During these unprecedented times the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) is thinking of survivors, their member agencies who serve them, and their colleagues and partners. The agency and their members are working tirelessly to maintain much needed sexual assault support services in Alberta.
A prevalence study completed this year showed 45% of adult Albertans have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime – two in three females and one in three males. The survey also showed that 34% of Albertans had experienced child sexual abuse – 44% of females and 24% of males.
In total 1.8 million Albertans have experienced sexual assault or abuse.
We know that times of stress and trauma, like we are currently experiencing, can be triggering to sexual assault and abuse survivors. We also know that destabilizing events like the current global pandemic combined with physical distancing measures and social isolation can not only exacerbate barriers to accessing services but can also increase the risk for both domestic and sexual violence. A 51% increase in use of Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence in the past month shows this to be the case – and underscores the importance of ensuring Albertans have access to continued specialized support.
In Alberta there are fourteen sexual assault and abuse services that provide a continuum of specialized services to individuals, families and communities, Albertans of all ages and genders.
These agencies have implemented responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and incorporated innovative ways to continue to provide support services.
- All support, information and crisis lines remain open
- Sexual assault services are enhancing crisis intervention, care support, system navigation and counselling services through telephone and online platforms
- Many Sexual Assault Services are reaching out to community partners in their regions to aid in the general crisis response to the pandemic, including supporting other front line workers as they manage compassion fatigue, anxiety, vicarious trauma and burn out
- Sexual Assault Services are offering online support groups, broadcasting live educational/support videos, and developing online education tools.
Anyone needing support can contact Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence.
One Line is available seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., with translation services in over 200 languages. Text or talk 1-866-403-8000. Chat is available through AASAS and all member agency websites. Amidst physical distancing measures across our province, Alberta’s ability to provide specialized sexual violence support through text and web-chat is more important than ever.
More details about how to connect with local support services and how sexual assault services are working very hard to maintain support services while keeping their staff, clients and communities as safe as possible can be found through links on the AASAS website https://aasas.ca/get-help/ and in the AASAS monthly newsletter.
Help is available, whenever you are ready to reach out.