IWAV announces anonymous sexual assault reporting

Most sexual assault survivors make the complex and difficult decision to not report a sexual assault to police. They may be reluctant to engage with the criminal legal system for various reasons, or they choose not to report because they know the person who has assaulted them — a reality in up to 80% of all sexual assault cases. It’s one of the most underreported crimes in Canada, with around 90% of all cases unreported.

On Salt Spring and the other Southern Gulf Islands, sexual assault survivors now have another option. They can go through a third party agency to make a simple and anonymous report of a sexual assault. This is called Third Party Reporting (TPR). The agency submits information to the police on the behalf of the survivor. For survivors on the islands, the third party is the Sexual Assault Response Program (SARP) at IWAV (Islanders Working Against Violence).

Here’s how it works: With the help of the SARP coordinator, the survivor provides the information and fills out a simple form at the IWAV office. The coordinator then submits the detailed information without the survivor’s name and acts as a bridge between the survivor and the police.

The police enter that information, including the perpetrator’s name, into an online database that tracks repeat offenders and patterns of behaviour of people who commit sexual assaults. If the police ask for more information about the assault, the survivor chooses whether or not to provide more information.

The sexual assault could be one that is recent or one that happened many years ago — there’s no time limit. With TPR, survivors can share what happened to them in a safe and confidential way without the fear of being arrested, deported, believed, or judged. It’s an opportunity for survivors to ask questions, get connected to other resources, and be supported in making informed decisions about their care and healing.

In a few instances, survivors cannot use TPR, such as when a child is at risk of harm, if the safety of a person or the public is at imminent risk, or if the sexual assault occurred in an intimate or domestic partnership or relationship. TPR is rarely used for survivors under 19, but it can be used in certain circumstances.

IWAV knows that sexual assault is a power-based crime that can often leave survivors feeling like their sense of autonomy is taken away. That’s why IWAV’s SARP is grounded in the principles of respect, dignity, empathy, and choice. The SARP team offers a space where survivors can tell their stories and feel believed, can access services, are never pressured to report, and are always the ones leading the decision-making process.

SARP offers a 24/7 emergency support line for survivors of recent sexual assault, free counselling, information, options for reporting, and accompaniment to the hospital or the RCMP.

Learn more about the Third Party Reporting.

Read about the Sexual Assault Response Program.

Need more information? Please contact the coordinator of the Sexual Assault Response Program.

Avatar of Coreen Boucher

By Coreen Boucher

Staff Writer, Salt Spring Exchange News

December 6, 2021 3:27 PM