A compassionate reporting choice for sexual violence survivors
The Third Option pilot project run by Connect Family and Sexual Abuse Network (a collaborative of 15 local agencies working to improve access to essential services and promote intervention and prevention of domestic and sexual abuse) started in April 2011. This project is supported by the Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the AHS Sexual Assault Response Team.
The Third Option offers victims of sexual assault another choice when deciding whether or not to report a sexual assault to police. Previously victims who attended a hospital within 72 hours after being sexually assaulted had the options of collecting evidence and reporting the crime against them to police immediately or choosing not to have evidence collected and released to police. The Third Option pilot project provides recent victims of sexual assault with an additional and compassionate reporting choice – collecting forensic evidence and having it stored for a period of up to one year allowing survivors time to make the reporting decision that is best for them without pressure. “Giving sexual assault victims more time to make a reporting decision is crucial, as most of these crimes are committed by someone who is known to the victim. That makes it harder for the victim to know what to do. It only makes sense to give people who’ve experienced major trauma time to consider such a decision” says Danielle Aubry, Executive Director of Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse.
The main goal of the project is to secure any evidence for potential future use should they decide to report to police and provide victims of sexual assault additional time to consider the decision to report.
Similar programs are available in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia however it is the first of its kind in Alberta. CCASA considers this project a milestone in providing thoughtful and compassionate services to our clients.
The Third Option Media Launch November 17, 2011: Read the Speech from CCASA’s Executive Director, Danielle Aubry Here