Supporting victims of sexual assault informs work on gender-based violence

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As part of the province’s work to develop an action plan to end gender-based violence, staff at the Victoria Sexual Assault Center (VSAC) presented their comprehensive, trauma-informed supports and services available in Greater Victoria.

Grace Lore, British Columbia Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, and Marci Len, Canada’s Minister for Women, Gender Equality and Youth, visited VSAC and were honored to learn staff their commitment to ending sexual violence through healing, education and prevention. VSAC has a continuum of care and programs to provide immediate support to survivors through a Sexual Assault Response Team, as well as counseling and support services for victims while they navigate the legal system and the prevention of violence.

“VSAC provides crucial support to female and transgender survivors of sexual assault and abuse,” Ien said. “Our government will continue to work alongside provincial governments to address and end gender-based violence in Canada. We will always stand with survivors and organizations that support survivors.

Starting in 2023, Budget 2022 will provide $22 million to restore stable funding to Community Sexual Assault Response Centres. In addition, the BC government provides more than $44 million annually to support more than 400 victim services and violence against women programs. With this funding, the BC government is putting people and survivors first.

“My government is committed to preventing violence and ensuring that all women have the services and support they need to escape its devastating effects and recover,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Security Public and Solicitor General. “I am proud that my department is partnering with Parliamentary Secretary Lore to develop a whole-of-government action plan to end gender-based violence. I deeply appreciate the dedication of the Victoria Sexual Assault Center and all community groups working to end violence and support survivors.

Stable funding for sexual assault centers is one part of an action plan to address gender-based violence in British Columbia being developed by the Office of Gender Equity from the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Survivors and service providers were consulted this year. Their feedback informs the development of the plan, which is underway across government.

“Having worked on the front lines supporting survivors, I have heard how important it is for survivors to be able to access sexual assault response services that are trauma-informed, survivor-centered. survivors and culturally appropriate,” Lore said. “That’s why our government reversed the stable funding cuts to sexual assault services made in 2002, and why we are committed to working collaboratively with and across all levels of government and with community service providers to ensure survivors have the supports and services they need when they feel comfortable coming forward. Our government is committed to working to end gender-based violence in British Columbia. »

VSAC started in 1982 with two volunteers in a basement. Forty years later, VSAC has over 30 employees and a large base of community volunteers who are dedicated to supporting survivors of assault and on the road to recovery.

“Sexual assault services are essential services,” said Carissa Ropponen, Resource Development and Communications Manager, VSAC. “Healing, education and prevention of sexual violence requires all levels of government to work together with organizations on the ground and communities most targeted by violence. We are encouraged to see the government acknowledging this truth and committing to action and sustained funding to address sexual violence.

Fast facts:

  • Girls and women under the age of 25 have the highest rates of police-reported sexual assaults in Canada and account for more than half of survivors.
  • Indigenous women, black women, women of color, transgender women, women with disabilities, and people with intersecting marginalized identities are at disproportionately higher risk of sexual assault.
  • The rate of self-reported sexual assault among Aboriginal women is almost three times that of non-Aboriginal women.
  • Sexual abuse can be a form of spousal abuse.
    • The Cridge Center for the Family cites that up to 90% of women who have been in an abusive relationship have suffered at least one brain injury from their partner.
  • The effects of sexualized and gender-based violence on an individual’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health include physical injury and death, disability, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, miscarriages, substance use, absence from school or work, job loss and social isolation.

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