Psychosocial support and health care
An act of sexual violence can affect the victim’s body and spirit in many ways. You may have physical injuries that require immediate attention or eventually need individual therapy to help you deal with problems related to anxiety.
A counsellor at the Sexual Violence Helpline will refer you to the resource in your region that will be able to help you, based on your age, sexual and gender identity, etc.
The mandate of designated centres providing medico-social services for sexual assault victims is to help recent victims—i.e., those were assaulted within the past 6 months. Although certain types of forensic evidence can only be collected up to 5 days after an assault, the medical team can respond to urgent needs up to 6 months after the assault, including:
- making sure the victim is safe
- preventing pregnancy
- detecting, treating or preventing sexually transmitted or blood-borne infections (STBBIs)
- detecting and treating injuries.
Victims can develop relationship problems, psychological disorders or behaviours that could be dangerous for their health. Depending on your preferences and what you are going through, you can arrange one-on-one therapy, join an online support group or do relaxation exercises on your own at home. A counsellor at the Sexual Violence Helpline will listen to your concerns to help you to decide what is best for you and provide the appropriate referrals.
Psychological healing can also occur with the help of alternative justice programs. Some people are intent on understanding the reasons behind their assailant’s actions, while others want mechanisms to be set up to prevent similar violence in the future. These programs are generally based on reparation that seeks to repair harm.
Support for loved ones
The family and friends of a victim of sexual violence can also be emotionally affected by the event. There are several organizations that offer support services to help them deal with their distress and work through a healing process.