The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre reported that 12 per cent of sexual assault responses last year were for survivors in the West Shore area. (Victoria Sexual Assault Centre)

Requests for sexual assault response increasing on the West Shore

12 per cent of region’s sexual assault responses for people on West Shore: Victoria Sexual Assault Centre

About 12 per cent of sexual assault responses conducted by the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre’s response team last year supported survivors from the West Shore.

According to Carissa Ropponen, spokesperson for the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre (VSAC), the number of people who sought out help from the centre’s integrated clinic has increased in the last three years as well.

The VSAC Sexual Assault Response Team provides survivors — aged 13 and over and of all genders — who have been sexually assaulted within the past seven days with access to medical and forensic exams, police interviews and crisis support.

The team brings together police, forensic nurse examiners and crisis workers to support survivors.

In 2016, VSAC opened the Sexual Assault Centre Integrated Clinic and uses the clinic to provide survivors with a safe, accessible and confidential environment to receive services offered by the response team.

READ MORE: Surge in requests for help, reports of sexual assault since #MeToo

Before 2016, the team operated out of Victoria General Hospital.

“Since the clinic has opened we’ve seen a large increase in requests for Sexual Assault Response Team services,” Ropponen said.

Before the clinic opened, the team responded to 34 survivors in the hospital. By the 2017/2018 fiscal year, the team responded to 137 people.

Of those 137, it is estimated that 12 per cent are from the West Shore area.

But the increase in requests for response does not necessarily mean an increase in sexual assaults, Ropponen noted.

“It means that more people are feeling comfortable to come forward and receive support,” Ropponen said. “It means this model of service is really working for people … it can be very intimidating for a survivor to go to an emergency room right after experiencing assault.”

Ropponen said the clinic is a quiet, calm, confidential space that is available 24 hours a day. She said it makes a big impact for a survivor to have the option of attending the clinic rather than going to a hospital.

Additionally, the clinic offers a private interview room where police can conduct interviews with the survivor.

“West Shore RCMP have booked the clinic for interviews too,” Ropponen said.

READ MORE: Victoria Sexual Assault Centre launches $55,000 in 55 days campaign on GivingTuesday

The clinic costs approximately $200,000 to operate and the money for it is fundraised every year. VSAC currently does not have core funding from the government for the clinic but would like to see it one day, Ropponen said.

“We know this model is effective,” Ropponen said. “Also other communities are interested in this model.”

VSAC is currently speaking with municipalities in Greater Victoria to receive their support and keep the clinic running.

“Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes,” Ropponen said. “The clinic is a space where people feel more comfortable receiving support so we see that as successful.”

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New crop of hand-crafted heats popping up across Saanich

Community arts program promotes wellness, sends message of caring from people of all ages

Saanich School District set to review its boundaries

Goal is to correct imbalances in school populations

South Island Transportation Strategy looks to reduce reliance on personal vehicles

EV charging stations, bike lockers, new park-and-ride stalls among solutions in Capital Region

BC Transit finishes wave of replacements with natural gas buses in Victoria

Average fleet age drops a few years with new buses added in 2020

Oak Bay couple honoured for 35 years volunteering

Mayor awards distinguished Oak Leaf to Bert and Doris Dinsmore

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

POLL: Do you agree with the decision to call a provincial election for Oct. 24?

British Columbians will put their social distancing skills to the test when… Continue reading

The holiday everyone needs this year: Vote for your favourite in Fat Bear Week 2020

Voters will get to decide who gets to take home this year’s most coveted prize

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read