May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month - Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers urges anyone with information on perpetrators to submit a tip anonymously.
Photo by Jaana Björk
Sexual assault is a reportable crime, and a call to crime stoppers is one way to bring offenders to justice
Published 10:28 PDT, Wed May 24, 2023
Sexual assault has a serious and lasting impact on victims, yet it remains one of the most underreported crimes in Canada.
May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month to highlight the devastating effects of this crime and provide an understanding of what can be done to end the violence.
1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. Often, the crime involves coercion, sometimes with a weapon and it can also lead to a victim being physically harmed. Victims and witnesses of sexual assault are urged not to cover it up, but to report it - and there are several ways to do it.
“Surprisingly, it’s not usually a stranger. More often than not, victims know their attacker, and although they should call police, many of them fear doing so,” says Linda Annis, executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers. “But not reporting it to anyone lets the attacker get away with it and perhaps hurt others.
“We urge victims to call 9-1-1 if a crime has been committed, but there are often witnesses or others who may know something more about who’s behind these crimes. If you have any information and want to do the right thing, but feel you can’t tell police, then call us anonymously at Crime Stoppers, especially if you have information on who is committing these serious crimes. Police won’t ever learn the identity of the tipster, but they may be able to use the information provided to track down and prosecute sexual predators.”
In addition, there are agencies in the Lower Mainland able to provide support for sexual assault victims. A list of agencies is available on the Province of British Columbia website.
SOME FACTS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
- It’s commonly thought that sexual assault is violent and always uses physical force. However, coercion is the most common method of sexual violence.
- In most cases, individuals are victimized by someone they know through a relationship.
- Education, especially for children, can be one of the most effective ways in preventing sexual abuse by telling them how to set boundaries, avoid inappropriate touching, and who to contact if they feel uncomfortable.
- Creating safe environments, where procedures are in place to deal with situations properly, helps allow individuals to feel more comfortable in reporting abuse