Documenting date rape

University of Calgary student Leah Kenyon is receiving praise for her recently completed documentary on drug-facilitated sexual assault.


Kenyon, who is pursuing a degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Film Studies, wrote and produced the documentary, Entitled, while fulfilling her position as Associate Producer at NUTV this past summer. With a running time of 30 minutes, the film explores the issue of drug-facilitated sexual assault and dispels the myths that surround it.


"I think people find it hard to watch," said Kenyon. "It’s not a feel-good documentary."


The message conveyed by the documentary is one of caution. All of the date rape drugs available today are found in Calgary, and it is not just one specific drug running rampant out there. Her research indicates alcohol is almost always present in sexual assault cases, and is often the only drug present. It is imperative to not only watch your drink at all times, but to watch how much you consume.


Entitled also forces the viewer to question any former assumptions they may have had regarding sexual assault, including where and how it happens and who it happens to.


"Always make sure you are in good company," urged Kenyon. "Drug-facilitated assault can happen anywhere, whether it be a club or a house party."


The film contains interviews with six field experts on sexual assault, including an RCMP officer, a detective with Calgary Police Services Sex Crime Unit, a forensic specialist, a toxicologist, the president of Drink Safe Canada and a counselor from Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse.


CCASA put Kenyon in contact with two survivors of sexual assault who also appeared in the documentary. These survivors wanted their stories heard no matter how painful it was reliving their traumatic experiences. Though only the hands of each victim are seen, their message is powerful: date rape can happen to anyone, and every precaution must be taken in order to prevent it.


Although the anonymous victims interviewed in the documentary were both women in their early 20s, the documentary discredits the popular belief that females are the only victims of drug-facilitated assault. There have been a number of reported cases of heterosexual men raping other men. According to Kenyon, for many of the perpetrators it is about the power, not the sex.


Kenyon broadens the viewer’s scope by paying close attention to the issue of consent, and the difficulty defining it. The very name of the documentary is in reference to the misplaced sense of entitlement the perpetrator has towards sex.


"Even though an individual has given off certain signals," she said. "If there is any discrepancy over consent, then it has not been given."


The documentary urges anyone who suspects they have been sexually assaulted, with or without the use of drugs, to seek immediate medical attention.


Her involvement as a volunteer with NUTV, the U of C’s campus and community television station, Kenyon was awarded a summer internship as an associate producer. The job required her to make an independent film, resulting in Entitled.


After the painstaking process of researching the topic, conducting interviews and editing nine hours of video down to a mere 30 minutes, Kenyon completed the project in late August. Following her return to Calgary after a brief vacation, she was overwhelmed by the attention she received for Entitled. The Calgary Herald ran an article on Kenyon’s film earlier this month.


"I was just glad that I was able to raise awareness about the issue," commented Kenyon.


Kenyon is currently having the documentary professionally dubbed for submission to potential broadcasters, as well as film festivals.


The Calgary Public Library, the Calgary Board of Education, and the Canadian Association for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment in Higher Education, along with a number of on-campus organizations, have shown interest in purchasing a copy of the video.


Entitled will air Sept. 14 to 25 on NUTV, ch. 78. Show times are Sundays at 9 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 p.m.


Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the documentary can contact Kenyon at lgkenyon@ucalgary.ca.

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