Sudbury

Greater Sudbury Police raising awareness of child sexual abuse

The Greater Sudbury Police Service is working with other community partners to bring awareness to child sexual abuse.

When police investigate child sexual abuse they often become the voices for the children, says detective

Greater Sudbury Police hosted a conference on Tuesday to raise awareness of child sexual abuse. (Jamie-Lee McKenzie/CBC)

The Greater Sudbury Police Service is working with other community partners to bring awareness to child sexual abuse.

A conference, held on Tuesday, focused on bringing community partners together to raise awareness of child sexual abuse, provide training for frontline workers and deliver information on how to best support survivors.

This was the second conference in Greater Sudbury to focus on sexual abuse, however, this years conference focused on children.

"I find that children are sometimes are often overlooked and we know that children are one of the most vulnerable in regards to sexual abuse," said Stephanie Duchene, a constable and detective with GSPS and one of the organizers of the conference.

"I think it's important that we share all our knowledge with our frontline workers, with our community partners, it helps in the end the investigators do a better job."

Chanelle Petrie was a speaker at the conference, she was there to share her story as a survivor of child sexual abuse.

When Petrie was 15-years-old she was sexually abused by her hockey coach who was 39 at the time. In 2014, her coach pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor and sexual interference with a person under the age of 16 and was sentenced to one year in jail and 18 months probation.

Chanelle Petrie is a survivor of child sexual abuse, she shared her story at the 2019 Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Conference. (Jamie-Lee McKenzie/CBC)

Petrie fought to have the publication ban lifted so she could share her story in hopes that it would help other victims of child sexual abuse come forward.

"The second reason [to share her story] was to take power back," said Petrie. "You know, the thing with offenders is they they take your power away by silencing your voice and for me that was about getting my voice back. I wanted to set an example for other victims out there."

Petrie says although she's happy that she's able to share her story, she says she's still healing and still struggles.

"I have my supports around me, I have my counsellor and my PTSD therapist and that's the most important part is keeping up with your counselling and be honest with others around you," she said.

"For me it's about letting my family members or my wife know when I'm having a trigger, when I'm really needing the supports."

Dr. Chanel Corbeil is from Health Sciences North and works with children who have suffered sexual abuse or trauma. She says her main focus is medical and she doesn't ask children about abuse or trauma unless they choose to talk about it with her.

Dr. Chanel Corbeil says there are signs that children have been abused, she says drastic changes in a childs behaviour usually means something is going on. (Jamie-Lee McKenzie/CBC)

"We really focus on how the medical exam is about their health and how meeting with a counsellor afterwards is about their ongoing needs and really thinking about what effects could happen later on in terms of experiencing the trauma," said Corbeil.

"Depending on the age they may not actually understand that they've experience trauma and they may come to that realization later on and if it's an older child or adolescent than they know what the stakes are and they really just want to get the help that they need, so medical piece is to see if there something that I need to address from a medical perspective and then ensuring that they're plugged in with the right services," she said.

Corbeil says there are many signs that a child has been abused, she says drastic changes in their behaviour usually means something is going on.

About the Author

Jamie-Lee McKenzie is from Kebaowek First Nation. She's a Reporter with CBC Sudbury. She's also worked as a Reporter and Associate Producer with CBC Manitoba and CBC North in Whitehorse. Reach her at jamie.mckenzie@cbc.ca or connect with her on Twitter @JamieMcKenzie_

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