A Touch Of Sexual Assault

By: Kayley Dixon

Human Rights , Artist

Sexual violence is a complicated issue because it ranges from harassment (with whistle-blowing and name calling), to assault (with any intentional use of force against you without consent). Either way, these acts are a violation of your sexual integrity and have long-lasting effects on your self-esteem and overall wellness.

In Nova Scotia, where I live, simple assault crimes carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. While no physical injury is necessary to prove that such an offense has occurred, sexual-assault crimes are under-reported, primarily because conviction rates are so low. A recent survey found that 88% of sexual assaults in Canada were not reported to police.

Sexual violence is a serious health, social and public safety issue for any community. Women and girls are the primary victims, at a rate of 84% in Nova Scotia. Those of us between the ages of 15 and 24 are at the highest risk of being a victim

Overall, the justice system is viewed to be lacking healing-centered care. There are a lot of gaps and barriers in services and supports. More importantly, my own community in North Dartmouth is hyper-critical of the police. 

I feel like the moment we start describing the place in which we live as “bad” is when we lose hope in trying to end violence. 

After seeing a Facebook post which “hated” on my community, I took action. I proclaimed that I would not live in fear, that I would live with love and respect. My comments struck a chord with Facebook users, bringing in almost 900 likes and 200 shares overnight

Having volunteered with the Take Action Society, a nonprofit organization which leads positive change in my community, and serving as Ambassador to the Youth Arts Leadership Program, I have learned how powerful the arts can be in shifting people’s perspectives on world and societal issues.

"A touch of sexual assault” is a “spoken word” performance which was filmed during a government announcement of $6-million in public funding for 11 community groups in Nova Scotia that address sexual violence. The video went viral with over 15-million viewers online in a matter of weeks. There's now over 35.5-million views! 

This piece is important for the world to hear because it voices what women and young girls go through every single day. This happens & we need to start taking it seriously. Everyone shuts down when they hear the word "rape" or "sexual assault" because they are deemed such controversial topics. We need to normalize these conversations so that we can become educated to find solutions instead of normalizing these actions.

Having been a spoken word artist since the 8th grade, the art form has definitely helped people to hear my voice especially, because the way spoken word is delivered is so intriguing and unique. I use spoken word to voice numerous issues such as the impact of texting on interpersonal communication, standing up against community stigma, and other general societal issues. I was recently named "brand ambassador" for a movement & brand called "stop the violence spread the love" which focuses on spreading love through acts of kindness and raising awareness, in hopes to reduce violence.

Besides spoken word, I've evoked change by using visual arts.  I've done some visual art for mental illness awareness, and am currently working on big community art projects that will hopefully make a very big impact, and a very big statement in my community and beyond.

Team Members

  • Kayley Dixon

    Founder

    I've always been one to speak out. I voiced my opinions a lot, even when I was in elementary school! In grade seven, (when I was about 12) I developed a more broad perspective on the world and my community. In class we'd learn about different forms of human suffering and I could hardly listen because I was squirming with anger at the fact that I have such a privileged life while grave injustices were happening to other people in our world. I began to research more, and get educated on how I would make change in the world. I found my passion for spoken word and began using that to voice my opinions and express my views of the world, and ways we can possibly solve these issues.

Impact

Advice for my peers

START YOUNG: I think what I am doing is powerful, because it is giving a voice to the voiceless. Especially the fact that I am so young, a 14 year old girl in today's society speaking on these issues. It is very eye opening, & in my opinion is quite realistic and scary, because this is showing the world that these are the realities for women, and even girls my age and YOUNGER. I've experienced catcalling & other things such as fear to walk on sidewalks by myself when a man walks by, since I was 10 years old. That is the truth of our world today, and a young persons voice was finally heard and I'm very thankful for that, and thankful that I was able to be the voice that was heard.

BE CONTROVERSIAL: I think my video went viral because of the fact that I am a young girl speaking on a topic that is so controversial and so deep. There are so many arguments, opinions, and stigma surrounding the topic of sexual violence and the fact that a young girl spoke about it, and from what people have commented, spoke so "strongly" about it, people seem to be so taken back and seem to be really listening this time.

PARTNER WITH A VOICE OF AUTHORITY: The "Touch of Sexual Assualt" video was actually recorded by "CBC Nova Scotia" who was there recording the day I gave the speech, and they posted it on their Facebook page and it just completely blew up from there. Eventually, other sites, Facebook pages, etc... started picking it up, and it's everywhere now.

AMPLIFY YOUR VOICE: Social media is one of the biggest keys in today's society. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc... in my opinion, they are essential for spreading the message. Many people from my community, school, and all across the world have been messaging/commenting/personally coming to me and thanking me for speaking out, and even sharing some of their stories with me & asking me advice. I think I've influenced people in a very positive way and probably have given hope, and courage for those that have experienced similar things or even just want to educate others on the topic, to stand up and speak out.

USE YOUR OWN ARTFORM AS THE VEHICLE FOR CHANGE: The art of spoken word may have played a big part in the reason it went viral because of the uniqueness of the poem and the way the words were used and related to one another. People are usually attracted to rhyming words more than your traditional speech because like I said, it is more unique, and even more powerful because of the way it is delivered. There is more emotion backing it. The culture surrounding spoken word is all about emotion, support, and generally a strong message. Using spoken word is a great way to have your voice be heard, so I encourage people to try it out, and remember there is no specific way to poetry and art. That's the beauty of it. It's whatever you want it to be and however you want people to see and hear it. But obviously you should use whatever artform that you feel will spark some interest!

EMPOWER YOURSELF: I've learned that all you have to do is have strength in yourself and empower yourself to speak out on whatever you are passionate about. Never let negative people or comments deter you from your goals, especially to help others because there are so many more people that love what you're doing, than "hate" it. There are always going to be a range of opinions but as long as you focus on the positive ones and always focus on your goals than you will succeed in whatever you want to do, especially if that includes a social movement. Never back down & keep standing up for change.

PLAN FOR THE FUTURE: In the future I may eventually start maybe a group, or a brand, etc... Of people that want their voices to be heard, or even to talk together about issues the world faces. I'm already thinking of doing community art projects or "statements" that will hopefully get more people involved.


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