In December 2013, Hollaback! Ottawa and its grassroots community partners, wrote an open letter to the women of Ottawa
about a rash of reported sexual assaults by a “serial rapist”. The goal of the letter was to counteract archaic, ineffective and oppressive “safety tips” that place the onus on women to be safe, rather than acknowledging the systemic nature of sexual violence.
These “safety tips” are unfortunately not unique to Ottawa. Versions of them are repeated in communities across the country on a daily basis.
This has inspired femifesto and collaborators to make our own tip sheet on how to avoid sexual assault.
femifesto: Sasha Elford, Shannon Giannitsopoulou, Farrah Khan
Collaborators: Rebecca Faria, Stephanie Guthrie, Julie Lalonde, Chanelle Gallant and Lisa Mederios
End #rapeculture & #victimblaming.
Safety Tips Released By the Ottawa Police:
"Ottawa Police have issued safety tips on their website to help females protect themselves:
- Try not to walk alone at night but if you do, be alert and avoid dark or isolated areas. Instead, walk out in the open, away from walls, doorways and pillars.
- Whether you are walking or driving, determine the safest route before you leave. Take the longest route if that is the safest.
- Tell friends or family members where you’re going, and then let them know when you reach your destination.
- Have your key ready as you approach your house or vehicle.
- Don’t enter environments where you feel unsafe. Trust your instincts.
- Know your physical capabilities and limitations.
- Don’t carry offensive weapons such as knives. They may be used against you.
Ottawa Police say if you suspect you are being followed:
- Cross the street or walk on the side of the road.
- Go immediately to the nearest well-lit or populated area.
- If others are within hearing distance, turn to the person following you and say in a loud and assertive voice: “Stop following me!”
- Contact Police immediately—go to a house or a store and call the Police or flag down a taxi and ask the driver to call the Police for you.
- If the person following you is driving a car, take out a pen and paper, look at the licence plate and write the number down, making sure that the driver sees you do this.
Ottawa Police say if you are attacked:
- Try to remember the complexion, body build, height, weight, age, and type of clothing worn by the attacker. If possible, write down the information while it is still fresh in your memory.
- If an attacker is after your purse or other valuables, don’t resist. If you have the opportunity, throw your purse away from you to the distance the attacker from you.”