Response and advocacy
Special Considerations for Minors:
Here is what to expect when accessing emergency services at the Chinook Regional Hospital.
- For emergency care within 5 days of the assault, please access the emergency department of the Chinook Regional Hospital. Identify you’ve been assaulted and need medical care. The emergency room will contact a support worker from the YWCA’s Amethyst Project. The support worker will review your options for medical care and reporting. Currently you have three options:
- You can choose to not report to police but still access medical care, in which case you may receive treatment of injuries, pregnancy prevention, testing/treatment for STIs by the ER doctor, or;
- You can choose to report the assault to police, in which case the SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) will be contacted. SART is a team of specially trained female doctors which will provide medical care, pregnancy prevention, testing/treatment for STIs, as well as, collect evidence for the purpose of criminal investigation. You have the opportunity to provide consent for each procedure in the exams, or;
- You can choose to access the third option. In this case, SART can collect evidence which can be stored by the Amethyst Project for up to one year. In this situation you do not have to report to police immediately, giving you the option to report within that year which evidence is stored.
- If an individual accesses non-emergent care they can choose to access services from the Sexual Health Resource Centre (if under the age of 24), and/or family doctor.
- If you reside outside of Lethbridge you may still go to Chinook Regional Hospital or your local ER department.
Retrieved from www.uleth.ca/sexual-violence-information Jan 2017.
Sexual & Reproductive Health services response to sexual assault:
If a client presents to Sexual & Reproductive Health (SRH) services South Zone and reports a sexual assault:
- If the sexual assault was < 72 hours ago, the Sexual Reproductive Health Nurse (SRHN) will refer client to the Emergency Room (ER) for assessment and follow-up. A courtesy phone call will be made to the ER by the SRHN to notify and prepare them for the arrival of the client.
- If the client declines a visit to ER, then the Sexual Reproductive Health Nurse (SRHN) will refer the client to his/her family physician, and provide a courtesy call to the physician clinic to notify and prepare them for the arrival of the client.
- If the client does not have a family physician or refuses to see a physician, then the client can be offered Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and Blood-Borne Pathogens (BBP) testing, provision of emergency contraception (EC), and/or pregnancy testing (PT) within the scope of services for a SRHN in conjunction with CDC services.
- The SRHN will contact and refer client to Lethbridge or Medicine Hat CDC services; CDC services will initiate Follow-up of Blood and Body Fluid Exposures and initiate STI/BBP serology and Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV) Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) if indicated.
After discussion with CDC services, the SRHN can offer:
- STI testing
- Emergency Contraception
- Pregnancy Testing
- Birth Control Counselling
- After discussion with CDC services, the SRHN can offer:
- Emotional support and referral to counselling and other support services as needed
Sexual assault is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. You can file a report with the Lethbridge Police or RCMP which may result in obtaining a No-Contact or Restraining Order and/or criminal charges being laid against your assailant.
If you choose to file a report with police you will also have access to services from Victim’s Services who will provide support through the criminal process.
To file a police report you would:
The Police Service recognizes that reporting a sexual assault is difficult but it is important for survivors to know we are here to help. In Canada there is no statute of limitations for sexual assault offences. The decision to report to law enforcement is entirely yours.
How do I report a sexual assault?
* Call 911. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911. Help will come to you, wherever you are.
* Contact the Lethbridge Police Service. Call the non-emergency reporting line at 403-328-4444 or attend the station in person.
* Attend the hospital. If you are at the hospital or being treated for injuries resulting from a sexual assault, tell a medical professional that you wish to report the crime and a police officer will attend. You can also choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam. It is the responsibility of the police to conduct a thorough investigation. The Lethbridge Police Service will also provide you with ongoing support throughout the entire process.
Our goal is to identify, arrest and prosecute the person(s) responsible. During the course of the investigation many steps will be taken, including where possible, every effort to provide an interviewer of the victim’s preferred gender. When you report a sexual assault a police officer will take a statement from you Save & Exit to complete an initial report.
Depending on the nature of the sexual assault, the officer may ask you to go to the hospital to treat any injuries and to have a sexual assault evidence kit taken. The kit will collect forensic evidence. The officer may also seize any clothing or other articles that may contain forensic evidence. As the investigation proceeds, the officer will keep the complainant updated on its progress. If there is sufficient evidence or grounds to support charges, charges will be sworn and police will continue to assist the complainant throughout the duration of the court process.
Victim/Witness Services (VWS) for Lethbridge Police
Victim/Witness Services is a 24/7 police-based victim assistance program attached to the Lethbridge Police Service. The program provides practical and emotional support, referrals and court assistance to victims/witnesses of crime and/or tragedy in the City of Lethbridge. The attending police officer will ask the Duty Staff Sergeant to contact Victim/Witness Services (VWSU) requesting the team of Crisis Support Workers to attend the location of the victim.
Volunteer Crisis Support Workers are “first responders” who provide practical support during the first few critical hours after a crime or tragedy. VWSU serves as a central information point for those who have been victimized, providing updates on the status of an investigation and/or court cases.
- We can provide a listening ear, comfort and reassurance. You are not alone. It is okay to feel the way you feel. Many people who experience crime/tragedy share very similar feelings.
- We can talk to you on the telephone; visit you in your home or at the hospital.
- We can provide court preparation so that you may feel more comfortable if called to court as a witness.
- We can accompany you to Crown Prosecutor appointments and to court appearances.
VWS will attend the victim’s location and provide assistance the victim may require such as:
- Information on sexually transmitted disease, infection, pregnancy, and abortion,
- Support and necessary transportation,
- Victim Impact Statement/Financial Benefits information/Request for Restitution
- Court support,
- Ongoing emotional support,
- Referrals and resource information.
Ensuring you have a variety of referral choices that fit your needs is an important part of our service.
These may include:
- Counselling services
- Crisis lines
- Police Investigations
The Court System:
The Court System:
Need info about the court system
Post Secondary Reporting Systems:
YWCA Amethyst Project:
The Amethyst Project focuses on education, training, advocacy, support and awareness to address both sexual violence and intimate partner violence. The Amethyst Project addresses sexual violence to support the healing and recovery process of sexual violence survivors. The Amethyst Project is part of the YWCA Lethbridge & District and is offered to the general public with no fee to access our services. There are different ways that one can access our services, either through hospital/police referrals, through our office phone number or in person, and through education and training. In the hospital, the Amethyst Project provides three different courses of action that one can take directly following a sexual assault. The Amethyst Project provides emotional support and referrals to other agencies in the community until they no longer need our services.
Sexual Assault Centre
(Chinook Sexual Assault Centre):
Crisis, Support, System Navigation, Counselling Preparation, Police & Court Support, Peer Support Groups, Support for Supporters
It is always the right time to deal with your sexual assault/abuse- no matter what age, no matter how you identify. Recent or historic, taking care of yourself is important – you are important! Here is what to expect when you connect with the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre:
You can call anonymously, message us over social media, email or drop by the centre and will be met by a System Navigator. System Navigator is our way to describe a trained advocate. The System Navigator will listen to what you see as your needs – without judgement. You don’t need to tell us details of the assault or abuse, only if you want to. You are in the driver’s seat, determining what you want to tell us, if you wish to report the assault, or not, and determining your goals for what you would like to see happen with your life. The Systems Navigator will work with you to achieve those goals and help you find the grounding techniques that work best for you so that you can rest more easily and to deal with triggering events.
If you wish to report to a policing agency, we can attend with you for support. We will make sure you are aware of your rights and walk through the process with you – including court accompaniment. The System Navigator will keep in touch with the Crown Prosecutor on your case, advocate with police and assist you in application for benefits, court orders, and victim statements.
If counselling is a goal, the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre will help you get prepared by ensuring you are ready – so if there are housing issues, we may assist in connecting you with services that can help you get stable housing; if you are coping by using drugs or alcohol, we may support you until such a time that you can attend counselling without using. If you are waiting for counselling to start we can assist by ensuring you have support by connecting with one of our peer support groups.