Sexual Assault Response
Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society has been working towards locally accessible sexual assault services since its inception. We feel that if sexual assault survivors can be supported in their own community and have greater access to local community care, there would be better outcomes in time and quality of recovery, and survivors will be more prepared to participate in the justice system, if they so choose.
In tandem with improving the experience for survivors, our work is equally focused on sexual assault prevention. We are continuing our work to secure ongoing funding to address emerging and ongoing issues in sexual assault response and prevention in our region.
This is a pivotal time to be working in the field of sexual assault response and prevention. The public is more prepared than ever before to demand progressive social change and justice for survivors for sexual assault. In collaboration with our many partners, advocates and funders, we feel optimistic we will dramatically improve the supports for survivors, and decrease the likelihood of sexual assaults from happening through our youth prevention initiatives.
YOUR HEALING, YOUR CHOICES
Sexual assault is a crime of violence, where unwanted sexual contact is imposed through force or coercion. Often premeditated, sexual violence is inflicted with intent to overpower and violate another person’s bodily integrity, and to injure their sense of dignity and self. It may include non-consensual kissing, groping, or more involved sexual acts. Most often, the perpetrator is known.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, THERE IS HELP.
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Whether a stranger or someone you know, they never have the right to assault you. It has nothing to do with what you wore, where you were, who you were with, or whether you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. Only the perpetrator is to blame.
GET TO A SAFE PLACE and call a friend, family member, the police or go to your local emergency department or hospital. If you need an ambulance to get you there, call 911.
GETTING MEDICAL ATTENTION is one of the most important actions you can take. Your medical care can include:
◦ any necessary treatment of internal & external injuries
◦ tests for sexually transmitted infections
◦ pregnancy prevention
You may choose a forensic examination to gather evidence, regardless of whether you choose to report the assault to the police at this time. Your evidence can be stored in a locked freezer at the hospital for one year while you think about your options.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE HOSPITAL
You can have a friend, family member or support worker stay with you at the hospital. Expect to receive full information about your treatment options and the care available to you. You have the right to a complete medical examination and the option of having a forensic exam.
You are in control. It is your choice what medical care you receive.
A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is on-call Monday to Friday at Squamish General Hospital. She is specially trained to collect forensic evidence and provide compassionate medical care to survivors of sexual assault. Forensic evidence can be collected up to 7 days after an assault.
The nurse will explain what she is doing throughout the exam, regularly checking in & asking for your permission to continue each step of the way. A forensic exam from start to finish takes about 2 hours and includes:
◦ the documentation of injuries
◦ the collection of hair & fibers
◦ an examination of areas related to the sexual assault
If you are considering reporting to police, do not shower, change, or straighten up the location where the assault occurred; these could be used as evidence by the police.
THIRD PARTY REPORTS
If you do not wish to make a police report, but would still like to provide RCMP information about the assault, a specialized victim service worker at WAVAW (Vancouver) or Hollyburn Family Services (North Vancouver) can file an anonymous report on your behalf. The police cannot arrest the assailant, but will keep this information on file for possible future investigations in the event the perpetrator also assaults someone else.
WHAT THE RCMP CAN DO
If you decide to report to the police, the following information will help you understand what happens next. A victim service worker with the Whistler or Squamish detachments can also support you through the process.
Making a police statement involves the police conducting an audio-visual statement at the detachment. It may also require a written statement in your own words.
Once you make a statement to the police, the investigation and direction of the case are in the hands of the police. Based on the evidence, Crown Counsel (a lawyer representing the Province of BC) will decide to proceed with the case or not. If the case proceeds to criminal court, you will be called as a witness.
There isn’t any time limit on reporting sexual assault; but the sooner a report is made, the better the chances are the police will find evidence linking the offender to the crime.
FOLLOW UP RESOURCES
You may be wondering how you can help yourself in the days and weeks ahead. Please know there are caring, confidential and non-judgmental follow-up services in all of our regional communities.
There is no right or wrong way to feel after experiencing sexual assault. You have been through a traumatic experience, so it is important for you to take care of yourself. Pay attention to how you are feeling and explore ways to express your feelings. Connecting with community resources can help you find strategies to address your needs. Trust you will heal, in your own way, and in your own time.
VICTIM SERVICES (RCMP) Squamish: 604.892.6141 | Whistler/Pemberton: 604.905.1969
Front-line resource to sexual assault victims who want to make a police report. Crisis intervention, reporting options, justice system guidance, & with laid charges, access to Crime Victim Assistance Program for counselling.
SOUTHERN STL’ATL’IMX HEALTH SOCIETY: 604.894.0151 | 7327 Industrial Way, Pemberton
Community health nurse and counselling services for Stl’atl’imx Nations.
LIL’WAT HEALTH & HEALING: 604.894.5565 | 11092 Black Bear Road, Mount Currie
Community health services including counselling, pregnancy testing and sexually transmitted infection testing.
YUUSTWAY HEALTH SERVICES: 604.892.5975 | 1221 Billy Road, Squamish
Community health nurse, counselling and alternative healing and wellness services.
PEARL’S SAFE HOME (Pemberton) 24 Hr Crisis Line: 1.877.890.5711
Temporary emergency shelter, typically 10 days, in a safe and secure environment for survivors and their children.
PEARL’S PLACE TRANSITION HOUSE (Squamish) 24 Hr Crisis Line: 1.877.890.5711
Emergency transitional housing in a safe and secure environment for survivors, their children & pets. Emotional support, advocacy and referrals.
WHISTLER COMMUNITY SERVICES: 604.902.5089 or 604.902.0670
Outreach support to men & women in need residing in the community of Whistler.
THE WOMEN’S CENTRE
Squamish: 604.892.5748 | 38021 Third Avenue | Whistler: 604.962.8711 | 1519 Spring Creek Drive
Drop-in emotional support, legal systems guidance, options, advocacy and referrals.
WOMEN’S COUNSELLING & OUTREACH (SSCS)
Squamish: 604.892.5796 | Whistler/Pemberton: 604.894.6101
Includes systems guidance & advocacy available to women who have experienced sexual assault, abuse or violence in a relationship. Outreach (Pemberton & area) may offer accompaniment to medical, legal and social service appointments. No police report required.
SAIP (Sexual Abuse Intervention Program)
Squamish: 604.892.5796 | Whistler: 1.877.892.2022 | Pemberton: 604.894.6101
Counselling available to youth under 19 who have experienced any type of sexual interference. No cost.
Rape Crisis Centre offers counselling support by phone. Ask about 3rd Party Reporting.
HOLLYBURN FAMILY SERVICES (North Shore): 778.855.4566
Specialized Victim Services, including support and accompaniment for the North Vancouver Provincial Court House
VICTIMLINK BC: 1.800.563.0808
Confidential referral service with help provided in 110 different languages.