Sexual Violence in the Strait Area
Sexual violence is a reality impacting every community across Nova Scotia and the Strait Area. Research approximates that on average one in three women and one in six men have experienced sexual violence.1-3Despite this high prevalence, however, cases of sexual assault often go unreported. Across Canada, 19 out of 20 (i.e. 95%) victims/survivors do not report incidents to police, indicating a lack of trust or limited initiative by police as common barriers to disclosure.4 Many victims/survivors also indicate shame and stigma as barriers to help-seeking.5-7For others, a lack of access to appropriate services, including limited transportation, few or no sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) in their region, and so forth, present barriers.8-10
Yet, while such a high prevalence is conducive to alarm, and noted barriers leave seemingly little hope for providers, there is evidence to suggest that sexual violence is entirely preventable.11In response to wider recognition of sexual violence as a development, health, and human rights issue, community responses are emerging globally as a potential way to address and mitigate this cycle of violence.12-14Likewise, communities across Canada, as well as internationally, have increasingly begun to implement sexual assault response and prevention strategies in the wake of global movements such as the 2017 #Me Too and Time’s Up.15Together, this information highlights the important role that Strait Area communities may play in sexual assault response and prevention. Therefore using successful response and prevention models from global communities, and guided by evidence-based research and theory, it is our goal to continue this momentum by contributing to local initiatives through advocacy, collaboration, coordination, and supportership.
Who is our target?
Our current project is set in eastern Nova Scotia, but predominantly in communities across the Strait Area. This region was identified by the Government of Nova Scotia as a priority area, and is of interest given sexual violence resources and services are often limited or found at a distance.
Mission and Guiding Principles
Our mission is not to “re-invent the wheel” by creating new and innovative resources or services. Instead, our mission is to take existing resources, and ensure that they are accessible, culturally and contextually appropriate, and utilized. In order for this to occur, several principles guide our current work:
- Community involvement — engaging community members, providers, and informal supports in a dialogue surrounding sexual violence, how to respond to victims/survivors, and for those who are interested, what further actions they may take
- Collaboration and coordination among providers — fostering supportership throughout the referral process in order to promote and facilitate effective response and prevention initiatives
- Informing future generations — involving young individuals in conversations surrounding topics such as consent and healthy relationships, increasing awareness of available resources, and developing an understanding that an individual of any gender identity, sexual orientation, race, etc. can be a victim/survivor of sexual violence
By working together, and following these principles of advocacy, collaboration, coordination, and supportership, we believe that Strait Area communities can, and will, achieve effective sexual violence response and prevention systems.
Who to contact?
My name is Avery Carter and I am the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Coordinator for Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia. If you are looking for additional information, hoping to collaborate, wishing to volunteer at an upcoming event, or have any other questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org phone (902)863-2358. I look forward to chatting and seeing you at one of our upcoming events.