Sexual Assault Advocacy Centre
Advocacy and Response Planning
We’ll stand with you at the centre of your decision making and help you understand your rights as a victim of crime. We respect your choices.
We can inform you of your options if you choose to report. We can tell you about available services, and we can go with you if you want us to.
Advocates provide culturally competent in-person accompaniment for survivors of gender-based violence to access health care, report offenses to RCMP, or attend court so that survivors are not alone during the aftermath of trauma. Advocates offer emotional and practical support, and bridge survivors to community resources. In partnership with the Island Health Forensic Nurse Examiner Program, Advocates provide 24/7 accompaniment to Cowichan Valley hospitals for survivors seeking urgent forensic medical care.
Our screened Advocates complete 100+ hours of specialized gender-based violence training over the course of one year. Training is grounded in feminist theory with a trauma-informed survivor-centered approach exploring rape culture, psychology of victim blaming, affirmative consent, impact and neurobiology of trauma, intimate partner sexual assault, colonization, equity and inclusion, marginalized communities, vicarious trauma, community engagement through social action, and collaboration with criminal justice, health care, and Indigenous service providers.
No. Survivors choose whether or not to report relationship violence or a sexualized assault to RCMP. Survivors are in control of their own story. Advocates honour the survivor’s right to navigate decision making. Survivors are never pressured, encouraged or expected to disclose an offense to anyone. Through the Advocacy program, survivors have a place to ask questions and explore options.
No. Advocacy services, crisis and non-crisis accompaniment, counseling and trauma recovery groups are free and confidential. If a survivor does not have transportation for accompanied appointments and feels unsafe to walk alone in the community, we can provide in-town taxi service to and from accompanied appointments.
We provide support, advocacy and accompaniment to survivors 13+ of all gender identities, 2SLGBTQQIA+ and non-binary community members. We support youth by consulting and creating a coordinated response with local youth serving agencies and/or school counselors.
Providing our information allows survivors to make contact with us on their own terms. If a survivor is uncomfortable, we welcome 3rd party inquiries to discuss current circumstances and risk factors. To reduce barriers, we can meet survivors with their support people at their preferred public location (doctor/counselor’s office), or the survivor can invite their support people to attend an initial visit with them.
Honouring client’s resistance to oppression and abuse and cultivating dignity for survivors of abuse and associated trauma is Warmland Women’s Support Services Society’s Response-based Practice to client-centered counseling in the Cowichan Valley.
A client-centered approach invites the client to take an active role in their counseling with the counselor being supportive not directive. The client is at the centre of their own decision making. Guidance comes from the client’s instincts and the counselor becomes an ally and advocate walking alongside the client. The counselor contributes expertise when appropriate to expand upon the client’s understanding of the root cause of their struggles and suggests referrals to appropriate resources to build the client’s support network. The counselor supports the client to discover their strengths and believe in themselves. A client-centered counselor encourages the client to develop a relationship with ‘Self’ fully aware that reconciliation with Self is at the heart of all healing. Goals of a client-centered approach are increased self-esteem, independence and openness to self-mastery.
People are capable of self-healing and personal growth which leads to self-actualization, an important concept in client-centered counseling. Self-actualization refers to the tendency of all human beings to move forward, grow, and reach their full potential.
Whenever people are abused we do many things to oppose the abuse and keep our dignity and self-respect. We always try to reduce, prevent or stop the abuse in some way. These responses to abuse are called “resistance”. Perpetrators know that we will resist abuse and either plan in advance to sabotage our resistance or take action in the moment to interfere with or stop our resistance. People tend not to notice how we resist abuse. For example, relationship violence can be very dangerous so women will resist in ways that are not obvious. Hidden acts of resistance are our safest responses to violence and yet make us vulnerable to the judgments of others who do not see our responses as actions that increase our safety or preserve our dignity.
A response-based approach also considers the language used to describe the abuse or violence. Often the words we choose minimize the abusive acts, dismiss perpetrator responsibility, conceal our acts of resistance, and place blame on the victim. Language affects how we interpret acts of violence and therefore how we respond whether it be criminal justice system intervention or emotional support.
Response-based counseling examines not only the client’s response to abuse but the responses received when they reported the violence. Was the client believed or dismissed? Was the perpetrator held accountable or was the client blamed? How does this response from others impact the client? Their view of themself? The likelihood of reporting abuse in the future?