By Andrea Arnold
Valley residents who have experienced a violent sexual act at any point in their lives, can find help through Robson Valley Community Services.
This service is available to anyone between Dome Creek and Albreda including Mount Robson. Cat Crowley-Wied, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator & Stopping the Violence Outreach Worker. “We will also help transient persons, visitors to the valley, or those here working”
The Sexualized Assault Response Program (SARP) was launched through RVCS in November 2021. In August 2022 they established the around the clock support program.
Crowley-Wied, has been working as a part of SARP since the program began offering services in the valley.
SARP staff provide safe and trauma-informed response through crisis response, advocacy within the various systems of care, resources and referrals. The information they provide allows victims to make informed decisions.
If people are in need of SARP support, they can call 1-844-324-2004. During business hours the call will be directed to RVCS reception SARP can be requested. During off hours the call is automatically answered and by pressing two, the caller will be put through directly to the SARP responder.
Crowley-Wied is usually the responder. There are other trained staff that step in when she is unavailable.
“We help people explore their legal, reporting, forensic, medical and aftercare options,” she said.
The SARP staff can also provide clients a third party reporting option.
“Victims/survivors can come to us and complete their report while remaining anonymous,” said Crowley-Wied. “We then present the report to the RCMP for the individual. If the police would like more information, we can bridge the gap between the RCMP and the client if further action is needed.”
The medical and forensic support that SARP responders can provide moves beyond the distribution of information. It includes accompanying clients to clinics for appointments upon request and even staying for the duration of the appointment if the client asks.
There is a sexual assault nurse examiner that will travel to either the Valemount Health Centre or the hospital in McBride, based on the location of the need. The nurse is also able to be the first point of contact for individuals looking for help.
Crowley-Wied says that forensic testing conducted by that same nurse needs to be done as soon as possible after the sexualized assault, but that samples can be effective up to seven days following the assault. Evidence can be held on ice for up to a year while a victim makes the decision to either file a report, go through the third party reporting process or even to report at all.
Crowley-Wied says that the availability of the whole program is absolutely necessary. The SARP staff are working to spread awareness and education through social media, posters and the contacts they make through the other RVCS programs. The SARP program is also able to offer survivors safe shelter through the RVCS Safe Home Program if they need a safe and confidential place to stay following a sexualized assault.
“Since the 24/7 calls option became available, we have been getting calls and have provided support for people of all ages,” she said. If there are individuals who are concerned for a friend Crowley-Wied welcomes those calls as well.
“We can help you figure out how best to support your friend,” she said. “Or, give us a call if you have any questions.”
RVCS has the one phone number that allows victims/survivors of violence/sexualized violence to reach help. 1-844-324-2004. The system is very user-friendly. Dialing 1 reaches Safe Home Information and Support Program, and 2 reaches the Sexual Assault Response Program.