Victoria event space hires ‘consent captain’ to help prevent sexual assaults

A Victoria venue has hired a sexual health educator to be a “consent captain” at some of its events, a move that is expected to reduce harassment and non-consensual behaviour between patrons.

Tanille Geib, a Victoria sexual health educator and intimacy coach, is the first employee of her kind in Greater Victoria. The non-profit Victoria Multi-Cultural Society, which operates the Victoria Event Centre at 1415 Broad St., brought Geib into the fold to address the issue of consent among patrons during select events. Geib said she has been well received by guests during her first month of employment.

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“People are excited to have me around talking about consent and support,” she said. Geib has worked at several events, including an April 27 dance party run by the Crush Collective.

“Out of that we started working with Tanille to bring this further into our other nights that are generally more dance-floor-oriented,” said Chris Fretwell, bookings co-ordinator for the venue.

Geib spent several months researching her role to better understand the needs of the patrons. For the most part, her role is to educate, rather than police and enforce. She introduces herself to attendees during the course of the night, and makes it known she’s available should a situation warrant her attention. #ConsentMatters signs are visible throughout the venue, and Geib often stations herself at the door, so those entering the club can meet her personally before entering.

“It wasn’t borne out of any particular incident, there was just a general understanding that sexual harassment is still something that a lot of people experience in Victoria nightlife,” Fretwell said.

“We found ourselves in a position and with the desire to provide something different for that people who come here.”

Geib works with the venue’s security staff and other like-minded community groups, including the Karmik harm reduction collective and AIDS Vancouver Island’s safe sex crew. She also works with Island Sexual Health. The issue of sexual harassment in clubs is an ongoing issue that needs constant attention, Geib said.

“Being a person that can have courageous conversations without stigma, shame, guilt or judgment attached to it is a really important part of it,” she said. “I understand and have compassion and empathy for people who make mistakes.”

She’s on shift at the Victoria Event Centre Thursday through Saturday each week, and on other days when there are events where her presence might be helpful, Fretwell said.

“We look at the calendar together and identify the nights where her role is needed. It’s more of an educational role, to be honest. There are instances where she will become more active in responding to a situation, but generally it is more preventative and proactive.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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