A coalition of Montreal social service organizations is launching a website to help people who work with sexual assault victims.
The online tool is designed to help counsellors and caregivers refer sexual assault victims to the most appropriate resources.
The site is the result of a year's work by members of le Table de concertation sur les agressions à caractère sexuel de Montréal — a working group of 21 organizations that provide services for victims of sexual assault on the island of Montreal.
Deborah Trent, director of the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre, said this initiative will also help prevent victims from being sent from one place to another where they have to retell their experiences.
"Because we're dealing with something as complex as sexual assault and as difficult emotionally as sexual assault, [it's difficult when] you have to constantly, constantly repeat. People are very good at just not hearing," said Trent.
Trent said that when a victim feels judged or made to feel uncomfortable during a first consultation, they often will not continue to seek professional help.
"It really deters people from continuing the aid process," said Trent.
Sexual assault statistics
- In 2011 in Quebec, 4958 sexual offences were recorded by police.
- 83% of sexual assault victims were female — 53% were girls, and 30% were adult women.
- 17% of sexual assault victims were male — 14% were boys, and 3% were adult men.
- 67% of victims were under 18 years old.
Source: Department of Public Safety
Trent said that because getting the right help as soon as possible is crucial in determining how well a victim will deal with an assault, the site provides professionals with answers to difficult questions that arise in their work.
The site also has a number of videos in Quebec Sign Language for victims who are hearing impaired.
"If you have an added vulnerability to your life — whether it's an intellectual or physical handicap — that's just going to make things happen a little bit more often," said Trent.
The majority of the website is in French, but Trent said key sections for victims are translated in English, and other areas will be translated as funding becomes available.