In early July of this year, egregious advertisements against sexual assault started popping up in SkyTrains around the city of Vancouver. While I totally support bringing awareness to the reality of sexual assault and encouraging those affected to step forward to hopefully prevent future incidents, there was something totally off about this particular ad. The poster read, “If it doesn’t feel right, then it’s wrong.” This part seems fairly harmless, just putting it out there that if someone does something that makes you feel uncomfortable, you should address the problem. I am okay with that.

Where the advertisement goes completely off track is in the next part. The following portion of the ad reads, “Not reporting sexual assault is the real shame.” Let that sink in for a little bit. Are you serious? It is NOT okay to have advertisements, let alone in a public place, shaming the victims of sexual assault. According to the wording of the advertisement, I was wrong all of this time, thinking the real shame is that people are still committing sexual assault.

Soon after the ads were put up, Translink received several messages via social media criticizing the advertisement. Several complaints lead to hundreds of the advertisements being taken down from SkyTrains around Vancouver. While those who made the ad were most likely not planning to create something that promoted victim shaming, it still happened. And it is still happening.

Victim shaming is real and it needs to stop. No one is asking for it, and there are forms of it that are way too normalized in our society. I am still saddened by the message that the ad portrayed, however I am grateful that there are women and men who will step forward to change the attitudes toward victims of sexual assault.

(Image via CBC and Shutterstock)