Services for victims/survivors of sexual assault

Reporting | Anonymous third-party reporting | Collection of forensic evidence
Safety planning | Social work/counselling services | Referral to community agencies Cultural-interpretation services | Follow-up services

 

Reporting

Sexual assault of an adult is not reported to the police unless the client requests it. The staff at the sexual assault/domestic violence treatment centres does not release any information unless the client signs the appropriate release forms.

Anonymous third-party reporting

The victim of a sexual assault can write a report at the centre that outlines what she/he can recall about the assault and about the person who committed the assault. The name of the victim is not included—she or he remains completely anonymous. This report helps the police identify offenders who may be selecting victims in a specific area or offenders who have offended before. (This service is not available at all centres.)

Collection of forensic evidence

A Sexual Assault Evidence Kit is a sealed box with forms and many containers required to collect evidence from the victim’s body and clothing to assist in legal proceedings.

This evidence must be collected within 72 hours after the assault. Research shows that after 72 hours, it is very difficult to find evidence (e.g., DNA) connecting the sexual assault to the person who committed the assault.

The centres do not report a sexual assault to the police or release any information unless it is with the consent of the adult victim.

If the victim is unsure about having police involvement, this evidence can be collected and kept frozen at the centre for up to six months. This gives the victim time to decide if she/he wants to involve the criminal justice system. The kit will be destroyed after six months unless the victim contacts the individual centre with specific directions.

Safety planning

Centre staff can help an individual who is living in an abusive relationship develop a safety plan and can offer concrete suggestions to keep them, and their children, safe. Suggestions for developing a personal safety plan can be found on the Waterloo Region Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre website, keepingsafe.ca.

Social work/counselling services

The counselling services offered may not be the same at each centre. Clients may be provided with counselling from a specially trained counselling staff member at the centre, or referred to an appropriate community agency. The individual providing this service will talk to the victims regarding confidentiality.

Referral to community agencies

The centres have access to community resources such as counselling, legal services, shelters and 24-hour hotlines. Clients are referred as appropriate.

Cultural-interpretation services

The centres make every attempt to provide sign language and cultural interpreters when necessary. The use of family members and non-trained staff is discouraged.

Follow-up services

Many centres have a follow-up nurse who checks on clients a few days after they have been seen at the centre, providing it is safe to do so. This follow-up may be a phone call or a one-on-one visit where the client returns to the centre. This provides an opportunity for the nurse to:

  • Check on the client’s emotional and physical wellbeing
  • Answer any questions
  • Review the safety plan
  • Conduct a risk assessment
  • Re-document or photograph any injuries that have become more apparent
  • Test for sexually transmitted infections
  • Provide the results of tests for sexually transmitted infections
  • Provide referrals