More and more people are coming forward to speak about sexual violence resulting in Waypoints needing to hire additional staff.
Back in March, the 12 sexual assault centres a part of the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services received much-needed funds from the province to help expand their services.
Across Alberta, groups like Waypoints have seen the need for their service go up 53 per cent – resulting in many starting a wait list.
“It keeps growing,” said Alicia Teasdale, Sexual Assault Program Director. “When they come forward and they reach out for help, to be met with we’re here to help but we can’t help for weeks is what we call a secondary betrayal.”
She believes a big reason for the increase has to do with the #metoo movement.
‘There’s been a lot of momentum gained, this last year, in particular, it has been quite revolutionary – it removed so many barriers and really did shatter the silence and made people say they could come forward.”
Now with help coming from the province, Waypoints is now adding four additional positions.
One of the jobs will be helping individuals with police and court supports, something they’ve never offered before.
“It’s a huge ask and we’re really happy to hopefully be able to fill that position,” added Teasdale.
They will also be looking to add a second trauma counsellor.
The last two positions will focus on outreach service to the rural communities. Waypoints does have an outreach team for domestic and family violence but nothing with their sexual assault program.
‘The need for rural and outreach services is crucial. Before, we were really only providing services in the Fort McMurray, urban area.”
They currently only have enough funds for one year, however, they’re hoping they can somehow continue to be funded to maintain these positions.
Sexual Violence Awareness Month
Meanwhile, the Alberta government is also proclaiming May as ‘Sexual Violence Awareness Month.’
“Every Albertan deserves to live free from sexual harassment and assault,” said Premier Rachel Notley, in a release.
“Sexualized violence is a crime of power and control, and governments have a duty to lead, to offer hope and healing to survivors, to make workplaces and campuses safe and to tackle the inequality at the root of this violence that most impacts women and girls.”
Throughout the month, the government will be partnering with groups across the province to help survivors.
This includes building a culture of consent, improving the way social, health, justice and education systems respond to sexual violence, and funding ‘frontline’ services.