Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Connecting sexual violence survivors to supports

Government of Alberta - A new initiative is helping ensure survivors of sexual violence know their rights and which support services are available in their communities.  Alberta Justice and Solicitor General (JSG) and its partners have developed a resource card that police services across the province can distribute to Albertans who report sexual violence.  In addition to providing contact information for agencies and organizations that provide support, the card states the right of survivors to have their needs and wishes respected at each stage of the criminal justice process: “Remember, every reaction to sexual assault is different; your feelings are normal. Being a victim of a crime is never your fault,” it reads.

“Survivors of sexual violence should be treated with dignity, compassion and respect. This resource card not only affirms their rights, it also connects survivors with the information and supports they may need.”- Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

The resource card was created by the Sexual Violence Police Advisory Committee (SVPAC), formed by JSG in 2015 to find ways to improve support for survivors of sexual assault. The committee, which meets monthly, has representatives from JSG, law enforcement, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Community and Social Services and the Status of Women ministry.

“We know the majority of sexual assault survivors are women. This is an important resource for women to know they are not alone and we are here to help them.” - Stephanie McLean, Minister of Status of Women

“Our service has a strong victim focus when dealing with sexual assaults, so it is critical that we connect people with the resources they need. These cards will help ensure our front-line officers have all this information at their fingertips when responding to sexual assault calls." - Staff Sgt. Bruce Walker, Sex Crimes Unit, Calgary Police Service

“The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services encourages survivors of sexual violence to reach out for help and this resource card will help them do that. Tell a trusted friend or family member or call a sexual assault service centre in your area. We want survivors to know that we believe them.” - Debra Tomlinson, CEO, Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services

As part of its ongoing work, the SVPAC is working on provincial guidelines to ensure consistency in the investigation of sexual violence cases in Alberta, along with standardized training for investigators.

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