Asking Difficult Questions

by Jo Dusome

For far too long, survivors of sexual assault and harassment have felt shame or embarrassment in discussing their stories. I wanted to use my Stretch Experience to change the narrative we have created when it comes to talking about consent and what it means to be a survivor.

I am using my summer project to create an online safe space to talk about sexual violence and consent called Come Talk to Me. This project has been in the back of my mind for years now, and thanks to the support from the Peter Lougheed Leadership College, this summer I am able to finally set the wheels in motion. So far, I have spent dozens of hours reading and researching qualitative interviewing and sexual assault, planning and preparing for in-person interviewing, and designing the online webpage for Come Talk to Me to make it safe, accessible, and full of cool features. Learning how to tactfully and respectfully interview people on such a sensitive topic has been one of the biggest hurdles to jump in establishing my project. I’ve learned so much, yet I still feel I have so much to learn!

Though it felt my project took a while to start, due to ethics board reviews and concerns, now that I have started, the momentum is picking up! I’ll be doing one-on-one interviews through all of July and August to collect personal stories and experiences regarding consent, harassment in the workplace, domestic violence, drugging, and many other topics that have long been touted as “taboo”. When all my research is collected, I will compose them into blog posts for the website to go live in September, so that those who feel alone or like no one can relate to their experience have somewhere to turn.

If you, or anyone you know, wants to anonymously share their experience with sexual violence or rape culture, I can be contacted at dusome@ualberta.ca, and would love to hear from you!

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