Supporting sexual-assault survivors informs work on gender-based violence

August 1, 2022 at 1:18 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

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

Grace Lore, B.C.’s Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, and Marci len, Canada’s Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, toured VSAC and were honoured to learn from staff about their commitment to end sexualized violence through healing, education and prevention. VSAC has a continuum of care and programming to provide immediate support for survivors through a sexual-assault response team, along with counselling and victim-support services as they navigate the legal system and violence prevention.

“VSAC provides crucial supports for women and transgender survivors of sexual assault and abuse,” said Ien. “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-based sexual-assault response service centres. In addition, the B.C. government provides more than $44 million annually to support more than 400 victim-service and violence-against-women programs. With this funding, the B.C. government puts people and survivors first.

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

Stable funding for sexual assault centres is one component of an action plan to address gender-based violence in B.C. being developed by the Ministry of Finance’s Gender Equity Office and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Survivors and service providers were consulted this year. Their input is informing the development of the plan, which is underway across government.

“Having worked on the front line supporting survivors, I have heard about how important it is for survivors to be able to access sexual-assault response services that are trauma-informed, survivor-centred and culturally appropriate,” said Lore. “That is why our government has reversed the cuts to stable funding 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-based service providers to ensure that survivors have the supports and services they need when they feel comfortable coming forward. Our government is dedicated to working toward ending gender-based violence in British Columbia.”

VSAC started in 1982 with two volunteers in a basement suite. Forty years later, VSAC has more than 30 staff and a large community volunteer base dedicated to supporting survivors in the aftermath of an assault and on the road to healing.

“Sexual-assault services are essential services,” said Carissa Ropponen, manager of resource development and communications, VSAC. “Healing, education and prevention of sexualized violence requires collaboration from all levels of government with organizations on the ground and communities most targeted for violence. We are encouraged to see government recognizing this truth and committing to action and sustainable funding to address sexualized violence.”

Quick Facts:

  • Girls and women under 25 have the highest rates of police-reported sexual assault in Canada, and account for more than half of survivors.
  • Indigenous women, Black women, women of colour, transgender women, women living with disabilities and people with intersecting marginalized identities face a disproportionately higher risk of sexual assault. 
  • The rate of self-reported sexual assault among Indigenous women is almost three times the rate of non-Indigenous women.
  • Sexualized violence can be a form of intimate-partner violence.
    • The Cridge Centre for the Family cites that as many as 90% of women who have been in a violent relationship have received 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, disabilities, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancy, miscarriage, substance use, absence from school or work, job loss and social isolation.

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