By Gayathri Peringod, May 21 2019 —
Survivors of sexual violence in Alberta can now access a province-wide support service from their smartphone to get help.
One Line — a province-wide talk/text/chat line that provides confidential support and referrals to specialized services for survivors of sexual violence — was launched earlier this month following an increase in demand for sexual violence services in the province.
Launched on May 6, in partnership with the Alberta government, the line aims to efficiently provide province-wide services and tailor support to survivors of sexual violence depending upon their location and needs.
Prior to this, localized phone numbers for sexual violence services were only available in Edmonton, Calgary and Central Alberta. The hope is that One Line will increase access to these services for people living in rural areas of the province, where support may not be as readily available.
“Before One Line, many people in rural communities and areas were isolated, geographically or otherwise,” said Danielle Aubry, CEO of Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse. “With One Line, we can now provide a consistent response across the province.”
The hotline was developed in part to address the increased demand for sexual assault services following the success of the internationalized #MeToo movement and Alberta’s own #IBelieveYou campaign.
“Over the last three to four years, there has been a unique level of awareness around the issue,” Aubry said. “In Canada, it started with the Jian Ghomeshi case, and as international movements became larger, people started feeling more safe to tell their story.”
In 2014 and 2015, former CBC Radio broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi became the subject of sexual harassment allegations and was later arrested. The allegations made national headlines and became a public scandal, prompting widespread awareness of, and discussion surrounding, sexual violence in the country.
In fall 2015, the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) launched the #IBelieveYou campaign to spread awareness about sexual violence. Two years later, the #MeToo hashtag went viral as a movement to draw attention to sexual violence in the workplace took root and spread internationally.
Back home in Alberta, demand for support services for sexual assault victims has more than doubled in some centres in the past few years, One Line stated in a media release.
Aubry recalled her surprise at the strength of the provincial and international movements.
“I never thought I would see this in my own lifetime,” she said.
One Line provides support and referrals for counselling sessions from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. seven days a week, staffed by trained and specialized responders. Those in need of support can either call or text 1-866-403-8000 for help, or visit the AASAS site to chat.