SWOVA’s Consent and Sexual Assault project is entering its final year with an examination of victims’ experiences with the criminal justice system.
The first phases of the project surveyed Gulf Islands residents about their experiences with consent and sexual assault, and gathered input from people working in the social services and criminal justice fields. It made several recommendations for preventing sexual assault and improving responses for victims.
The project now seeks to connect with victims of sexual assault who have had experience with the court system in Canada in the past 10 years.
“We’ve looked at barriers and gaps in terms of entering into the [criminal justice] service, but we haven’t looked at barriers and gaps within the services themselves,” said project coordinator Sharyn Carroll last week.
“What we are hoping is to interview victims who have gone through the court process in the last 10 years.”
Victims can be of any gender, including trans or non-binary, but must be at least 14 years of age.
“We will look at the police work, going through the court system, writing your victim impact statement and all the way up to sentence hearings to see where people get dropped off the map or where those gaps are,” said Carroll.
People wanting more information or to participate should call Carroll at 250-537-1336 or email her at email@example.com between now and mid-March. She will ask individuals some preliminary questions to ensure participation is appropriate for them.
“We don’t want to retraumatize anyone,” she explained.
Katie Watters, of Victim Services at Salt Spring Community Services, added that if individuals appear to need support related to their assault or legal experiences then they can be referred to available services.
Participation in the survey is completely voluntary and confidential. No names will be attached to the feedback or information provided.
Interviews will be done by a trained social worker in a safe, contained and private setting.