Our services are available to all women who have experienced male violence including wife battering, incest, rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and prostitution.
We are the longest standing rape crisis centre in Canada. Since 1973, our group has responded to close to 46,000 women seeking our support in their escape from male violence. Since we opened our transition house in 1981, we have housed over 3,000 women and over 2,600 children.
The operation of our rape crisis centre and transition house are forms of direct action, developed for women by women in the 1970s as a part of the second wave of the North American women’s movement. More than just providing immediate safety, we offer a place to group, analyze, strategize and fight back against male violence.
In addition to our frontline work, we put a substantial effort into public education, as it’s an essential tool for social change. We are intentional in organizing public education events that are free, open and accessible to all.
We are also active in national women’s equality reforms. In the past few years we appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada as intervener in the case of the murder of Cindy Gladue; we conducted cross examinations and made oral and written submissions as a party with standing at the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls; and we spoke to the House of Commons and to the Senate of Canada on legislative reforms related violence against women.
We provide assistance to women and girls in prostitution who have been assaulted by johns, pimps or men pressuring them into prostitution. We provide assistance to women who are currently being prostituted, women who are trying to escape prostitution, and women who have been trafficked into prostitution. Our services for women and girls in prostitution include crisis line support, transitional housing, accompanying women to the police, and helping them find immediate relief when faced with a situation of violence.
We wish to abolish (end) prostitution because we understand prostitution as sexual exploitation and male violence against women. Prostitution normalizes the subordination of women. It exploits and compounds systemic inequality on the basis of sex, race, poverty, age and disability.
Our analysis of prostitution as a harmful patriarchal institution and our commitment to abolition is derived from, and reinforced by, the prostituted women who call us and the members of our own collective who have exited prostitution.
Women in the sex trade do not need to agree to our terminology, or our analysis, or to exit the sex trade in order to receive our full services and our complete support.
Being born female still means being trained, socialized and forced to submit to male domination. The fact that we are born female and raised as girls into adult women shapes our lives in profound ways.
Male violence against us is one harsh and common experience, but it is not the only way our lives are impacted by being born female. Our sexuality is controlled and manipulated — whether by punishing women for not being virgins, or by the promotion of pornography and BDSM as liberating expressions of women’s sexuality. Our reproductive ability is controlled and manipulated — whether through forced abortion and sterilization, pressuring women to get pregnant, or forcing women’s pregnancy through rape.
Being girls and women in this world often impacts both how we look and how we act in private and in public; what we are allowed to do, encouraged to do, and rewarded for; and also, what we are discouraged from doing, prohibited to do, or punished for.
And from that place, in a woman-only space, with other women—who have the shared experience of being born without a choice to the oppressed class of women—we come together to organize and strategize our resistance and our fight for all women’s liberation.
We know that people whose behaviour is not consistent with the patriarchal socially imposed definition of manhood or womanhood, including trans people, suffer discrimination and violence. Trans people deserve and must live in safety, and have the equal rights and opportunities that are promised to us all. While some of our core services are not open to people who do not share our life experience of being born females and raised as girls into our current womanhood, we have a collective commitment to see to the safety anyone who calls our crisis line, including trans people.
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