BOW VALLEY – Survivors of sexual violence now have a place for their voices to be heard 24/7 via talk and/or text after the recent launch of One Line throughout the province, including the Bow Valley.
The new service is available locally from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven day a week with access to interpretation services in more than 200 languages, including Cree, those calling outside the hours will still be able to talk to support personnel at a call centre in Red Deer.
“Having a phone line that’s specific for sexual violence, that is really openly saying these are the messages we hold, we believe you and we know it’s not your fault,” said Larissa Dillabough, manager of programs and services with YWCA Banff.
“[It] can be really powerful to give people the confidence to reach out and take that step to get help – to take the first step to tell what happened to them.”
The new One Line, created by the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services with funding by the Alberta Government, goes hand in hand with the Bow Valley Sexual Violence Response Team launched earlier this year .
In the works for a number of years, the sexual violence response team was introduced to help sexual violence survivors and those who assist them through emotional support and assistance with legal, medical and therapeutic service.
“There [was] limited access for people to know who to reach out to and who to call when they are wanting to access support and there’s also a fear that people will not be believed,” Dillabough said.
More than 90 per cent of survivors do not report their assaults to police, making sexual violence the most underreported crime in Canada, according to a fact sheet released last year by the provincial government.
Moving forward with the recent movements such as #MeToo and #IBelieveYou, organizers think the One Line launch is a step in the right direction, as the demand for more resources continues to increase and the technology provides access, control, anonymity and psychological safety for survivors making it “easier for them to reach out.”
“People can phone, text or chat to get support regarding sexual violence and that means a lot to people in our community because there are limited resources available and it’s a way people can get connected to local resources and also get support 24 hour a day,” Dillabough said.
The One Line launch ceremony was streamed across the province in Banff, Bonnyville, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Lloydminster, Medicine Hat, Sherwood Park and Stettler, with the line available to survivors as of Monday (May 6).
The Bow Valley Sexual Violence Response Team is available to youth and adults ages 12 and over, to all genders from Monday to Saturday across the Bow Valley. For more information call 403-760-3200.
One Line is available all hours, every day at 1-866-403-8000.