The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa and the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women are organizations that have worked for decades on the front lines with women who experience violence in Ottawa. We work towards the eradication of violence against women and gender-based violence with an anti-racist and anti-oppressive inclusive framework. We want to emphasize the connections between state violence and interpersonal violence – connections that need to be discussed in light of the unjust death of Abdirahman Abdi. We urgently call for attention to his death.  It highlights that law enforcement responses are problematic towards communities of colour, and people with mental health or ability challenges. We need to do this in combination with calling attention to inadequate criminal justice system responses towards survivors of sexual violence.   These two types of violence can not be separated.

We know that survivors of sexual violence often encounter insurmountable barriers in seeking accountability in the criminal justice system. It has been well documented that less than 10% of survivors of sexual violence will report their experience to police, and that only fraction of these result in a conviction. [1] As front-line advocates, we often hear from survivors that their voices and opinions are not taken into account when reporting experiences of sexual violence. That they become a third party witness to the violence they were subjected to.  We want to acknowledge the flaws within the criminal justice system and police practices that fail survivors and members of the community. That is why we are critical of the police responses that resulted in Abdirahman Abdi’s death.

Historically, sexual violence has been used to defend racist actions—we have witnessed the vilification of indigenous, black and other communities of colour as more likely to be perpetrators of violence than their white counterparts. The recent report by the Ontario Ombudsman, released in June 2016, also points to the all too frequent deadly response that people with mental health and mental ability issues face when confronted by police. As a result, there is often a hesitancy within communities of colour to rely on policing and the criminal justice system for safety and accountability in situations of violence against women and gender-based violence. At the same time that these communities are over-policed, they are also more vulnerable to experiencing gender-based violence. Transwomen of colour, women with disabilities, indigenous women and women of colour are at a higher risk of violence.  The struggle to end gender-based violence and violence against women is not in opposition to the struggle to end racism and police brutality. Indeed, combatting racist violence is essential to building safer societies for all of us and to adequately supporting survivors. As anti-violence organizations, and members of the broader Ottawa community it is our responsibility to centre and prioritize the needs of these vulnerable communities.

Better supports and responses were needed for those who called the police to Bridgehead and for Abdirahman Abdi.  There needs to be resources and services separate from the police that people can turn to and that will not result in the escalation of violence. Survivors shouldn’t have to worry that reporting sexual violence will result in more violence. Racialized communities and people dealing with mental health issues shouldn’t have to worry that their interactions with police will result in death.

We strongly support the recommendations that have been put forth by organizations here today calling for accountability and stand in solidarity with all those affect by violence. As anti-violence advocates, we are calling for police responses and accountability frameworks to address sexual violence within a broader context of anti-black racism and systemic violence experienced within our communities. This also needs take into account the experience of those with mental health or ability challenges. We want a criminal justice system that recognizes and validates the experiences of survivors of sexual violence without perpetuating violence.

At SASC Ottawa we offer peer support counselling to survivors of sexual violence, if you are looking for support you can contact our office at 613-725-2160 ext 227 or call our support line 613-234-2266.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us,


In Solidarity,



Yamikani Msosa                                                    Erin Leigh

Sexual Assault Support Centre Ottawa         Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women




SASC in the Media: Anti-Black Racism in Ottawa

Today, our public education and media coordinator gave a speech regarding racism, oppression and lack of accountability by the police. The press conference was held in solidarity with the Coalition for Justice for Abdirahman and had many panelists speaking of their efforts and recommendations to end racism and oppression in Ottawa, to ensure that innocent lives like Mr. Abdi are not taken too soon. The live stream of the press conference can be found on the Justice for Abdirahman Facebook page.

Read about Abdi’s fatal encounter with Ottawa Police on


August 3, 2016

The newly formed coalition Justice for Abdirahman will be holding a press conference on Thursday, August 4, 2016 to provide a consolidated list of recommendations for all three levels of government, the Ottawa Police Service, the Ottawa Police Services Board, and responsible police oversight agencies, in light of the tragic death of Abdirahman Abdi. The coalition will be joined by community allies.

Justice for Abdirahman is an Ottawa-based coalition representing Somali community members and Somali organizations in Ottawa, and is supported by local and national advocacy groups. The objective of the coalition’s campaign is to obtain greater transparency, challenge racial inequity, and bring positive change in order to secure justice for Abdirahman.
WHERE:Ottawa City Hall, Councillor’s Lounge (2nd floor)
WHEN : Thursday, August 4, 2016
TIME:1 p.m. EST
WHY: To present key recommendations to all levels of government to address systemic gaps in how law enforcement agencies respond to vulnerable communities.

Survivor Speak Event – July 21st 2016


Survivor Speak was held on July 21st from 6-9pm at Kind Space. The event was an evening of healing and creating a space for survivors of sexual violence to share their experiences/stories, build community and crafting. Yamikani Msosa, Public Education Coordinator explained to Rogers TV details of the event!

Surivors speak  II


The Body Monolgues 2016

Come join us for an evening of performances from community members. A space for sharing and creating awareness and dialogue about our experiences in our bodies.

Tickets are $20
You can donate a community ticket to a person who would like to attend but do not have the means.

There will also be a cash bar, craft sale, silent auction and bake sale. All proceeds go to The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa and their services for women who have survived violence.

To buy tickets please visit eventbrite:

For more information about the Body Monologues:


Body Monologues Poster June 4 2016

Run with SASC!

EbOJekAZ_400x400Join other volunteers and community members at the 2016 Scotiabank Charity Challenge!

SASC’s page is up and running on the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend website! Anyone can sign up to be part of our team. Just sign up for the race (you can do any of the races – even the sold-out ones!) and click that you will be running as part of SASC (you can click our name under the Scotiabank Charity Challenge when you sign up). The site will let you set up your own fundraising page to post/email to your friends and family. You collect sponsorships and donations for your race and that money goes directly to SASC!

If you are not a runner, don’t worry! You can walk the race as well. A group of us will be walking the 5k together and it will be a lot of fun. Wheelchairs are welcome. Strollers are not but you can walk with kids or put them in a sling/carrier. The 5k is at 4pm on May 28th.

So what are you waiting for?! Sign yourself up!

Community Action: Big Thank-you to the “Man-Up Program”!

A big thank you to the Man-Up Program at Ridgemont High School for raising money for SASC! We were invited as special guests to come in and talk about consent and bystander intervention. We are so happy that these young men chose to spend their lunch hour talking about how to end sexual violence. What a fantastic group!