Take Back the Night 2016 by dillon black

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Content Warning: Long ramble & discussion of sexual violence, disclosure & violence. I talk a bit about my own experience, I name it, so just please do take care <3

Tonight is TakeBack the Night 2016. This event has been & remains still one of the most powerful & hardest days of the year for me and so many other survivors I know for so many reasons. A few years ago I wrote this for TBTN & I think it’s worth holding on to some of these thoughts as the issues change and yet stay the same.

I also want to take a moment to be a bit vulnerable here & acknowledge Feminism’s complicity in perpetuating harm in our communities. I want to acknowledge that so often trans feminine voices, indigenous people, non-binary folks, sex workers, HIV positive folks, queer people, migrant folks, racialized people, and other marginalized people are excluded, trivialized and isolated from these spaces. That while patriarchy & systems of oppression require the active erasure of these bodies and identities, Feminism should not. This is NOT what my feminism & anti-violence work is about & it is something we all need to reflect & deconstruct.

You know, I have a hard time telling my story.

I was 20 then.. I’m 29 now. Some things don’t change. But I know that I have.

It doesn’t necessarily get easier, but I think you get stronger.

I’m always caught between a moment of ‘is it relevant?’ to ‘I’m not a victim & I don’t want to be silent or silenced’. Other times I think to myself, I wish people would care about sexual assault and rape regardless of whether or not I decide to share my story.

It shouldn’t take any more sexual assaults or rapes for people to listen, to become engaged, and to do something about this.

But I also think and know deep down in my heart that there is something so powerful and energizing when survivors come forward and tell their stories of resilience, reclamation and survival.

After all- this is what today is about.

Late one night, when I was in my first year at Carleton University, I was walking to my car after class, which was located in one of the furthest lots, and there I was raped by three men.

There I said it. It’s not the first time that I say this but it doesn’t mean that it gets any easier. For me, everyday feels like that day, in some small irrelevant way.

Like when I see a car that resembles the one from that night, or when I smell cologne that reminds me of that night. When I walk in the tunnels at school, or along the safe path that never feels safe to me. When people say rape jokes and think they are funny. When young men carry signs on campus telling parents to drop off their daughters. When people tell me that rape and sexual assault is not an issue on our campuses. When hard working and passionate students, faculty and professors are shut down for taking a stand against sexual violence. When people rip down posters for the sexual assault support line. When the waitlists in health & counselling are so long to get support. When nobody steps in to intervene when they witness moments of rape culture. When people tell survivors that their stories are not even believable.

Because.. “Who would want to rape someone like you?”

These are my daily reminders. And I know I’m not alone in this even if I can’t quite convey the enormity of that night, or this epidemic.

Sexual violence does not just happen at night. It does not just happen when a stranger decides that he wants to harass or attack women. It happens in our homes, in our friendships and relationships, in our communities and on our campuses.

It happens when we feel like our voices and our bodies don’t matter.

It happens when we exist and live within a system that is deeply rooted in rape culture. A culture that normalizes and trivializes sexual violence. A culture that blames survivors for their choices and supports rapists.

A culture in which most rapes are never reported, because victims know they’re likely to be ridiculed, dismissed, and/or raked over the coals by everyone from law enforcement to their own families, supports rapists.

A culture in which a small fraction of reported rapes are ever prosecuted, and of those that are, a much smaller fraction result in a conviction, supports rapists.

A culture where there are unlikely to be any real social consequences. For as much as we claim to deplore rape and rapists, when it comes down to it, from U of Cambridge to Jian Ghomeshi, from Amanda Todd to Rehtaeh Parsons, from Ray Rice to the University of Ottawa Hockey Team, we too often rally to defend men credibly accused of rape, dismiss the existence of rape culture, and to tear down survivors as vindictive liars, ‘crazies’, and ‘sluts’.

Gender-based violence is certainly not a new issue. Rape is everywhere today. I mean, 20-25% of university-aged women will experience sexual assault at some point in their academic careers. And 80% of sexual assault happens by someone known to the victim.

These statistics are people’s lives, and they are trying to tell us something.

Because so many of us have our own daily reminders.

As a movement to end gender based violence and rape culture we need to focus on what rape culture means for survivors and the rest of us who need to become engaged in preventing this. We need to start speaking more loudly about the fact that a rape culture and gender based violence is not just an unjust culture for survivors; it is an unsafe one for everyone.

Do we really want to live in that world?

We need to see that rape culture hurts all of us and that ending it has the possibility to empower us. We must build & work together to do this. We need to hold each other & our communities accountable because hope and transformative change rests on community.

Community which requires critical awareness of the work we must all continually do to undermine everything we’ve ever learned that leads us to behave in ways that keeps gender-based violence & rape culture alive.

We all have the power to change this- not just empowerment but real power.


Dillon Black

Mandatory Charging in Ontario

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Hey folks,

just a friendly reminder to not expect your friends, loved ones, or even those you don’t know to report to the police when experiencing violence. There are so many reasons why a person who is experiencing violence might not want to call the police. And ultimately, we need to build a community that takes the lead from the survivor.

Please don’t tell your friends that they have to or should report to the police, and please don’t isolate your friends/loved ones because you might not understand what they’re going through.

One reason why a person might no want to report intimate partner violence to the police is because of the “Mandatory Charging” protocol in Ontario.

“Mandatory charging” means that police officers in Ontario have to lay criminal charges in domestic violence cases if they have reasonable reasons to believe that violence/abuse has taken place.

When police arrive at the scene, they are supposed to separate the people who are fighting, make sure any children are safe, gather evidence (proof) and interview each person separately to find out what happened.

Often times it can be very difficult to understand the context, intent and affect of intimate partner violence making “making charging” even more complicated.

If there is evidence that violence/abuse took place, the police are supposed to charge the “dominant aggressor” (the person who was mainly responsible for the violence).

However, the mandatory charging policy can often result in many unintended consequences and this has the most impact for folks from marginalized communities. Because:

-The policy is mainly dependent on police officers’ discretion and depending on the officer, can be open to abuse and manipulation.

-Mandatory charging policies seem to have led to an increase in dual arrests, in which police find reasonable grounds to charge both the abuser and the victim. This is especially true for queer and trans communities where patterns of power and control are very complex and where police officers lack training in understanding these issues.

-Many women are placed at a higher risk of retaliation from their abuser if charges are laid. Because of this, some women may decide not to call the police, even if their safety is at risk.

-Many women in a single-income home lose their only means of support if their partner/spouse is charged and/or put in jail. This means that some women may decide not to call the police, even if their safety is at risk.

-Immigrant women or women whose abusers are immigrants are negatively impacted by mandatory charging. Even with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy around immigration status, women may not call the police because they fear their partner will be deported.

The Inside Scoop on Ottawa’s New Vegan Coffee Shop.

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@littlejoberrys is opening at 1305 Wellington St. W. on March 19.


“Our vision for the shop…We have a really dreamy idea of where we see the shop going. Having my own place was always the big idea growing up. But I imagined the day to day through the relationships I would form. I envisioned it being more about my interactions with my patrons than anything else. I always worked in coffee shops, so I’ve always had that experience. Getting to know the regulars, watching kids grow up, seeing relationships form. So naturally, it is very important for us to create that atmosphere in our space. We want our shop to grow with the community and be shaped by its regulars. We want our space to feel like a neighbourhood space, a shop you feel warm and tender about. Having that bond with customers and that loyalty is the most important thing for us at LJB’s.”


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Little Jo Berry’s

‪#‎queering613‬ ‪#‎ottcity‬ ‪#‎ottawafoodies‬ ‪#‎canqueer‬ ‪#‎vegan‬ ‪#‎yum‬

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A Little Bit of Queer History at the Lord Elgin.

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Happy 75th to the Lord Elgin Hotel. A little bit of our queer history is in there!

“The Lord Elgin is pictured in 1973. A gay bar in the hotel was thriving in a period when admitted homosexuality could get you fired, jailed, publicly shamed and even shunned by your own family, writes Kelly Egan.

The Lord Elgin turns 75 this year, and doesn’t the old doll hide a few polished pearls behind the ageless grey face and royal lineage?

The landmark hotel — Mackenzie King’s limestone aspiration — was for many years home to a gay bar, in an era when, officially, there were no gay bars because, legally, there were no gay men.

But the nameless beer hall sure existed, so much so that historians — scholarly or first-hand — say the basement bar was part of the city’s gay tapestry during a period of tectonic social change in Ottawa, if not all of Canada.
The bar, after all, was thriving in a period when admitted homosexuality could get you fired, jailed, publicly shamed and even shunned by your own family.”


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