Why are sexual assault victims reluctant to report?

There is no time limit on when a survivor of sexual assault can report to police.

Why are sexual assault victims reluctant to report?

Re: “RCMP close file on sexual assault allegations at Cowichan Hospital”

Warmland Women’s Support Services Society raises our hands to the dedicated members of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP for their extensive and thorough investigation into the allegations of sexual assaults on the grounds of the Cowichan District Hospital. Evidence is not always easy to uncover or collect. Evidence includes statements given to police by victims of crime. Statements are often the primary source of evidence. But what if a victim is reluctant to provide police with a statement? Does the absence of a statement mean the evidence doesn’t exist? Does a lack of evidence mean the crime didn’t occur? Or does it simply mean evidence is unavailable to support an investigation?

Why would victims of sexualized violence be reluctant to provide a statement to police? Fear of the offender, fear of being shamed, blamed or discounted, workplace ramifications, sexual assault myths, pervasive rape culture that sexually objectifies women, pits women against women, views rape as inevitable, defines men as aggressive and sexually dominant, identifies men who don’t “hit it and quit it” as weak… and worse.

Our entire narrative focuses on the survivors, who are predominantly women, with questions about what she was wearing, what was she thinking, why she was at that party, ad nauseam. Rape is very dangerous so survivors resist in ways that are invisible to the offender hoping the violence will not escalate further. These hidden acts of resistance make it easy for society to form negative opinions about the survivor. Sexual assault is a violent physical assault that is sexualized. It is dehumanizing and traumatic. It is never the victim’s fault. Every time a survivor discloses the details of sexualized violence they endure flashbacks, intolerable fear, and fracturing emotional and psychological pain.

Be more than a bystander to rape culture. Challenge victim blaming when you hear it. Challenge toxic masculinity’s harmful impact on men, women and particularly young men and boys. Advocate for survivors. Ask questions on their behalf. Search out trauma-informed resources and victim services so survivors have an idea of where their healing journey can begin and what their rights are as a victim of crime. It is absurd that in a country as rich in human rights as Canada, survivors of sexual assault face consequences when reporting.

There is no time limit on when a survivor of sexual assault can report to police. When new evidence comes forward police can re-open an investigation. Other resources survivors can report to include WorkSafeBC and/or unions if the assault occurred at the workplace, doctors, counsellors, faith-based advisors, and anonymous third party reporting processes through community-based victim services. The Crime Victim Assistance Program is another anonymous and safe resource providing victims of crime with various benefits such as the cost of counselling or protective measures. VictimLinkBC 1-800-563-0808, Cowichan Women Against Violence 250-748-7000 and Warmland Women’s Support Services 250-710-8177 can respond to anonymous inquiries.

If you know anyone who has information about a sexual assault you can make an anonymous call to Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP at 250-748-5522. Do your part. Help keep our community safe for everyone. Sexual violence is a societal issue and it is not the survivor’s sole responsibility to stand up to that. Together against violence. Together we are stronger.

Kendra Thomas, program coordinator

Warmland Women’s Support Services Society


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

Just Posted

Robert’s column
Robert Barron column: New hospital shouldn’t charge for parking

Paying a parking meter is the last thing people visiting a hospital should have to worry about.

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Asparagus root, dug up from the old patch and ready to be transplanted. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Some tips on growing asparagus

When choosing asparagus I recommend buying male plants for juicier, plumper spears.

If you’re looking for a goat time, visit Russell Farms Market! (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Looking for a goat time on Good Friday

If you drive by the farm market a little slower you see the goat pen.

The McCloskey-Hydro Rain Garden, located in a sunny Hydro corridor and receiving about 2.5 million litres of rainwater runoff per year from the roof of nearby McCloskey Elementary School. (Deborah Jones photo)
A&E column: From nature to poetry to puppets, there’s plenty afoot

What’s going on in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment scene

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Most Read