A new program is being launched to help support recent survivors of sexual violence, at a time when many are more vulnerable than ever before.
The Sexual Assault Response Program (SARP) is open to individuals of all genders, who are 13 years of age or older and have experienced sexual violence and/or sexual assault in the past year. It provides a range of confidential services, including a 24-hour support line, mobile access to medical and outreach services, and up to five free emergency counselling sessions.
There are signs that the demand for these services could be higher than ever, said Myra Kohler, program coordinator with Campbell River Family Services Society (CRFSS).
“We’re seeing that the pandemic has increased some of the factors that contribute to sexual violence — things like job loss, increased stress, and over-consumption (of substances),” she said.
Increased isolation has created an environment where sexual violence can go undetected.
“We find reporting rates are very, very low — about only five per cent of people who are sexually assaulted ever come forward,” she said.
As such, the program is being offered to help people report their experience who might not otherwise.
“We’re really hoping this gives people an opportunity to discuss their options in a safe way,” she said.
Survivors, at their discretion, may also request accompaniment to the hospital, police detachment, and/or court.
But they do not have to make a police report to receive assistance or medical care.
“I think a lot of people don’t know you can access medical support, like STI (sexually transmitted infection) prevention, without having to make a full report,” she said. “It’s important that people know what options are available.”
The program is being provided through collaboration between four community groups: North Island Survivors’ Healing Society (NISHS), Kwakiutl District Council (KDC) Health, Campbell River & North Island Transition Society (CRNITS), and CRFSS.
SARP is being administered and coordinated by CRFFS. It is funded by the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia.
The program can be accessed by calling or texting 250-201-2150 anytime. More information about the program can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or on its Facebook page.
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