To the survivors coming forward now, to the survivors who aren’t able to come forward, to the survivors who are struggling seeing the reports of violence and abuse, we see you, we believe you and you are NOT alone.
There is no one right way to cope with the trauma you have experienced, your path to healing is your own and only you get to decide what is best for you. SACHA will never pressure you to report and you deserve support no matter what your choice is. There are many reasons why survivors fear reporting and your ability to choose what you need is what matters most right now. There are options for the path you choose to take. If you choose to make a police report know that SACHA can set up phone accompaniments, you do not have to do this alone. To set this up you can call SACHA’s 24 Hour Support Line at 905.5254162. You can also choose to report anonymously through SACHA. To do so you can call SACHA’s business line 905.525.4573. A counsellor will return your call and schedule a time to complete the report with you. This can take approximately 1.5 hours and the report does ask some heavy and detailed questions but our counselor will be virtually present with you throughout the process. You can report a sexual assault through anonymous reporting with SACHA no matter how long ago the assault occurred and SACHA will not provide any of your personal details to police. It is also important for you to know that we will support you if you decide that you do not want to report in any way. We can provide information about your options but everything is your choice. You can access our counselling services free of charge no matter the type of sexual violence you experienced or when it happened. You can also call our 24 Hour Support Line if you are unsure about what happen to you and you want to ask questions, if you were affected by reading about the violence and abuse in the media, or if you just need someone to listen and always believe you.
To our community members who are witnessing these reports of violence and abuse in our community, in local restaurants and at McMaster University, we ask you to always start by listening and believing survivors. Our society often finds any way it can to put blame on survivors but no one asks for this, it is never a survivor’s fault. This is rape culture and we must always place blame where it belongs. We cannot take away blame from perpetrators by asking what made this happen, it is not about the survivor’s actions, past, or relationship to the perpetrator that caused this. Sexual violence happens because the perpetrator made that choice. They made a choice to cause harm and that is where our focus must be, not on their past, position, or accomplishments. We know that it is predatory behavior to target people who are drunk, high, otherwise incapacitated, or in a position of less power as an employee or a student. We must always call out violence for it is, regardless of who is perpetrating it. We must focus on the survivors and on their needs. We ask you to remember the many reasons why survivors choose different paths, why they may come forward or stay silent, why they may go to the police or never report. Some survivors stay silent and never report to the police because they are in fear of police, fear of retaliation personally or professionally, they are avoiding the effects of retraumatization, they know it will be too painful to retell their story, they don’t trust the system to find justice, they want to focus on their healing and current situation, they worry that they won’t be believed or that they will be blamed. We all have a collective responsibility to work towards a society free of violence. You can start by letting survivors know that they have allies, that they have a community of people around them who will not tolerate or ignore violence and abuse, and who will always believe survivors.