Sexual Violence Resources
By: Lauryn Evans
University is an exciting time for many. It is filled with many first-time experiences, discovering oneself, and making new friends. There is much excitement and newness, but it is essential to recognize, and be proactive about the possible dangers. It is a harrowing experience to feel lost in an unfamiliar city after experiencing sexual violence and not knowing where to turn – not knowing if you need help or how to seek it. If you or someone you know have experienced sexual violence, whether recent or historical, there are resources set in place that are here to help and honour you. No matter how much time has passed, you deserve to heal.
According to Statistics Canada (2020), 71 per cent of students witnessed or experienced unwanted sexual advancements and behaviours in a postsecondary setting in 2019. Furthermore, one in three women and one in eight men have experienced unwanted sexual beahviour in public (Statistics Canada, 2019). Anyone can experience sexual violence, but while we speak about this, it is important to do so through a gender-based lens. Statistics Canada (2019) defines gender-based violence as violence that is committed against an individual due to one’s gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender. Other risk and protective factors are that of: age, race, disability, and sexual orientation. Previous research also founded that Indigenous women, disabled women, lesbian and bisexual women, along with gay and bisexual men are more at risk of experiencing violence (Statistics Canada, 2019).
If you have been the victim of sexual violence, you do not need to go through this alone. You are worthy of getting help, of being heard, of healing. No matter what you have experienced, whether recent or historic, know it is valid. Navigating the world, relationships, academics, and your relations with self after experiencing sexual violence can be scary and challenging. The weight that you feel is not something you need to carry by yourself. Please, reach out for help if you need and know there is no shame in asking for help.
-Counselling Services, AH 153 | Email: Counselling.Services@uleth.ca | Phone: (403) 317-2845
-Courtney Smith, Sexual Violence Prevention Educator | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: (403) 317-2862
-Campus Safety, L911 | Email: email@example.com | Phone: (403) 329-2603
-Health Centre, SU020 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: (403) 329-2484. Appointments can also be booked online.
-Chinook Regional Hospital, Emergency Department: 960 19 St. South
-Chinook Sexual Assault Centre: 502-740 4 Ave South | Phone: (403) 694-1094 or 1 (844) 576-2512
-YWCA Amethyst Project: 604 8th street South | Email: email@example.com | Phone: (403) 329-0088 | 24-Hour Crisis Line: (403) 320-1881 or 1 (866) 296-0447
-Lethbridge Victim Services | Phone: (403) 329-5042 | Distress line: (403) 327-7905 or 1 (888) 787-2880 | Crisis Intervention Team: (403) 329-5630 | Sexual Health Centre: (403) 320-0110
-Lethbridge Police Services: 135 1 Ave S | Phone: (403) 328-4444
If you are at the university and without transportation:
-Southgate Station bus route 2 will take you to Chinook Regional Hospital
-Southgate Station bus route 2 and Sherring Station bus route 1 will take you to the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre
-Southgate Station bus route 2 and Sherring Station bus route 1 will take you to Lethbridge Police Service
Reporting Sexual Violence
There are many that choose not to report sexual violence and that is not something that anyone can ask of you to do. If you have experienced sexual violence, only you can decide what to do and what is suitable for you. If you choose not to report, that is okay. However, if you experience sexual violence at the university or by someone who attends or works for the university and want to report the incident, here are some options:
-Disclosing without filing a formal complaint with the university: disclosure of sexual violence may be made to working professionals (counsellor, doctor, sexual violence prevention educator, etc.) for the purpose of receiving support and referrals. If you choose to disclose this information, it does not require you to file a complaint with the university. This is a private and confidential option; if you file an official complaint with the university at a later date, you can do so. There is no time limit for filing a sexual violence complaint.
-A formal complaint with the university: this is only done if the person who experienced sexual violence chooses to do so. You have the right to withdraw your complaint at any time. If the complaint is withdrawn, you can still receive university support. If you file a formal complaint with the university and then withdraw, please know that the university may act at its discretion once it has become aware of the alleged misconduct.
-Personal record of information: this option allows the individual who experienced sexual violence to prepare a personal document of information pertaining to the event(s) that sexual violence occurred. This assists in the recollection of details if a complaint is made at a later date. The individual themselves creates this record and they are responsible for retaining the document in a safe place. This option does not initiate a complaint, but may be used if you choose to file an official complaint at a later date or if you choose to file a criminal report with police.
-Reporting to the police: this is an option that does not include the university. This can be a very uncomfortable, intense, and vulnerable process. Doing this alone can be extremely difficult, so if you have someone safe and someone you trust that can join you, it will help. There are officers that will assist you with the process of filing a report and the following steps.
If you have gone to the Chinook Region Hospital within 72 hours of being sexually assaulted, please know that The Amethyst Project has created an important third option besides the two options that the hospital typically presents. Option three includes: pregnancy testing, STI testing, injury assessment and treatment, evidence collected and stored anonymously for up to one year, the police will not be contacted and an investigation will not ensue until the individual seeking treatment feels ready, along with referrals to community services will be provided. If you choose to pursue an investigation, whether immediately or within the year, The Amethyst Project Advocates are there to support you through the legal process. If you choose not to have a sexual assault kit completed, the Amethyst Advocates will still provide support and connections with other community services as needed.
Look out for yourself and look out for those around you. Don’t leave your drinks unattended and if you and your friends go out together, go home together too. Never leave someone behind. Be cautious and stay aware. If you see something, say something.
Though I may only be a stranger talking to you through the pages of this magazine, please know that I believe you, I see you, and that I am proud of you for being here. No matter your trauma, you are always worthy of healing and safety. If you need support, please reach out. It does get better.
If you or someone else are in need of immediate medical attention, do not wait. Get somewhere safe and call 911 immediately.
Burczycka, M. (2020, September 14). “Students’ experiences of unwanted sexualized behaviours and sexual assault at postsecondary schools in the Canadian provinces, 2019.” Statistics Canada. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2020001/article/00005-eng.htm
Cotter, A., & Savage, L. (2019, December 5). “Gender-based violence and unwanted sexual behaviour in Canada, 2018: Initial findings from the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces.” Statistics Canada. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2019001/article/00017-eng.htm