The court date for a survivor of sexual violence can be on average a year away. The Lloydminster Sexual Assault Services has programs to support its clients through that process and beyond.
Maria Sarcauga-Gantefoer is the director of specialized supports and has been at LSAS for nearly nine-years. She oversees the Specialized Police and Court Support program for any client going through the judicial system. The team has worked with 37 clients this past year to prepare them for court.
“That’s 37 different trials that we go to. Some of them will go through. Some of them might be dismissed, but either way – on the decision that the courts go with, we support the clients from the beginning to the end. And with my collaboration with the counseling program and crisis intervention program at LSAS – after the court process, we still refer them to their crisis interventionist and they continue to work on their healing journey,” says Sarcauga-Gantefoer.
Overall, the program provides clients with a court advocate, connects them to additional services, accompanies the person to court and provides emotional support. The duration of the court matter varies, but the LSAS team supports the client throughout the process. The team will come to court with a support bag which includes refreshments, a blanket and other material comforts, but Sarcauga-Gantefoer explains that their clients welcome having that one person who will be there with them.
“What they really appreciate is having somebody in their corner. Having somebody sit there with them through the most difficult questions that’s given to them by the crown prosecutors or the defence lawyers – being able to sit with them throughout the whole day and being able to answer their questions and advocate for them.”
Sarcauga-Gantefoer says some people may need further support regardless of the verdict, and they provide that as well.
As MyLloydminsterNow has been reporting that the building which supports all these services to Lloydminster and area is in need of repairs to its foundation at a cost of $450,000. Residents may support the LSAS effort through its anniversary gala that’s coming up next February.