Updated: Jun 8
UPDATE: regarding the recent decision made by the Ontario Court of Appeal, it seems there has been a lot of misinformation about the ruling, primarily due to how it was presented in the media. Please visit these two links to learn more, prior to signing the petition: @fionaclairedoug & @youngwomxnlead
In February 2016, I experienced a series of instances of sexual harassment with a Toronto choreographer. In the fall of 2017, when the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke & the #metoo movement swelled in earnest, my whole world shifted & I saw my experience in a new light.
The following are resources I have consolidated for anyone else who has had experiences of sexual violence - no matter how small they may seem. I can tell you that while what happened to me was "basically nothing", it felt like a whole lotta something. It was enough that I couldn't dance with anyone, male or female, for nearly three years. It was enough that I still feel sick when I see him. It was enough that I walked out of a performance, in efforts to protest his work. It was enough that I still feel my stomach drop when dancers post class footage on Insta. Even four years later. Even though it was "basically nothing".
I have kept these resources Toronto & Ontario-specific, as I recognize an immediate need for resources within the Toronto dance community. I have pulled together:
Crisis Phone Lines - that you can call for immediate support
Organizations - that provide counselling, information, & legal services
Articles - that helped me better understand what I was experiencing & the structures & systems that we must work to undo for progress to truly be made.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the information at hand, start with the TRCC/MWAR: Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape. They have a 24/7 crisis line that is available - 416-597-8808 - & have free counselling services that can help you get the support you need. I know how terrifying it is to speak up, to talk to a stranger. I promise you that they are the kindest, most wonderful humans, & they are professionally trained to address your needs with compassion & empathy.
Where are the dance organizations? Unfortunately, they are not yet equipped with the ability to help in the ways that are needed. Let's hope they are able to soon. For now, I hope the following resources can support you.
Please note that the intention of this post is simply to help point you in the right direction & to assure you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. ❤️
With all my love,
1-866-863-0511 Assaulted Women's Helpline
1-855-554-HEAL Talk4Healing, for Indigenous Women
1-866-887-0015 Male Survivors of Sexual Violence
686868 Text Kids Help Phone
Draw the Line: engaging Ontarians in a dialogue about sexual violence.
Generator: Transform Dance - a project about finding ways into healing and transformation... within the dance sector in Toronto.
Generator: Harassment Resources Toronto
OCRCC: Ontario Coalition for Rape Crisis Centres
Ontario.ca: a commitment from our province
The Schlifer Clinic: legal, counselling and interpretation services to marginalized populations of women who have survived violence.
Support Services for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse: 24/7 support for men + counselling services & peer support
Talk4Healing: 24/7 support for Indigenous women, available in 14 Indigenous languages
TRCC/MWAR: Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape
Women's College Hospital: 24/7 Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre
ARTICLES - articles marked with a * are dancer/performing artist specific:
"And so you might conclude that you need to redeem the encounter within a narrative that you may not like but in which you can at least actively participate. This might mean engaging in consensual sex afterward, to make you feel like you wanted it the first time, though you know you didn’t. Or staying friendly with the man in the hopes that you’ll find out that he actually did value you, and he wasn’t just hoping for access to your body. Or even trying to get something out of the transaction, whatever you can. This looks like weakness, but it’s an attempt to gain control."
"These men are not ever that big of a deal. What they do to us is never really that bad in the grand scheme of things, no matter how big it feels at the time. It could always have been much worse. We might just have been misreading the situation. They might not have meant anything by it. They’ve never apologized — but then again, we’ve never asked them to."
"...if an artist has spent their entire lives learning that saying yes or being silent is the way to success and survival while training, how then do we expect them to speak up and say “no” to shitty conditions, to abuse, to sexual assault in the workplace?"
"For years, I described myself as someone who wasn’t prone to anger. “I don’t get angry,” I said. “I get sad.” I believed this inclination was mainly about my personality — that sadness was a more natural emotion for me than anger, that I was somehow built this way."
“The world of ballet is a fuzzy area, those involved say, in which people are regularly touching one another through choreography and instruction. An artistic leader like Mr. Martins looms large — particularly among up-and-coming, young dancers — as a producer who decides which ballets are performed; as a casting director who determines which dancers land the best parts; and as a father figure who designates dancers for promotion.”