More supports for sexual violence victims in rural Alberta

·2 min read

More supports for rural sexual violence survivors is coming in the form of $1.2 million to expand frontline supports provincewide.

Tuesday’s announcement from the province said the funds will expand services including counselling, crisis response and outreach supports in rural communities.

“With 43 per cent of Albertans experiencing at least one incident of sexual violence in their lifetime, along with growing numbers of survivors reaching out to sexual assault centres for support, additional funding is now more important than ever,” said Deb Tomlinson, executive director of Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services(AASAS).

A study by AASAS says about 1.8 million -- approximately 43 per cent of Albertans -- have experienced sexual violence.

Sexual violence affects men and women, with two out of three women and one out of three men having experienced it, according to a release from the province.

As many of 95 percent of sexual violence survivors do not report their assaults to police, said the release.

The 2021 provincial budget has allocated approximately $12.6 million for sexual violence prevention.

Funding will be provided to 15 agencies in Alberta along with the AASAS.

The funds will be distributed based on a percentage of annual grant allocations to all provincially-funded sexual assault centres.

The Hinton Friendship Centre will receive $192,000, and the Dragonfly Counselling and Support Centre in Bonnyville will receive $180,000 to expand their geographical areas of service.

“The ability to provide therapeutic services closer to home will be less traumatic for the individuals fleeing,” said Lisa Higgerty, executive director of the Hinton Friendship Centre.

“The impacts of the funding will be lifelong for the participants.”

To connect with supports for sexual violence survivors, anyone can call the Alberta One Line at 1-866-403-8000 to find support near them.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

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