A poster designed for Surrey Women’s Centre by the Tugboat Group.

Sexual assault: Connect the dots

Surrey Women's Centre campaign lets women know they can report attacks anonymously.

You’ve been sexually assaulted. You’re terrified and humiliated and you assume no one will believe you if you tell them. So you don’t call police.

Your response isn’t unusual. It’s a common scenario. Nine out of 10 women who are sexually assaulted in Canada each year will not report it to police.

There reasons are plentiful. The majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the victim knows, so there may be complicated relationship or family issues. Some victims fear retaliation from their attackers if they speak up, while others have dealt with the justice system before and have little faith they’ll be taken seriously. If an assault involved drugs or alcohol, a woman may not even realize she’s been victimized.

And of course, there’s the overwhelming feeling of shame. Most women just want to forget it ever happened.

“There’s nothing that ends a conversation more quickly than ‘I’ve been sexually assaulted.’ It’s just not something in society that we talk about,” says Nancy Drewery, a community leader with the Surrey Women’s Centre’s (SWC) Surrey Mobile Assault Response Team. “Sexual assault is invisible.”

A new campaign from the women’s centre aims to let victims know it’s okay to come forward. And they can do it anonymously.

Even if a victim is too afraid to report an assault to police, they can talk to a community-based victim services worker without identifying themselves.

The program is called Connect the Dots and involves a partnership with six other community-based victim services programs in Langley, Maple Ridge, Tri-Cities, Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack.

According to Drewery, so-called Third Party Reporting – an existing provincial policy allowing victims to make a report without giving their names – is simply not well known to women or police.

Community workers can collect an array of information from someone who has been assaulted and pass that information on to police investigators, who can establish if there are any similarities or patterns between attacks or attackers.

Seemingly small details – like whether a perpetrator had coarse hair or a unique tattoo or did or said something unusual – can end up being valuable information that can help identify an offender.

“This isn’t about investigation,” said Drewery. “It’s about intelligence collecting. It’s really about being able to catch serial predators by having MOs (modus operandi) that eventually, over time, potentially match.”

Anonymous reports are only available for crimes involving sexual offences and women must be 19 or older.

Drewery said often, once a woman begins to open up anonymously and myths about reporting sex assault are shattered, they’ll feel more comfortable and take the next step and file a police report.

To learn more about anonymous sexual assault reporting, call their local community-based victim services program. To contact Surrey Women’s Centre, call 604-583-1295.


Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: The day 28,000 Lollapalooza-goers rocked Cloverdale in 1994

Fans share memories of drugs, bad Smashing Pumpkins, Nick Cave walk-off and ‘letdown’ of Surrey date

Surrey veteran feels pinch from COVID-19 after cancelled surgery

Caught between two countries, and low income, soldier feels he’s been forgotten

Surrey parents, students navigate remote learning during COVID-19

The Surrey school district teachers are slowly rolling out plans for new way of educating

Two people fined for trying to re-sell N95 and surgical masks in Delta

Police confiscated over 5,000 masks and are working with Fraser Health to see them put to good use

Peace Arch News ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Vancouver man, 21, charged after mother found dead in Squamish home

Ryan Grantham, 21, has been charged with second-degree murder

Fraser Valley’s tulips fields off limits to visitors due to COVID-19

Abbotsford and Chilliwack tulip farmers have announced their festival season won’t go ahead

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

Most Read