Use the Right Words - femifesto
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Use the Right Words

In recent  years, there has been a swell in coverage about sexual violence in mainstream Canadian media. We have seen media coverage of the reports of social media exchanges that incite sexual violence, social media groups targeting women students, the Jian Ghomeshi court case, and the almost 1200 murdered and missing Indigenous women.

Mainstream media has the power to shape conversations about violence in our communities. News stories about sexual violence affect the way we think about it. This tool was created in recognition of the power media has in shaping understandings of sexual violence, and to support those who work in the media as they navigate covering sexual violence. Use the Right Words provides the language and frameworks required to report on sexual violence in ways that do not shame or blame survivors.

Use the Right Words includes information on sexual violence, resources for journalists (e.g. Checklist when Reporting on Sexual Assault, and Tipsheet: 10 Essential Tips on Interviewing Survivors of Sexual Assault), infographics and statistics on sexual violence, all informed by survivors, journalists, anti gender-based violence advocates, lawyers and community members from across Canada.  

We hope that this guide will be a valuable tool and resource for journalists, media makers, community organizers, educators, and others who want to think, talk, and write about how we can shift from rape culture to consent culture in Canada. This is a multi-purpose tool can be used in several ways:

  • finding tips for specific language or frameworks to use in a news article;
  • facilitating conversations or trainings with colleagues about responsible reporting on sexual violence;
  • mentoring new journalists on ways to report about sexual violence


However you use the guide, we hope that you take from Use the Right Words the resources and knowledge you need to contribute to a public discourse on sexual violence that is supportive of survivors. 



Thank you to our generous funder the Laidlaw Foundation for supporting this project through the Youth-Led Community Change program.

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Thank you Pomegranate Tree Group for their gracious support of the project through their Femtorship Program.

The outline and format of the Chicago Taskforce’s media toolkit served as one of the foundational resources for the original, draft version of this work, entitled Reporting on Sexual Assault: A Toolkit for Canadian Media, which we released in December 2013.