We Saw Something. We Said Something. They Heard Us.

Anne Drennan of the Vancouver Transit Police (VTP) called Shannon Fisher, Hollaback! Vancouver Team Lead, last night to apologize and say that the VTP will have the victim-shaming ads down by the end of the week as train cars return to service yards.

Anne spent the day calling everyone who complained about the ads to apologize for the harmful messaging. The VTP didn’t mean to blame victims, and they genuinely wish to encourage people — victims and bystanders — to report what they see as they feel comfortable and safe.

Anne invited Hollaback! Vancouver to be on a team with other women’s support groups to approve the copy on replacement ads. We said, yes!

Thanks to everyone who saw something and said something. Together we made change. Let’s keep using our voices until street harassment and the culture that supports it is no longer tolerated.

Thank you VTP for being swift and respectful. We’re thankful for the effort of the VTP, the See Something Say Something campaign, and the ways you’re willing to include us to make it as effective as possible. If you see something on transit, say something by texting 87-77-77.

And thanks to Lucia Lorenzi for her most excellent breakdown of what went wrong with these ads and the trickiness of language in her essay Lost in Translation: What The Vancouver Transit Police Advertisement Teaches Us About Language Use.

She finishes her essay with some punchy truth:

“But I cannot say it enough: reporting sexual assault is NOT a victim’s DUTY. It is one option, and it is the absolute right of the survivor to choose whichever option is safest and best for them. It is all too easy for those who have never had to report, or for whom reporting may have been relatively easy and/or offered justice/healing, that it is a simple and necessary task.” 

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