Pandemic or not, Victim Services is still here to help

By Lindsay Advocate

Since the onset of COVID-19, members of the Ontario Network of Victim Service Providers (ONVSP) have seen an increase in domestic violence and sexual assault calls. And with a second wave becoming increasingly turbulent, so do the lives of vulnerable people.

As such, ONVSP wants to let victims know that during the health emergency support is available. They do not need to remain in a dangerous situation.

Across Ontario there are 44 ONVSP member agencies, where staff continue to work 24/7 to ensure victims receive the vital and immediate supports they need; with modifications in place to protect everyone’s health and safety.

As we mark National Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, which has been rescheduled from late May to November 22-28 due to COVID-19, ONVSP is trying to raise awareness of the services its members offer to help victims and their families.

ONVSP members ensure victims are informed, considered, protected, and supported throughout their journey, from time of crime through any experiences with the criminal justice system, and over the long-term. Member agencies do not operate only as a referral service to community supports but provide immediate emotional and practical supports.

Each agency offers various services and programs throughout its catchment area, including, but not limited to:

– individualized in-depth safety planning

– hiding them while a treatment plan is arranged o provide for basic living needs – shelter, clothing, toiletries, food

– accessing immediate financial support

– quickly build a therapeutic rapport that facilitates open communication

– help with anticipatory guidance should they report to police and charges laid

– assist them to meet treatment requirements – replacement of government documents to be able to access treatment services and be issued any necessary medication, etc.

– non-judgemental acceptance should they run for a period of time

– transportation to safe accommodations and for medical appointments, treatments/services

“It can be distressing not knowing what services are available and how they are operating during these unprecedented times,” said Sheri MacDonald, president of the ONVSP. “But no one needs to feel alone. Please reach out for help. Victim services staff are available by phone and e-mail, and are still working with their police partners, who can dispatch team members during an emergency any time of day.”

The ONVSP encourages anyone who feels unsafe to reach out to their local victim services. If your life is in danger, contact police or phone 911.

For information on our local victim services in the Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton, click here.

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