Ottawa Hospital sees dramatic jump in reports of sexual assault

The Ottawa Hospital says it's seen a dramatic increase in the number of people reporting sexual assaults this year compared to 2014 and hopes it's the result of outreach and awareness campaigns encouraging people to come forward, not a jump in incidents.

Hospital 'sad and distraught' by numbers, but hope it's due to more comfort about coming forward

The Ottawa Hospital says it's getting more reports of sexual assault. They hope it's because people are feeling less shame about coming forward to get the help they need. (Shutterstock)

The Ottawa Hospital says it's seen a dramatic increase in the number of people reporting sexual assaults this year compared to 2014, and while the numbers are alarming, the hospital hopes it's the result of outreach and awareness campaigns encouraging people to come forward.

In September there were 53 reports of sexual assaults made at the hospital's three campuses: Civic, General and Riverside. One year earlier there were 23, according to Dr. Kari Sampsel, medical director for the sexual assault and partner abuse program at The Ottawa Hospital.

In October this year there were 46 reports, about double the number reported in October 2014.

More than 98-per-cent of people reporting sexual assaults are women, mainly between the ages of 18 and 25, Sampsel said.

"We are, of course, sad and distraught by the numbers we're seeing. We don't like to know or to think that there's this prevalence of sexual assault that's going on in our community," Sampsel said.

"But the silver lining of it is that people are coming and people are getting the help that they need, and not having to go [through] this alone. ... There's been a lot of discussion in the media about sexual assault, there's been a lot of really high-profile-type cases in the last little while, so I think it's becoming less shameful for people to report this happening to them."

Still, Sampsel estimates only between 10 and 30 per cent of sexual assaults are ever reported.


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