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New province-wide tool supports assault survivors

On May 6, The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services launched Alberta's One Line for Sexual Violence, a new talk-text-and-chat service for victims of sexual violence. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Airdrie P.O.W.E.R. (Protecting Our Women with Emergency Resources) is praising the launch of a new talk-text-and-chat service for victims of sexual violence. The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) launched Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence May 6. The province-wide platform will provide Albertans with private and confidential support, along with information regarding sexual violence.

“I think it’s something that has been needed for a very long time and I think it’s a service that will help build the trust with women,” said Crystal Boys, president of Airdrie P.O.W.E.R. – an organization that provides women in the Airdrie area with emergency resources and education.

According to a release from Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA), the demand for a service like this is increasing.

“Alberta’s #IBelieveYou campaign and the #MeToo movement have dramatically increased demand for sexual assault services, driving up requests for support and counselling. In some centres, demand has more than doubled,” according to CCASA.

One Line is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, and is available in more than 200 languages. Boys said the accessibility, privacy and confidential aspects are crucial.

“Being able to call anonymously really opens up the doors to a lot more women reaching out for assistance…. I think this hotline will help women report a lot more assaults than they normally would,” she said.

Boys added it’s important victims of sexual assault are getting the help they need.

“[Sexual assault can be] mortifying, embarrassing…so, being able to make these reports, whether somebody is charged or not, is not the biggest issue at hand,” she said. “It’s whether these women get the support and the resources they need to cope with what has happened to them.”

Boys said the most important thing for survivors of assault is to be believed. She said the One Line service aligns with the Alberta-wide campaign #IBelieveYou, which encourages a positive and compassionate response to victims of sexual assault.

According to AASAS, the #IBelieveYou campaign has reached nearly 50 million people online.

Boys said the program is a step in the right direction, and she’s glad to see a service that is immediately available to Albertans dealing with sexual violence.

“I think that’s the catalyst in this being successful and more women getting help, simply because calling other agencies and getting an appointment with a counsellor…is daunting,” she said. “It takes a long time. But for a woman to be able to get access to resources immediately is very important because, with sexual assault, time is of the essence.”

One Line, a partnership with the Alberta government, can be reached at 1-866-403-8000.

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