Sadly, the odds are that we all know someone who is a sexual assault survivor -- I know I do. Sexual assault is pervasive; not only in that it is a frequent occurrence in our society, but also because it can dominate the existence of a survivor.
Awareness has been raised for the frequency and severity of such incidents; we have seen high-profile criminal cases in Canada and internationally, and as a society we have grown more receptive to survivors who come forward. This awareness is a positive development, but further awareness is needed. Often, media and social media portray such a situation as a criminal or a civil matter -- the conversation turns to restitution.
While the criminal and civil dynamics are necessary, they are not sufficient. Viewing an incident of sexual assault purely as a criminal matter centres the discussion on the perpetrator, and frames the survivor as a victim. Viewing the same incident as a civil matter can have the effect of putting a price tag on sexual assault and allows for the perpetuation of the cash-in myth. Neither paradigm addresses the needs of the survivor.
This is the further awareness that is needed: that the consequences of sexual assault live long in the survivor.
The OCRCC supports local Crisis Centres that specialize in providing services to sexual assault survivors. One such service is free counselling. Sexual assault often leads to mental health conditions, or can make them worse. For some, medication helps; for those situations where medication is not the answer, OHIP does not cover counselling. This free counselling alone is potentially a difference-maker for a survivor.
In addition, the OCRCC advocates locally, provincially and nationally for the rights and interests of sexual assault survivors. They are a valuable source for information, research and policy guidance.
Please consider donating. You can follow my efforts at www.youareastar.ca. Thank you!