• Women at Home
    and Women
    at Work

    Have you ever wondered what goes through someone’s mind when they are asked the dreaded cocktail hour..

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  • A Just World?

    I was raped. It was no urban legend. No deranged stranger jumped out of a dark alley to attack me on my way home from bible study...

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  • Wellness and You

    Work gets in the way, family gets in the way, volunteer commitments get in the way, and occasionally the television and sofa get in the way too...

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Panty Raid

It has recently come to my attention that some women coordinate their bras and panties. And they don't just match colours, they buy the sets together...

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Florence Booth House, Toronto

Located in the downtown core, Florence Booth House was opened in 2000 with the intent of being a temporary shelter for that winter. In February of this year, we celebrated our 7th anniversary, proving the need is still very real...

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Champagne with Potato Chips?

You really can drink wine with just about anything, according to a new web site devoted to food and wine pairings. Zinfandel with your Tex-Mex? Not a problem. A little Chardonnay with your fried chicken take-out? Delicious. Pinot Noir and wild boar? Why not, says Natalie MacLean...

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News & Events

Eating Between the Lines: Health and Literacy (Connections for Canadians)

42% of Canadians struggle with basic reading and writing. The International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) (1995;2003) shows strong links among literacy skills, employment and poverty, and thus health...

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Think Before You Go Pink

The Breast Cancer Action (BCA) group wants consumers to think about how much money is actually going to the “cure” before purchasing something with a little pink ribbon on it...

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Do you Fancy Cat Sitting

My ideal holiday involves sun, by a pool, a never-ending supply of chilled diet coke, and a sky-high pile of novels to read while the stresses of home and school evaporate...

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A Just World?



I was raped. It was no urban legend. No deranged stranger jumped out of a dark alley to attack me on my way home from bible study. I was raped, as most survivors are, by someone who I knew-- a boy who had been my friend for several years and who I had recently been dating. There were no warning signs, no red flags. I did not see it coming and even after the deed had been done, it was about a week before I realized what had happened and much longer before I’d admit it to anyone.

We all want to believe that we live in a just world-- that people get what they deserve. This notion plays an important function in our lives, since when we’re planning for the future we need to assume that our actions will have predictable outcomes. Sounds logical enough doesn’t it? However, when we encounter something in the world that is not just or predictable, we quickly attempt to find a way to justify the occurrence so that we can regain our sense of comfort. We decide that the rape victim must have asked for it or that the welfare recipient is simply lazy. After all, if we accept the situation as being bad luck or that the victim could never have seen it coming, then we would also have to accept the fact that it could happen to us.

My experiences after being raped would have made a great case study for the “Just World” hypothesis. As I began to tell my closest friends about what had happened, I began to lose a lot of them. They told me I simply wasn’t the person they thought I was. There were whispers and gossip about what had “really” happened. My virtue was questioned and sympathy was given to my attacker. When it came time to make the decision about reporting the attack to the police, I knew that I couldn’t do it. If my own friends would blame me for the rape then I couldn’t expect that a jury of strangers would do anything more. My pride would simply not allow me to sit in a courtroom and have the justice system tell me that he wasn’t guilty for what he did.

So I kept quiet, as many survivors do, not wanting to stand out and make myself a target for more rumors. While I have rarely spoken of the events of that night six years ago, rape and sexual assault remains an issue about which I am especially passionate. Upon finding other survivors, I eagerly ask questions about their experiences particularly concerning how they view the justice system. I wanted to believe that I was the only one who had chickened out by not reporting my attack and that other women were braver than I and had received justice.

However, in talking with other survivors, I began to realize how normal I actually was. Few even considered reporting their attack, not wanting to open themselves up for public scrutiny and idle gossip. In one case where the survivor had been given Rohypnol, she did not remember enough about the attack or her attacker to help the police find her rapist. Only one of the fifteen or so women who I spoke to about their experiences actually reported their rape to police and went to trial. Her case was eerily like my own and unfortunately she had to live through my worst fear-- being told that her attacker was not guilty.

The optimist in me would like to find some sort of silver lining to all of this or at least offer something constructive on the issue. Instead, I am left feeling somewhat philosophical about the concept of a just world. We would all like to think of ourselves as good people and that we live in a world which is, for the most part, a just one.

However, in our efforts to maintain our own psychological comfort we often deny justice to those who need it the most. Perhaps if anything is to be done to really address the issue of sexual violence against women, we must take the uncomfortable step of realizing and accepting that it can happen to us--that it does happen to us.