“We’re there every step of the journey.”
That’s the message shared by the dedicated staff and volunteers from the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, says the centre’s Carissa Ropponen.
The centre provides a wide variety of free and confidential services to survivors of sexual assault, including immediate crisis support, crisis counselling and liaising with other from the justice system.
“It’s incredibly important to be that support – from helping survivors fill out essential forms to supporting them through court proceedings.”
Prevention efforts are equally important, and the team is active in the community to help shift the culture.
Events like the 26th annual Triathlon of Compassion June 23 – the centre’s biggest annual fundraiser – help raise invaluable funds, but also awareness, encouraging the community to talk about issues surrounding sexual assault.
And it’s a conversation that’s still so needed.
Consider that one in three women will be sexually assaulted, a number that jumps to one in two for trans individuals.
“It’s still a big problem in our society and it really is a community-wide problem that we need to come together to solve,” Ropponen says.
Simply seeing people come together in support of the centre and those who’ve experienced sexual assault is powerful.
“The Tri is a very important event for us. When people publicly support survivors, is shows that we believe healing is possible. It’s powerful and it’s healing to know that others are standing with you,” Ropponen says.
Try a Tri!
Hosted by Human Powered Racing in support of Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, the Triathlon of Compassion offers a fun, scenic sprint distance race – 500-metre swim, a 2o-kilometre ride and a 5km run – plus a full range of distances for youth aged 6 to 15. There’s even a relay option for those wanting to participate as part of a team!
“We would love people to get involved with the Triathlon of Compassion – it’s really a family-friendly event,” Ropponen says. “Some are triathletes, while others just want to try something new.”
In the ongoing effort to boost inclusivity, organizers have added a third, all-genders category. “We want to ensure our fundraising events are inclusive and welcoming to everyone,” she says. “We’re really excited – to our knowledge we’re the first triathlon in Canada to offer this category.”
To register for the Triathlon of Compassion, visit triofcompassion.com/register
Volunteers also welcome – and needed!
“We’re always looking for volunteers to help with the event, to help direct and cheer on the racers,” Ropponen says.
Volunteers are also welcome at the centre itself, from serving on the board of directors or fundraising committee to supporting survivors of sexual assault.