'Draw the Line' sexual violence campaign gets fresh launch in Hamilton

A group of Hamilton agencies working to end violence against women launched a local campaign Tuesday as part of a larger provincial initiative encouraging bystanders to take action against threats of sexual violence.

Provincial public education outreach tries to gain new ground locally

Hamilton officials, workers and residents are encouraged to take part in public education campaigns to end sexual violence, and to step in and intervene if they witness a potentially threatening situation that could lead to sexual assault. (Women Abuse Working Group)

A group of Hamilton agencies working to end violence against women launched a local campaign Tuesday as part of a larger provincial initiative encouraging bystanders to take action against threats of sexual violence.

The Women Abuse Working Group (WAWG) produced a community video as part of Sexual Violence Awareness Month, and launched it as part of the provincial campaign Draw the Line.  Draw the line was created collaboratively by the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres http://www.sexualassaultsupport.ca/ and Action Ontarienne.

WAWG asked people why sexual violence awareness is important, and the video contains five minutes of their responses. The Draw the Line campaign describes itself as exploring the role of the bystander in helping to end sexual violence through intervention.

Tuesday’s launch, at the Immigrant Women’s Centre, included remarks by Hamilton Police Service Chief Glen DeCaire and WAWG Chair Natasha Dobler.

Getting bystanders to intervene

“The Draw the Line campaign invites us to think about everyday scenarios that contribute to a rape culture and encourages each of us to take action with helpful tips on how to intervene,” Dobler said.

Draw the Line, launched in May 2012, posts daily scenarios on Facebook and Twitter asking people to react to situations involving possible threats of sexual violence.

“We are trying to keep the Draw the Line message alive, and also represent the diversity of Ontarians,” said Valerie Sadler, chair of public awareness and education for WAWG. “It’s a provincial campaign that we are trying to bring to Hamilton.”

Sadler was pleased with Tuesday’s turnout and promoted educational videos in French, English and Spanish that address topics from cyber harassment to educating boys to become respectful men. 

“Each one of us comes upon these situations each and every day where somebody crosses the line or somebody says something, and we don’t do anything because we don’t know how to get involved,” Sadler said.