Where to find support during the Jian Ghomeshi trial

Daily media coverage and constant social media updates can be triggering for survivors of sexual violence. Here’s where to get help


If only there was a mute button for the Internet.

While I can appreciate the daily media coverage – or circus, depending who you ask – of the Jian Ghomeshi trial, there is such a thing as too much noise.

And while live-Tweets from the courtroom can be useful, getting constant updates of the play-by-play, including witness testimonies and the way Ghomeshi happens to smile at his mother on any given day, is, quite frankly, disturbing.

For some people, including survivors of assault and sexual violence, all these updates can be triggering. It’s traumatic and upsetting and real. It’s a reminder to everyone why so many cases go unreported and why many survivors remain silent.

As Windsor Law professor David M. Tanovich noted on Twitter on February 1, the day the trial started, live-tweeting is “reproducing violence without consent.”

So what can you do?

It’s possible to avoid social media during trial times, which usually falls between 10 am and 4 pm on weekdays. You can also practice self-care, which can include positive self-talk, mediation and talking to people who care about you.

There are also helplines and crisis centres, and communities that believe you and support you.

We’ve listed some below.

Sexual Assualt/Domestic Violence Care Centre at Women’s College Hospital

The centre provides acute care, follow-up, counselling and resources to survivors of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence. The centre is women, men and trans inclusive and a nurse is available 24 hours a day.

Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre at the Scarborough Hospital

Twenty-four hour acute care is offered at both TSH campuses to survivors of sexual assault and partner violence, and follow-up counseling is provided through a partnership with Scarborough Centre for Health Communities. This centre is women, men and trans inclusive.

Assaulted Women’s Helpline

This free, anonymous, confidential crisis helpline has been supporting women across Ontario for 30 years. Counsellors are available 24-hours a day to provide crisis counselling, safety planning, emotional support, information and referrals. People can call 416-863-0511, and 1-866-863-0511 for those outside the GTA.

Toronto Rape Crisis Centre

A 24-hour crisis line is available to survivors of rape, sexual assault, abuse and all forms of violence, as well as family and friends of survivors. Calls are free and confidential. People can call 416-597-8808 or be assisted by email: crisis@trccmwar.ca. Appointments to meet a counsellor in person can be made at 416-597-1171.

Women’s Support Network of York Region

The centre provides counselling programs for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, sexual harassment and assault, marital rape and other forms of violence. A free, confidential crisis line is also available at 905-895-7313, and toll-free at 1-800-263-6734.

Hope 24/7

For over 20 years, Hope 24/7 has supported survivors in the Peel region with in-person counselling services, workshops, therapeutic groups and a crisis helpline. Survivors of sexual violence can call the free 24-hour line at 1-800-810-0180.

University of Toronto Sexual Education Centre

The on-campus volunteer-run centre provides students with information, counselling and emergency referrals related to sexual assault and violence. A list of all services can be accessed here.

Ryerson University Office for Sexual Violence Support and Education

The office provides awareness-building, education, training, support and response to sexual violence for Ryerson students. Survivors can access information and support, and the office is a safe, inclusive space on campus.

York University Sexual Assault Survivors’ Support Line

Survivors of sexual violence can call the free, 24-hour crisis line at 416-650-8056 or email sassl@yorku.ca. A list of more on-campus resources, including counselling and the Centre for Women and Trans People at York University, can be accessed here.

Other helpful resources:

Femifesto’s Use the Right Words

This free, online guide provides tools for media reporting on sexual violence in Canada.

METRAC

The local anti-violence organization recently developed a free subscription-based service called Safety Information System that alerts users of sexual violence.

michelled@nowtoronto.com | @michdas

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