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First responder training for sexual violence

Training for the first response when someone confides that they have been a victim of sexual violence is being made available both for front line staff as well as anyone who is interested.

Community relations coordinator with the Lloydminster Sexual Assault Services Shamille Sarcauga says this will be in the first in-person edition of this course that they will be having since the pandemic. She notes one does not have to be a police officer or a medic as a victim may choose to first tell a friend what has happened to them.

“The key to that is just having great listening skills. Also coming from a place of no judgement. You’re not going to question the victim. You’re going to tell them,”Thank you. You’re so brave to share that because that’s a tough moment.” You don’t have to push them for their story either, but for you to just be there and listen to them. That is just one step closer to them receiving or seeking any further help.”

The First Responder to Sexual Assault and Abuse Training will cover material like definitions of sexual assault and violence, child sexual abuse, adult sexual assault and harassment, statistics, myths versus facts, how to effectively respond and prevention. Sarcauga says the training is being done over two-days in six modules.

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Turning to the statistics the community relations coordinator says two out of three women and one out of three men in Alberta have been affected by sexual violence in their lives. She says this includes abuse, assault and harassment either as a child or as an adult.

Given the subject matter and the experiences of first responders, Sarcauga sees the importance of the final section dealing with prevention and change as being empowering.

“Even just one simple thing about the training is it just gives you hope. It just might be just a story to some people, but it can make the biggest impact if someone is sharing their story and you effectively respond to them.”

She adds the in-person session allows them to have a safe-space to share.

The First Responder to Sexual Assault and Abuse Training takes place March 14-15 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at Lakeland College. Registration for the sessions which are through the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services is online.

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