creating a sexual assault centre

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creating a sexual assault centre

I live in a large, mostly rural  area in ON that has no sexual assault centre and very limited (and in my opinion, degendered) services for women who have experienced sexual assault. I am on the board of our region's only women's shelter and we have decided to just move forward ourselves and start a SAC with a crisis line, accompanyment and advocacy service and we can juggle some crisis councelling into this first stage as well. We do eventually plan a full service sexual assault centre with community education and a women's resource centre. .

We have been very fortunate to have an established neighbouring area Sexual Sssault Centre run by fabulous feminist women who will train and mentor us through these first stages. They have had their funding for many years so this may be our real challenge as we will be starting from scratch.

Does anyone have experience setting a SAC up? Any tips? Any pitfalls? Any experience w new funding?

I've been on many SAC sites and funding varies---I know that the ministry that funds some of our beds in the shelter won't fund SAC---in ON it seems to be MAG. Anyone in the know?

I'm hoping to avoid any snarls by hearing other women's experiences.


Lee Lakeman

Hello Morningstar

Congratualtions on organizing yourself to fight against sexual assault for yourself and other women!  It's great to know there will be yet another group of women on the front line for us all. 

It is difficult to answer your questions directly without more information about where you are and what you need and how long you can hold out without some government or community money. 

Some of us had to wait as along as a decade which usually means going without paid staff.  In other places the government with pay for para professinal salaries but no money to organize or protest or lobby or advocate.  In some of the provinces you would get support immediately although no center has all it needs or all it can imagine using productively. 

In BC for instance where my center struggles, the provincial government pays NO sexual assault center contracts: what few centers have survived have hung on with small victim assistance project funds or projects that pay for one counsellor and no operating monies.  We are hoping to make this an election issue with the UN recommendations criticizingCanada's failure to comply with it's CEDAW obligations (UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women)

However it is not so bad in some places: Quebec for instance has supported a provicial coalition of sexual asssualt centers in which each is a collective of women with a strong feminist basis of unity and a provincial association that helps new centers start. I think the provincial associaiton in Ontario might do the same. 

Of course in all cases each center has only a small contract and that contract probably limits them to service work so it is still not secure and there is no source of funds for the equality seeking nature of our work. (Note that the Harper government insists that Staus of Women not fund groups that advocate or lobby for change as if there was any othewr reasont to exist.  Can one imagine that we exist only to hold the hands of those beaten and raped and not to end the beating and rapes?

In our opinion as CASAC ( the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers) the federal government has an obligation to fund that equality seeking function of our work and to consult with us (as the appropriate ngo) on the questions of rape law, policing rape and the impact of rape on the lives of women in Canada

The conference in U of Ottawa last week was surely new proof of how bad things are in the area of polcing violence against women

If you write to me directly as [email protected] I will be happy to put you in touch with whomever we think might be helpful to you and your group

Meanwhile thanks for your work and your drive to assist all of us in achieving a just peace for girls and women.