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

Just Posted

UPDATED: Heavy police presence in Victoria had part of Bay Street blocked off

Bay Street east of Quadra Street was blocked off on Saturday

Hundreds of foreign species still washing up on B.C. coast, eight years after tsunami

The Royal BC Museum is home to thousands of samples collected along the west coast of North America

Victoria first Canadian city to join United Nations tree planting challenge

The City of Victoria pledges to plant 5,000 trees by the end of 2020

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Most Read