Brenda Thompson, left, and Dela Longmire of the Women’s Place Resource Centre in Annapolis Royal are making a sexual assault response project a priority despite the fact the local group was not provided with provincial funding. “Survivors need peer support and advocacy after an assault, but finding help is not always easy,” said Thompson.
By Heather Killen
A local women’s centre is moving forward with plans to build a better support system for survivors of sexual assault.
In August groups were invited to submit expressions of interest for projects to improve services for survivors of sexual violence. Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard announced the projects that will be funded.
Brenda Thompson, of the Women’s Place Resource Centre, said The Women’s Place is working in partnership with the Red Door in Kentville to build a better support network for victims of sexual assault.
In a February 10 announcement, it was confirmed that The Red Door in Kentville and the Tri-County Women's Centre in Yarmouth along with centres in Sydney, Truro, Halifax, and Lunenburg, would receive $55,000 a year over two years to improve service delivery, responses, and co-ordinate services for victims of sexual assault.
Thompson said sexual assault is one of the most serious problems facing women in this area, so The Women’s Place has decided to move ahead on its plans to provide better support for victims closer to home.
“It’s one of the least reported crimes,” she said. “Survivors need peer support and advocacy after an assault, but finding help is not always easy.”
Victims are often reluctant to report sexual assaults for various reasons, and many are afraid that no one will believe them, said Thompson. Often when assaults are reported the individuals are in crisis, coping with multiple problems including homelessness.
“We have two shelters, Chrysalis House and Juniper House,” she said. “Each is more than an hour’s drive from here. Often women come to us in crisis, but sometimes it’s a past assault they want to report.”
Studies show that the post-traumatic stress from an assault can cause long-term damage if it is not dealt with in a supportive manner. Thompson says The Women’s Place wants to develop a better support network, so survivors can receive the support they need after an assault.
Project A Priority
“This project is desperately needed, so we are making it a priority,” she said. “Victims need to know they will be believed when they report sexual assault. We want to partner with the RCMP and the Justice system so that everyone works with the survivor to minimize the after effects of the trauma.”
The Women's Place will be working to develop a sexual assault response partnership in the western Annapolis Valley, Thompson said. This project would establish a protocol to ensure support is in place at each crucial step of the process; so that survivors receive help from the time the crime is reported through the judicial process.
According to Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax, the rate of reported sexual assaults in Nova Scotia was 75 per 100,000, higher than the national rate of 65 per 100,000 people in 2007.
The rate of reported sexual assault victimization for women (118 per 100,000 women) is almost five times higher than men (24 per 100,000 men).
For more information and/or to become involved in this project, call Brenda Thompson at (902) 532-7101 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Women's Place Resource Centre, go here.