The last consent workshop for the school year, hosted by the Anti-Violence Project (AVP), will be held on April 7. This year, the AVP began hosting consent workshops once a month as opposed to their old model of a by-request basis. Over the summer, they will temporarily revert back to this by-request basis before resuming in September on a monthly schedule.
“The workshop consists of identifying the foundations of sexualized violence, and also debunking some of the myths that go around sexualized violence,” said Piotr Burek, the Team Leader for the AVP. “That leads into a discussion on how to practice consent and what meaningful consent looks like.”
The workshops are free and provide education, skills, and opportunities to students and members of the public on the practices of consent. Topics such as what consent is and why it is required, as well as broader topics such as gender-based violence, sex positivity, and privilege are all discussed.
“AVP tries really hard to take a prevention-based approach,” said meg neufeld, the Program Assistant at AVP. “For example, although we support self-defence classes and those sorts of things, AVP doesn’t hand out rape whistles, or have self-defence classes, because we’re based on shifting the culture so that sexualized violence doesn’t have to happen.” neufeld pointed out that the AVP is the only sexual assault centre on a campus in B.C. that does prevention based work.
According to Burek, one of the most widely held myths surrounding gender-based violence, one that AVP works to debunk, is that of “stranger danger.” While many assume that sexual assault will occur on a dark path, or in an alley by a stranger, the reality is that most assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, and either in a car or at home. “They’re not in the public so there isn’t anyone around most times to intervene,” said Burek. “That’s why we have to intervene in the structural foundational things like sexism and patriarchy.”
While the AVP is largely volunteer-run, the current volunteer staff is the largest it’s ever been, according to neufeld. Despite this, the project is running at full capacity and seeing large turnouts each month. While they are always trying to do more, neufeld says they are interested in creating a follow-up workshop for next year. “Lots of people who go through the first one are excited to have conversations about it. In many ways, it’s a basic introduction to the conversation. Once you get started on it, there’s a lot more complexity,” they said.
To register for a workshop, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit antiviolenceproject.org.