May is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

By Lindsay Advocate

May is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

In Ontario, May is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. There is no doubt that at the government level, great strides have been made in raising public consciousness and putting steps in place to prevent sexual assault.

New laws, programs and resources have been adapted, but there is still a lot of work to be done. It is estimated that one in three Canadian women will experience sexual assault as an adult and sadly, it is still on the rise, especially with the growth of human sex trafficking which is currently in the forefront of the news.

Although Women’s Resources of Kawartha Lakes recognizes the month of May as an important one to raise awareness in preventing the devastating violence and aftermath associated with sexual assault, it is our job to do this work 12 months of the year.

Women’s Resources provides a safe haven and housing for women fleeing from abusive relationships, including sexual abuse, however we are also here to provide education, awareness and support through our resource centre and outreach programs.

Bridges of Kawartha Lakes, our hub program, is available for walk-in service on Mondays, 10 am to 3 pm or by appointment at other times. Bridges allows women to receive more timely and effective help, accessing multiple social service agencies under one roof, providing emotional and practical support.

One of the 18 agencies the women are able to access through Bridges is the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre and clearly they are a valuable resource for women in need. Bridges currently does not receive any Ministry funding so we are dependent on community donations to continue the program.

We have recently taken on the Family Court Support Program, helping women to navigate the legal system including understanding/accessing the many services available through the courts; Legal Aid and how to find a lawyer; help in documenting incidents of abuse for court proceedings; assistance in applying for emergency custody and access orders; and assistance in applying for restraining orders or peace bonds.

Women’s Resources hosted a 2 day workshop in 2017, addressing the issue of human sex trafficking, right here in the City of Kawartha Lakes. Speakers, one of them a survivor, very eloquently provided a horrific insight into the forms of control and brutality endured when forced into prostitution. The treatment is inhuman and needs to be stopped at all costs. Women’s Resources counsellors are learning how to help women fleeing human trafficking situations as it requires specialized supports, some of which are provided by partner agencies in the community.

Our Child Witness Program is a group program offered to children ages four to 12 who have witnessed or experienced violence in their home. Moms are also supported through this program. Studies show that witnessing violence leads to significant psychological, physical, social, emotional and learning difficulties and these children are at risk of continuing the cycle of violence.

We have a teen counsellor who offers one to one counselling and group sessions. She also arranges presentations and attends fairs at the high schools, promoting healthy relationships, answering questions and distributing literature and information to this most vulnerable and impressionable sector.

We offer public speaks to educate and inform about woman abuse, including sexual assault. Our resource centre has a library with over 1,500 books and DVDs on a wide range of topics including domestic abuse and sexual abuse. Each year literature and educational information is distributed to professional health care agencies, educational institutions, lawyer’s offices and social service agencies in the City of Kawartha Lakes to ensure women have access to the help they need when they need it, wherever they happen to live. Our Program Manager and Residential Services Manager work closely with Kawartha Lakes Police Services to ensure they are prepared and understand how to support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Our 18 bed emergency shelter, our eight unit second stage housing program in Fenelon Falls and our counselling programs are the only services specifically for abused women in our community, including those who are sexually abused.

Women’s Resources staff and volunteers work tirelessly to be able to provide appropriate supports for women and their children leaving abusive situations. For 28 years we have strived to provide the care and counselling victims need to make a life free from the nightmare of abuse many of us can’t even imagine.

We can’t do this work alone. Community donations help us do more.  If you would like to help, please contact Loretta Wood, 705-878-4285 Ext. 202 or

If you need help, our confidential crisis line is available 24/7 -705-878-3662 or 1-800-565-5350.

— By Carolyn Fox, Fund Development Director

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