Our collective attention has turned to the experience of Black and Indigenous folks when interacting with police. Systemic racism in all corners of our society has put the lives and safety and wellbeing of Indigenous folks and people of colour at risk. This is especially true for Trans folks, sex workers, and others who are marginalized in our communities.
I want to tell you about one model that I think is working, one model of community-based care. The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) at the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre supports survivors in the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault and coordinates the care they need. Survivors don’t need to talk to police to get medical care or even to get a forensic exam and have evidence collected. Survivors are offered crisis emotional support, equipped with all the information they need, and supported to make the choices best for them. For those who do want to speak to police, they can do so at VSAC’s integrated clinic and most never have to attend a police station. Police reporting options are available with the help and support of our SART team and the clinic prioritizes the safety and well-being of survivors, including gun lock-up.
It is those who are most likely to be targeted for sexual assault who are also most likely to have experienced marginalization in formal institutional settings or to have trauma associated with police and hospital settings. Community organizations are best positioned to take on this care. By supporting community-based services, we can provide trauma-informed, survivor-centred, and culturally-appropriate care.