starting in January, then every following O-Week."
Saturday Night: Untold Stories of Sexual Assault in Guelph is the first volume of an ongoing project. Anyone wishing to be part of the working group or submit a story can email