Sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not on the decline.
So states Vernon’s Archway Society for Domestic Peace, adding 30 per cent of women and eight per cent of men over the age of 15 report experiencing sexual assault. This rate is much higher for Indigenous women, women of colour, gender-diverse people, and people with disabilities and/or experiencing homelessness.
“This is a pervasive problem in our country and here in the North Okanagan,” said the society, in a release. The Archway Society for Domestic Peace received a grant through the provincial government to enhance the sexual assault response in the region by increasing the availability of supports and access to service.
Now in Year 2, the program is up and running and seeing a boost in referrals.
“The sexual assault response program is available to anyone who has experienced sexual assault,” said Brooke McLardy, Archway’s community programs manager. “This can range from unwanted advances, kissing or touching, to rape. Our staff are specially trained to listen to survivors, explain their options, support their choices, and refer them to further support services.”
Survivors are walked through the options of accompaniment to seek specialized medical care; how to report to police if that is something they want to do; anonymous reporting options; available community resources; applications for victim of crime funding; and connection to justice system support, if applicable.
“Survivors are often assaulted by people they know and trust which can cause them to doubt themselves or feel to blame; and this makes it particularly difficult to seek support,” said McLardy. “Our program is here to answer questions so people can make informed choices about their next steps and ensure that they have the supports they need to exercise their options and go on to lead a healthy life.”
The Sexual Assault Service is free, available to all persons and can be accessed by calling 250-309-6733 during business hours or calling the Transition House at 250-542-1122 after hours.
More information can be found on the Archway Society for Domestic Peace website, archwaysociety.ca.
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