By Jess Panther
CALGARY — In recent months the topic of sexual assault and violence against women has been at the forefront of conversation across the country. The now well-known case against Jian Ghomeshi, who has allegedly abused, sexually assaulted and harassed a number of women, has been scattered across every major media outlet. The reality of how big of an issue sexual abuse is has finally started to dawn on our nation, and a huge part of that is due to the courageous efforts of women and men who have found it in themselves to speak out about their experiences and offer a safe haven for victims.
While I like to keep the topic of sex light and fun, these events and issues have encouraged me to set a serious tone for this month’s column. Any kind of non-consensual act or sexual harassment, violence and abuse is never, ever OK. It seems ridiculous to me that in this day and age that anyone should even have to state that. But it’s absolutely paramount that we keep the ball rolling for change and offer victims as much support as we can.
Calgary has several different services available for those who have been sexually violated or feel threatened. Distress hotlines are open 24/7 where trained professionals offer anonymous advice or even just a little compassion when turning to a friend or family member doesn’t seem like an option. There are also emergency services and call lines for situations that require immediate assistance.
Education and open conversation is essential in fighting against these kinds of issues. My heart goes out to any victims, and I know that we all have it in us to make a difference in keeping sexual encounters fun, safe and pleasurable for everyone.
Here is a list of some of the services available in Calgary:
Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA) is an organization that offers a 24-hour support and information hotline, crisis intervention and counseling, as well as education, research and advocacy programs. They can be reached at (403) 237-5888 or toll-free at 1-877-237-5888.
Calgary Counselling Centre is available for long-term sexual abuse counselling. They can be reached during business hours at (403) 691-5991.
The Distress Centre is a 24-hour crisis line that offers information and support where callers are free to remain anonymous. (403) 266-HELP (4357)
Calgary Sexual Assault Response Team (CSART) is a team comprised of specialized doctors and nurses and are available to any individual who has experienced sexual assault or abuse within the past 72 hours. You’re free to choose which services you want to receive and they are available 24 hours at Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre (1213 4 St. SW). (403) 955-6011
Sheldon M. Chumir also offers a Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic where STI testing, treatment and emergency contraception and support is available Monday to Friday (8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). (403) 228-7430
Calgary Sexual Health Centre is located at 304, 301 14 St. NW and offers information, support and referrals by telephone. Counselling and education is also available. (403) 285-5580
Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter also offers a number of services to women in emergency situations. Their 24-hour helpline is (403) 234-SAFE (7233) or toll-free at 1-866-606-7233. More information can be found online.AB, Alberta, Jian Ghomeshi, sexual assault, support services in Calgary