Press Release: Third Option Pilot Project
I am extremely pleased to be standing here as the Executive Director for Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, and as an avid supporter of this pilot project.
Sexual assault and sexual abuse are crimes that often exist in secrecy and shame. They are crimes of violence where an individual’s most fundamental human right to have choice and ownership over their own bodies has been taken away from them. Along with this, people who have had unwanted sexual experiences can suffer physical trauma such as sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancy, as well as emotional impacts such as nightmares, high anxiety, problems with sleeping and eating, and extreme sadness.
In working with sexual assault and sexual abuse survivors for many years, we see firsthand how complex the issue of sexual violence is and how difficult and traumatic it can be on an individual.
We recognize that making a decision to come forward and talk about their assault let alone to even report it can be an extremely difficult decision for most victims. This is compounded by the fact that most sexual assaults are committed by someone who is known to the victim adding even more layers to an already complex issue.
The pilot project of giving a third option to survivors of sexual violence offers recent victims of sexual assault a compassionate means of time and individual choice for each survivor to determine on their own volition what their next steps will be.
The goal of the third option is not necessarily to increase reporting, but rather to give the best possible and most humane medical treatment and counselling services to survivors after they have endured extreme trauma while at the same time allowing them to regain a sense of control over their lives.
I am extremely thankful to Deb Tomlinson from CONNECT for all of her hard work in making this pilot project happen in Alberta.
I am also very thankful to the Calgary police service. Knowing that it is their job to make Calgary a safe place to live, I recognize their desire to want to increase reporting. However I believe that their participation and support of this pilot project shows they have an understanding for victim rights and need for survivors to have choice.
For all of this, I am truly grateful for having a strong network of support services in place for survivors of sexual violence.