Sexual assault is everyone’s issue

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Women's Resources, By Michaela MacLachlan

Awareness week embraced, support by community

The month of April doesn’t just mark the beginning of spring; it’s also Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).

What exactly is sexual assault? Sexual assault is any forced, unwanted, nonconsensual sexual activity and it’s against the law. The following facts and stats are from Statistics Canada:

  • One out of four girls, and one out of six boys, will be sexually assaulted by the age of 16;
  • 80 to 85 per cent of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim;
  • Sexual assault can happen to ANYONE regardless of age, race, ethnicity, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation or ability; and
  • Sexual assault is the most underreported crime. It’s estimated that nine out of 10 sexual assaults aren’t reported.

In honor of SAAM, the Central Nova Women’s Resource Centre — along with the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre — hosted many different events throughout the month, ranging from traffic stops with the town police and the RCMP to presentations, film screenings and a Walk for Awareness.

We would like to thank all of the wonderful people who joined us in showing their support for each of these events. A special mention goes out to the Free Masons who joined us for our Awareness Walk on April 29. We were so impressed that four of these men traveled all the way from Digby to show their support.

Most of all I would like to thank Margaret Maugher, executive director and counselling therapist at the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre, for all her hard work in organizing the SAAM Awareness Walk and for all the work she does in our community for sexual assault survivors and their families.

If you don’t know about the Sexual Assault Centre already, Maugher is the sole staff member and works hard to provide counselling, programs and outreach services for men, women and transgender individuals in Nova Scotia. She provides one-on-one client-centered, trauma-informed counselling and support to survivors, their families and friends free of charge.

She is also be partnering with Bridges to co-facilitate a support/healing group for men who have experienced sexual abuse or assault. To find out more about this support group contact Bridges at 902-897-6665 or the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre at 902-897-4366.

Maugher has also collaborated with the CNWRC on a new initiative to provide new and efficient community services to aid in better care for sexual assault survivors.

If you would like more information on any of the services offered at the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre, check out the website at www.colchestersac.ca or call 902-897-4366. No referral is necessary.

Sexual assault is neither a woman’s nor a man’s issue; it’s everyone’s issue. Get informed and get involved!

Michaela MacLachlan is the administrative coordinator for the Central Nova Women’s Resource Centre. She lives in Truro.

Organizations: Colchester Sexual Assault Centre, Central Nova Women, Resource Centre Statistics Canada RCMP Free Masons

Geographic location: Digby, Nova Scotia, Truro

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