With May being Sexual Violence Awareness Month, residents are encouraged to wear a teal shirt to bring greater awareness of the deep challenges that victims of sexual violence grapple.
Local wait times for service delivery have gone up in the last year, says Community Relations Coordinator Shamille Sarcauga, who has been with Lloydminster Sexual Assault Services for almost two years.
“So far we have seen an increase of 25 per cent on our waitlist and when it comes to numbers, the Alberta provincial prevalence rate is two in three women and one in three men experience sexual violence before they are 18. Lloydminster is experiencing similar prevalence rates as well.”
LSAS have on average about 600 clients whom they serve every year across this region which spans a radius of some 200 km. They put their clients first and want to give them the best services, but COVID restrictions have forced them to serve clients online.
LSAS have provided the following numbers which highlight specific details about the demand for their services.
Since January 2020, they have provided services to about 800 people. Of that number, about 40 per cent are youth under the age of 18 years and 60 per cent are adults. 74 per cent identify as female, 22 per cent identify as male and 4% identify as transgender.
With more people being at home, Sarcauga notes there has been an increase in domestic sexual violence which is fueling another source of demand for service. This is compounded as people deal with emotions like isolation and loneliness in the pandemic era.
During Sexual Violence Awareness month, communities are encouraged to plan events to bring the numerous issues in to focus.
The activities that people can access include visiting the LSAS Youtube video channel where they have posted numerous teaching materials as they debunk myths and deep dive into sexual awareness topics. The information in their latest video was compiled by the Alberta Sexual Assault Services and presents statistics on prevalence rates in Alberta.
Sarcauga says the second project involves wearing a teal shirt to support survivors of sexual violence.
“That campaign is we want to recognize the prevalence rate of sexual violence by wearing teal between May 9 to May 16. Once you do that, you can take a photo, post it on social media with the hashtag SVAM, so sexual violence awareness month. [After] May 16 we will choose a winner.”
They’re offering two prizes for the best pictures of people sporting teal shirts. The prizes include a $100 dollar gift card from Extreme Pizza and a $125 gift card from May Cinema Six.
The third project is for middle and high schoolers where they are developing a 15 question Kahoot quiz which they will send out to local schools.
“It’s just a quick quiz on sexual violence facts, consent and what a healthy relationship looks like. A few trivia questions about LSAS. We will be sending those out for teachers.”
The fourth activity will be a podcast discussion hosted by local artist Brandi Hofer.
“So in that podcast, they will be talking about prevalence rates of sexual violence and parenting and supporting kids when it comes to their growing bodies, the programs and services that LSAS offers as well as the importance of increased awareness.”
With COVID restrictions the Walk A Mile In Her Shoes promotion remains on hold. So wearing a teal shirt in May is the real deal to raise awareness and support the cause.
LSAS has a new website that was launched in April, where more information and resources are available.