Waterloo Region Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre Celebrates 25th Anniversary

October 2nd, 2017

October 2 , 2017 (Kitchener, ON) – The Waterloo Region Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre (WRSA/DVTC), a program of St. Mary’s General Hospital, is celebrating 25 years of providing critical services to men, women and children in the region.

Serving more than 500 clients in 2016-17, the WRSA/DVTC has a team of specially trained nurses and social workers on call 24/7 to respond to the acute needs of sexual assault and domestic violence victims. Victims receive rapid access to care in a private setting in the emergency departments at St. Mary’s and Cambridge Memorial Hospitals. Upon entering, victims are provided with treatment options and the choice to include police involvement in their care. The team also provides counselling at its offices in Kitchener and Cambridge, linking victims with community services and operates a pediatric clinic for known or suspected child sexual assault/abuse. All services are confidential and free of charge, including medications. Victims can choose whether police are contacted.

Julia Manuel, Director of Community Programs at St. Mary’s, says victims are grateful for the support. “They tell us that we are the first people who have actually listened to them and given them the help they need. The security, dignity and privacy of victims is the first priority for our highly-skilled team,” said Manuel.

Services provided by the WRSA/DVTC include:

  • Immediate crisis support
  • Preventative medications for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy and HIV
  • Physical examinations, treatment and documentation of injuries
  • Collection of forensic evidence
  • Counselling
  • Safety planning for victims and their children
  • Connections to community supports
  • A pediatric clinic for known or suspected child sexual assault/abuse

Demand for service is growing.

Cases 2016-17 (Fiscal year)
2017-18 (April 1 to date)
Sexual assault 217 155
Domestic violence 221 171
Pediatric 55 45

In 2016, the WRSA/DVTC partnered with the Waterloo Regional Police Service to launch the Multidisciplinary Response to Combat Human Trafficking. This program is the first of its kind in the region, acting as the initial point of contact for human trafficking. So far 15 victims of human trafficking have been identified and helped at St. Mary’s and Cambridge Memorial Hospitals, where they have received emergency medical care, support and referrals to other community services.

In May of 2017 the WRSA/DVTC was honoured with the Ontario Attorney General’s Victim Services Award of Distinction for its high quality services and continuous support for victims of crimes, including those impacted by human trafficking.

Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin, says the partnership to combat human trafficking is an invaluable regional resource. “The expertise offered by the Waterloo Region Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre is key in addressing the physical and emotional needs of these victims,” he said.

As part of the initiative, WRSA/DVTC provides medical (forensic nurses) and social services (social workers) and offers support and referrals while working in conjunction with Victim Services, Woman’s Crisis Services, Withdrawal Management and Al-Control. Victims receive care kits upon entering the Emergency Department that include hygiene and sanitary products, personal identification forms (birth certificate documentation), first aid supplies and contact information for crisis/support lines.

Manuel says the WRSA/DVTC has evolved to support a growing community with complex needs. “We are very proud of our highly skilled and compassionate team, we are fortunate to work with collaborative partners who help deliver specialized services close to home,” she said. Those partners include the Waterloo Regional Police Service and community agencies.